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HomemioptometryMaking Inroads for Eye Health

Making Inroads for Eye Health

Optometry Australia is making inroads, with government and the public alike, to highlight the importance of eye health.


Andrew McKinnon

There seems to be an upturn in enthusiasm and confidence in the market – or so my straw polls are indicating.

I base this somewhat rosy outlook on a simple indicator – the number of members who have contacted me in recent months with a view to getting into their own optometric practice.

All in all, some positive signs – let’s hope the trend continues

For quite a while, post-GFC, this particular indicator was nowhere to be seen. No-one was buying practices unless they were such a granite-solid business proposition that you really couldn’t afford not to pick one up – and usually at a bargain-basement price.

But, times seem to be changing.

In particular, I am getting enquiries from our younger members about getting into their own practices. Of course we counsel caution, but increasingly we are seeing good, solid practices coming to market at price points that represent apparently good value, but without being at fire-sale level. And we’re also seeing the sellers putting into place succession-planning strategies that will assist potential buyers to partner with them over a period, rather than just buying outright.

All in all, some positive signs – let’shope the trend continues.


Kirsty Machon

An important part of our work at Optometry Victoria is to ensure optometrists have the right clinical, practical and professional support and information they need to practise optometry to a high standard, and obtain satisfaction from a career as a health professional.

Recently we developed an importantnew tool to support optometrists in providing great eye care.

Best Practice in Optometry is available online and conveniently brings together information for optometrists about optometry competencies; optometry registration standards, including additional underpinning guidelines and policies; legislative frameworks covering optometry; clinical standards and guidelines; guidelines for, or information about, practice policies and procedures; communicating with your patients; and prescribing.

The information is presented througha series of direct links to up-to-dateonline information, guidelines, standards and resources.

Optometrists can use this as a reference tool or to self-audit practice and policies to identify any gaps in knowledge about current standards, practices, requirements, or research. Although the document makes occasional reference to specifically Victorian legislation, regulation or context, members from all states are likely to obtain some value from the overall picture, which includes nationally-relevant material.

The resource is available at optometry.org.au/victoria

Integrated Eye Care: Evidence and Advantages
While you’re there, we encourage you to have a look at another resource we’ve recently developed and made available online. Integrated Eye Care: Evidence and Advantages provides an evidence-based outline of the significant contribution optometry makes to the health of Victorians through primary eye care services. Additionally, it highlights recent developments that augment the role of optometry services in the community. We hope the information presented in this document can further increase understanding and improve referral and communication pathways between practitioners involved in the care of patients with, or at risk of, eye problems.

The paper will be of interest to:

  • general and specialist medical practitioners wanting to know more about optometry, optometrists, and their role in eye care;
  • primary health care organisations;
  • organisations working on behalf of or with, patients who may be at particular risk of eye disease;
  • Policy-makers and government.

Optometry Victoria works with a wide range of organisations to further our vision of excellence in eye care across the State. We’ve already presented this document to the Victorian Minister for Health, the Hon. David Davis MLC, as well as the other major political parties contesting the 2014 Victorian election, along with our 2014 Election Submission. We encourage members of Optometry Victoria to have a look at this document. You may want to use it when discussing the role optometry plays with other health professionals you work with in your community.


Marika MacKenzie

Optometry Queensland and Northern Territory joined the IDEAS van during NAIDOC week in Musgrave Park, Brisbane. The IDEAS (Indigenous Diabetes Eyes and Screening) van has been closing the health gap for Indigenous communities by visiting larger Indigenous population centres and providing access to first class eye health services since early 2014.

The 18-metre van was available for inspection by the Indigenous community during a NAIDOC celebration day in South Brisbane on Friday 11 July. Board Director David Bradley and Optometry Qld/NT staff joined the efforts by talking with community members about the use of the van, the need for diabetic care among the Indigenous population and conducting sample OCT screenings.

Queensland Health donated AU$5 million to the project to help reduce preventable blindness from diabetes by providing education, equipment and specialist clinical support to 27 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical Services in Queensland. The IDEAS van is expected to complete 10 visits across the State of Queensland annually.

North Queensland Vision
North Queensland Vision (NQV) is again shaping up to be the answer for those among us looking for an excuse to migrate north… so why not join us in Cairns in October to kick start your summer. Throw on some thongs, bring your towel and join us in gorgeous tropical Cairns for NQV from 4–5 October at the Hilton Hotel.

This is a great opportunity for you to enjoy some well-earned relaxation in addition to meeting your continuing professional development requirements. The 2014 clinical program incorporates an excellent array of lecture topics to suit all practice types, while still delivering over 40 CPD points. As in previous years, NQV is offering complimentary optional online assessment, an included gala dinner ticket for full delegates and two sponsored breakfast lectures. Delegates will also be treated to a night of fantastic live entertainment, delicious food and excellent company, all within an iconic Cairns location.

How can anyone say no to a gorgeous long weekend in tropical North Queensland?

To view the official NQV 2014 website – including the program, gala dinner and all other convention information – and to register, visit www.etouches.com/nqv2014 or phone (AUS) 07 3839 4411.

Celebrating the Profession
Optometry Queensland and Northern Territory members will join together to celebrate the optometry profession and its achievements in the year that has been on Saturday 8 November 2014 at Rush CBD, Brisbane.

VISIONaries: Past, Present & Future is an event especially for members, so join your friends and colleagues for a night of celebration along with delicious food and impressive entertainment. The night will include the presentation of a number of prestigious Qld/NT awards and we will welcome QUT graduates into the profession together with five, 10 and 20-year class reunions.

Do you know a fellow colleague who has worked tirelessly for the profession? Don’t forget to nominate them! Nominations close 15 September.

For further event information or to receive an award nomination form please email: c.presotto@optometry.org.au or phone(AUS) 07 3839 4411.


Tony Martella

Thank you to all involved in WAVE 2014. This year’s conference was an enormous success – highlighted by a solid increase in delegate numbers across the board, and in particular, more visitors from interstate when compared to 2013. It’s great to see the profession engaging as they do with the various Association CPD programs that are on offer.

WAVE prides itself on the delivery and content of its education program. This is well reflected by delegate feedback each time. Thank you to our presenters for once again imparting their knowledge and engaging with delegates and the profession. Thanks also to our many exhibitors who once again supported the profession and WAVE by participating in our expanded trade expo.

Finally, to all those delegates and members who chose WAVE as their CPD choice for 2014, thank you for the support. By attending WAVE you’re supporting your own future and the WA Division of Optometry Australia that you belong to. Remember it’s wholly owned by you, the members, and is held for your benefit. See you at WAVE 2015, 7–9 August.

Last WA Ocular Therapeutics Course
I wish the current cohort of 30 optometrists undertaking their Ocular Therapeutics course every success as they embark on their final exam in September.

After four cohorts of WA students, this is the last Ocular Therapeutics course we will run locally for Optometry Western Australia. I would especially like to thank Professor Stapleton and the team at University of New South Wales for their commitment to training our members over the past five years. The training program has been an important step and a milestone in the evolution of the profession and in patient outcomes in Western Australia. Congratulations to all those optometrists who’ve undertaken the course locally and are now actively working and using their therapeutic qualification for the betterment of patient care and treatment.

A Date for Your Calendar
Make sure you join us for the Optometry Western Australia Spring Cup Golf Day on Friday 24 October at the Glen Iris Golf Course. This is a fantastic annual event that gets you out on the green, networking and generally having fun with colleagues from around the State. We’re expecting another great turnout at this year’s Golf Day so please don’t miss out – put the date on your calendar.

Another October date to remember is Wednesday 29 October, when Optometry Western Australia will hold its Annual General Meeting.

And as an aside… as we head into grand final season, Optometry Western Australia would like to wish you and your team – in whatever football code you follow – the very best of luck (go Freo!).


Libby Boschen

Membership renewals for 2014 –15 are complete and once again Optometry South Australia will represent in excess of 95 per cent of our State’s optometrists this year.

August heralds the start of our new strategic planning cycle – it’s time to zip on our meerkat suits and scan the horizon for opportunities and risks in the optometry landscape. One of the significant benefits of membership is that you are effectively paying us to ‘watch your back’ while you continue with the optometry equivalent of digging for termites!

While we always take into account member views and ideas (via surveys and ad hoc conversations), I now have the added benefit of gleaning significant insights into “member land” from facilitating Professional Hubs for members. The Hubs for independent practitioners, locum optometrists and mums and bubs are now well established, with members feeling sufficiently comfortable with each other and the process to speak openly and candidly about what matters to them in their professional lives. These insights will be invaluable starting points for our strategic planning process.

We believe optometrists are vital in delivering better eye health outcomes for the Australian community and our strategic plan and subsequent advocacy work will reflect this. Carefully crafted member education and professional support strategies will also help build a strong and progressive profession that upholds and promotes the highest standards of patient care. Optometry Australia may be the influential voice for optometry, but it is also proud to be the professional partner and career-long supporter of each and every one of our individual optometrist members.

If you’re currently one of the very few Australian optometrists who are not a member, who’s watching your back while you snuffle for termites?

Optometry Australia

In late May we launched Optometry Australia with the objective of strengthening, protecting and promoting the optometry sector, optometrists and eye health.

To achieve its aims, Optometry Australia will tap into more than 100 years’ experience and knowledge that comeswith being Australia’s peak professional body for optometrists.

What will set the new brand apart from the former Optometrists Association Australia is our commitment to being bolder in our leadership of the sector. While this may seem incongruous, given our role in shaping the sector for more than 10 decades, we have achieved a huge amount of positive change through a more softly-softly approach.

In responding to our members’ rallying call, we are stepping up our efforts to raise the profile of the sector and to promote the critical role that optometrists contribute to Australian health care. We recognise this needs to be achieved at both the policy table and within consumer circles.

In a first for our sector, on 25 June Optometry Australia hosted a half-day eye-screening session in Parliament House. The Minister for Health, the Hon. Peter Dutton MP, various Members of Parliament and executive staff and officers attended the screening. OptiMed provided state-of-the-art equipment for the 15-minute screenings that included LCD vision chart, retinal camera and OCT scan.

The Parliamentary Screening gave us the platform to launch Line of Sight, Optometry Australia’s action plan for improving primary eye health and vision care. Importantly, our President Andrew Harris and I had the opportunity to personally present this document to the Minister and to talk to him directly about this keystone policy paper. We further generated excellent media coverage in regional and metropolitan channels, thereby generating a wider audience to deliver vision and eye health messages.

Within the consumer domain, in June we launched our new children’s vision campaign. We are partnering with two major media channels to potentially reach hundreds of thousands of parents and teachers to highlight the education, social and emotional impacts that poor vision can have on a child’s development.

In another first for the organisation, Optometry Australia has entered into a partnership with NewsLifeMedia, which is part of News Ltd, to support an integrated digital campaign on its highly popular Kidspot channel that combines a micro-site, bloggers and social media content.

A second partnership has been secured with Kids Media, an Australian-education agency that is working with Optometry Australia to develop a range of curriculum appropriate children’s vision themed material, which will be distributed to primary schools nationally.

The campaign’s call-to-action is our Find an Optometrist online search service, which provides the most comprehensive listing of optometrists in Australia. This search function will provide us with another key tool by which to measure the success of this, and future consumer campaigns, which are in planning stages.

We are excited by our new direction and inspired by the support we are receiving from our members. We look forward to rolling out new initiatives to demonstrate our bolder leadership of the sector.


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