As fireworks lit the skies of Sydney to celebrate the opening of the annual Vivid festival, graduating students from the 2013 TAFE NSW course in optical dispensing celebrated their personal achievements at Dockside,
Welcoming students and their families to the 33rd optical dispensing graduation awards, Martin Kocbek, President of the Australian Dispensing Opticians Association NSW said the fireworks that graced the outside skies were symbolic of the high flying careers the students in the room were about to embark upon.
Guest of honour, David Riordan, Director of TAFE NSW, acknowledged the significance of the students’ chosen career, quipping that as he moved further into the age of presbyopia, his appreciation of the profession had increased. “The industry is important to making lives easier,” he said.
Additionally, he spoke to the students, their families and guests about the successful decision to move the TAFE course from Ultimo to Randwick earlier this year.
A Fellow of the Association of British Opticians with honours in spectacle lens design and vice president of ADOA, Mr. Hannaford has won “a swag of business awards”…
Mr. Riordan said TAFE NSW was “going through enormous change” and that the changes made to the optical dispensing course had been positive.
“The optical dispensing licencing board ceased to operate in 2010 and the industry apparently was concerned about the possible downturn in people seeking qualifications in this unregulated environment… looking at numbers here it doesn’t seem to be the case,” he said.
Mr. Riordan said the TAFE leadership team had addressed industry concerns by looking at how the optical dispensing course should be delivered. “We made a decision – a bold decision – to move from Ultimo to Randwick where we’ve created a health precinct under the leadership of Carmel Ellis-Gulli, Community Services and Health Faculty Director… I’ve never seen such a positive reaction to a decision that we took at leadership level. The investment has resulted in a… quadrupling of our enrolments but an increase in our partnerships and our reputation, and I can only see a positive future for us through our health precinct at Randwick.
“We’ve upgraded our facilities, providing a new simulated training room, optical workshop with remote edging systems and hand edgers, and a modern lecture room.” He said the way the courses are delivered had also been improved with flexible timetables, online programs, and the ability to fast track courses to one year.
Mr. Riordan went on to pay tribute to the “energy, enthusiasm and passion” of Sydney TAFE teacher James Gibbins. “Without James many of you wouldn’t be here tonight,” he said to resounding applause.
109 students from Australia and as far afield as China, Jordan, Sri Lanka, Poland and the United States graduated from the TAFE NSW Certificate IV in Optical Dispensing. Four students (Kishor Dixit; Grant Hannaford; Charlotte Newton and Erica Small received their ADOA Diploma in Ophthalmic Practice Management.
Mr. Riordan presented the TAFE NSW State Medal to the winner of the Optical Dispensing Award for 2013, Carly Toms. Introducing the award, he said the NSW state medal is not awarded every year because it represents the single highest honour awarded to a student of TAFE NSW and recognises the student that has achieved the highest mark in Certificate 4 in optical dispensing. The award he said depicts the sun, the moon and the hand, reflecting the defining values of TAFE NSW. He said the sun is associated with higher intellect, knowledge and thinking; the moon represents the creative side of the mind and intuition; and the hand represents the physical extension of ideas into action and the practice skills taught
by TAFE NSW.
TAFE State Medal for Optical Dispensing 2013
Donna Wright: Course Prize 18278/16118
Carly Toms: Second in course 18278/16118
Donna Wright: Practical optical dispensing
Sydney TAFE Prize Winners
Xiao Lan Li: Course prize 18278/16118
Dan Ying Liu: Second in course 18278/16118
Vivek Sehdev: Practical optical dispensing
In addition to the academic awards, 2013 student Randa Trott was presented with a special Appreciation Award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to dispensing education. Along with the Optical Distributors and Manufacturers Association (ADOA) and the Australian Dispensing Opticians Association (ADOA), Ms. Trott was instrumental in ensuring the continuation of the TAFE NSW face-to-face course in optical dispensing. Acting as an “unofficial student representative”, she enlisted support for the course from students and politicians.
Optical dispenser Grant Hannaford was also recognised with the prestigious ADOA Award for an individual who has gone “above and beyond” their role as an optical dispenser. Although no longer an undergraduate student in optical dispensing (Mr. Hannaford established his practice in 2004) the presentation was made at the awards evening to demonstrate the many pathways that optical dispensing can take students along.
A Fellow of the Association of British Opticians with honours in spectacle lens design and vice president of ADOA, Mr. Hannaford has won “a swag of business awards”, significantly helped both local and international communities and continued his education by completing a Bachelor in Science with two majors, and studying under Mo Jalie. He is now a visiting academic at UNSW School of Optometry and Vision Science. Receiving his award he told students, “Don’t under estimate what the industry will give you – I’ve met people and done things that I wouldn’t have believed years ago when I started out in the industry.”
During an impressive evening, graduating students Allison Robinson and Vivek Sehdev took to the stage to thank the course lecturers and coordinators, acknowledging that their assistance was integral to their success. Additionally, they acknowledged the support from family and their fellow students that helped them through “the ups and downs” of the course.