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Thursday / May 19.
HomemioptometryOptometry Australia Embraces a New Direction

Optometry Australia Embraces a New Direction

Under the new banner Optometry Australia, the profession’s association is determined to be the influential voice for all optometrists.


Andrew McKinnon

After more than 30 years as CEO of various organisations, you tend to think that there is little out there that can truly take you by surprise. However I must admit that when I sat at my desk on the morning of Thursday 8 May, I had no inkling of what the morning would bring.

Shortly after the opening bell sounded, I received an email from a member (who works for Luxottica), attached to which was a communication from Luxottica chief Chris Beer. It simply asked if I had seen the email.

in his view Optometry Australia had done an outstanding job for the profession of optometry and for eyecare in Australia.

So I read it – and let me tell you, one and all, with every passing paragraph, it just got better.

Here was the #1 man in Luxottica Asia Pacific, Chris Beer, telling his team, without any ambiguity or reservation, that in his view Optometry Australia had done an outstanding job for the profession of optometry and for eyecare in Australia and encouraging every member of his team to continue to support the Association.

Chris wrote: “…what has impressed me most by the Association is its commitment and resolve to look after the eyecare needs of Australians and the quality and health of the profession…It is for this reason that we continue to endorse the (Association) and actively encourage all of our optometrists to be members…”

Now I know that for some members, Luxottica and other large corporate entities aren’t exactly the flavour of the month. But let me say this to you, regardless of where, how or with whom you practise your profession…

I have known Chris Beer for many years, since the time he took the reigns as CEO at Luxottica (he now has expanded responsibilities and a different title). Chris is a straight shooter – he speaks his mind plainly and candidly. We’ve had many discussions on topics where we have disagreed vigorously – but equally we’ve found common ground on a great many more issues.

There is no doubt that Luxottica is a vigorous competitor in the market – that’s the way of the world. But there is also no doubt that under Chris’ stewardship Luxottica has moved to publicly position itself as a health care organisation first and foremost. And regardless of what you might think of the accuracy of that message, that public positioning has to be good for the profession.

On both a personal level and as Optometry Australia’s CEO in NSW/ACT, I applaud the message that Chris has sent to his team and welcome the support that he has shown. It augurs well for the profession as a whole that the biggest player in the market has taken this view, because as we all know, united we stand but divided…

Thanks Chris, we truly appreciate your support.


Terri Smith

We are really looking forward to this coming membership year with our renewed focus on promoting the profession. Thank you to our many members who have renewed their membership. And if you haven’t already – jump in now as renewals were due at 30 June. It is through the strength of us working together that we can continue to advance the professional standing of optometry and the cause of eye-health in the community.

We will be focussing our resources on advancing the profession in critical areas such as government lobbying and advocacy, raising the standing of optometrists as eye-health experts in the community, and putting eye-health front-and-centre of Australian healthcare. Additionally we will continue to provide other core
member services.

SRC 2015
I know it seems a world away but planning is well underway for SRC 2015. Get the dates in your diary: Saturday 21 – Monday 23 February.

Our education committee is hard at work to make sure we provide a high quality, interesting and diverse program again in 2015. We have now confirmed our two international keynote speakers – they are Drs. Blair Lonsberry (back by popular demand) and Chris Lievens (new to SRC).

Update Your Details
I encourage you to keep your details updated so that you don’t miss out on key information. Log in to your member account through the Optometry Australia website to update your membership details. It is really important that we have a current email and hard mail address for you. We also need to know if you are therapeutically endorsed, where you are practicing and whether or not you are happy to receive third party mail outs. A couple of minutes on the website will ensure you receive only the information you want from us and at the correct addresses. You might also want to take some time to look at the member resources available in the member only area.

While you’re updating why not check that all the information published on the Optometry Board of Australia register about you is correct! You might be surprised to read what the register says about you. It is worth a look for peace of mind. Remember you are responsible for ensuring the Board has current contact details for you so you need to notify them if your contact details have changed. Given that most of the Board’s communication with registered optometrists is via email it is particularly important to keep this information up to date.

And a reminder about CPR – each November you need to be able to declare that you have undertaken an accredited CPR course sometime in the last three years. We have added a few more dates to our member’s CPR calendar – you can find them on our website or call (AUS) 03 9652 9100 to book in.

And don’t forget, if you have any questions, queries or ideas give us call. We are always happy to talk to members.


Marika MacKenzie

People often ask, “Why attend face-to-face conferences?” It’s a legitimate and important question, given that optometrists are blessed by a veritable cornucopia of both online and face-to-face CPD. More importantly, the costs associated with attending, including travel, accommodation, and conference registration, not to mention the investment of time, make the decision to attend any one conference a significant one.

Here are four important reasons to attend and support an OA conference:

Education (CPD)
No matter how experienced you are, everyone can learn. Working in a small practice can often be isolating, and without exposure to a variety of points of view, we can miss new ideas and treatment options that can be of great benefit to patients. All members have a say when it comes to the formation of an OA conference program, be it through the completion of a conference exit survey or getting involved in OA Board Committees. In the Qld/NT Division, we have an Education Committee made up of a number of your peers, chaired by a member of your Board, who get together to review feedback and suggestions when drafting ideas for the next conference.

Networking with peers
Face to face conferences provide a great opportunity to network. Networking with fellow optometrists can be vital for patient referrals and professional advice for that tricky patient.

Encounter new products and suppliers
Discovering innovative products and services for your practice is necessary to stay competitive and up to date in today’s fast-paced world. Invest time with the suppliers at the event and turn them into your friends and allies.

Have fun
Being in business should be rewarding and fun. All work and no play can get old fast. OA conferences can add a layer of enjoyment to managing your professional growth by mixing a social aspect into your learning experience. Never underestimate the power of a little fun mixed with some interesting people.

North Queensland Vision 2014
The NQV 2014 program is currently being assembled and will be released shortly. The program highlights include optometrists Dr. Jim Kokkinakis, A/Prof Mark Roth, Jessica Chi and Dr. Stephen Vincent alongside ophthalmologist Dr. Mark Chiang.

North Queensland Vision will be held at the Hilton Hotel, Cairns, on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 October, over the Labour Day long weekend. If you’re interested in joining us in the tropics, email Crystal at c.presotto@optometrists.asn.au for further information.


Tony Martella

In response to member feedback the association has undergone a significant re-branding exercise over the past few months and as a consequence we have a new logo, a new name and a fresh determination to be the influential voice for the profession – optometrists for optometry. For us in Western Australia, our new name – Optometry Western Australia – is particularly welcome as it is much shorter, clearer and easier to understand, especially from a public perspective. It’s a great step forward that will take us well into the future and continue to focus our strategies.

I’d like to acknowledge and thank the eight eye care professionals who made up the WA member review panel – they were able to review, assess and provide constructive and valuable feedback on the rebranding in a short period of time. The relaunch we have undertaken is very much based on the feedback of this and our other panels from around the country, which together truly reflected a balanced cross section of the profession.

WAVE 2014: 16 – 17 August, Pan Pacific Hotel
After WAVE 2013 many members suggested to me that it would be difficult to put together a better educational program for another year. However we’ve done it. The 2014 program is now out and the feedback is that both the conference format and the speakers we have lined up are fantastic. If you haven’t already done so, jump online and take a look at the program then secure your spot at WAVE – it’s well worth the trip to WA.

Visit www.optometrists.asn.au/wa to register.

Clearer Vision Project
Momentum is building for the WA Clearer Vision Project. In the past month alone we’ve distributed 30 spectacle collection boxes to member optometrists, taking the total number of boxes out in the community to around 60. The boxes are displayed in practice so that patients can donate their used spectacles for recycling by inmates at the Acacia Prison.

As a result of this recycling program we are currently recycling around 5,000 spectacles a month into programs that help people in need here and overseas.

If you’re interested in being part of the program, contact the WA office and we can provide a collection box for use in practice. Phone: (AUS) 08 9321 2300.


Libby Boschen

It is so exciting and liberating to now be officially ‘out’ as Optometry South Australia.

For anything optometry related: we are it. We live, eat, sleep and breathe optometry. We take pride in what optometry has achieved for the eye health of Australians up until now and have absolute and unshakeable confidence in what optometry can still do to enhance the quality of life and economic potential of future Australians.

For the past number of years we have noted an increasingly debilitating incongruence between our name (and supporting constitution, policies and habits) and what we could see that we (as an organisation) needed to complete to best serve optometry and our members.

In recent years, there has been too much time and energy spent on what separates us all in the world of optometry: whether it be the comparing of the capabilities of optometrists vs. ophthalmologists, optometrists vs. orthoptists, or optometrists vs. optical dispensers. We debate about the benefits (or otherwise) of providing optometry services in a variety of locations: independent vs. corporate practices, medical clinics, hospital settings or ophthalmology clinics.

Now we can unite very clearly under one proud banner as optometrists for optometry: the professionals who provide excellence in primary eye health care in those little dark rooms, regardless of what happens out the front of the practice, or whether we are handing the baton of care to an optical dispenser, an ophthalmologist, an optometry colleague with differing expertise or back to their GP. We, and only we, are registered with the OBA to practise our chosen profession and proudly have ‘optometrist’ after our name. It’s time to start working together for the benefit of our careers and shared future as optometrists.

The curious observer will have seen from the work we have started in South Australia and at a national level, that we have the interest of optometry firmly in our sights. At a national level, this has been a concerted advocacy campaign to have the real value of optometry’s professional services recognised through the removal of the prohibitive Medicare ‘cap’. This is obviously early days and the change in government policy will need to be accompanied by careful negotiations on optometry’s behalf and appropriate tailored support for our individual members during the transition and in the next twelve months. We will also need to work together to educate the Australian public about the great care optometry provides, now that we are expecting them to dig into their own pockets to receive our services.

In South Australia, the recent introduction of our Professional Hubs for members clearly positions our shared goal (a thriving optometry sector and fruitful optometry career) front of centre in even the most informal settings.

Blue Sky
Concurrently in South Australia, our change in name and clarity of focus provides the perfect backdrop for a new style SA Blue Sky Congress where we also provide a tailored, objective and quality education stream for our professional colleagues in our optometry practices – optical dispensers and their teams. For optometry to be the best it can be, optometrists need to be able to hand over the baton of professional care to a team of highly competent and motivated optical dispensing colleagues who recognise the true value of optometry.

Take a moment to be excited about, and toast, a great new beginning for optometry in Australia.


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