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Wednesday / July 17.
HomemioptometryPlanning for Optometry’s Future

Planning for Optometry’s Future

Following a year of transition, Optometry Australia is ready to launch its new Strategic Plan 2015–2018 in the New Year.


Andrew McKinnon

Our daughter moved to New York about a year ago and so we recently went over to see her. She has been working for a large advertising agency and is looking for a change to a smaller outfit. One of the key factors in her decision about who to apply to is their health insurance plans. Amy is Type 1 diabetic and so she has regular medication and medical needs. I don’t know if you’ve ever looked at the American health insurance system in any detail but let me tell you it is (a) diabolically complex and (b) diabolically expensive!

In Amy’s case she needs to check that an insurer (which must be arranged through an employer – you can’t do it directly) will cover a particular type of insulin – and a particular type of insulin pump. And, relevant to optometry, that they will cover diabetic eye examinations and not just refractions.

Between now and the middle of 2015 as many as 90 new optometrists will graduate and start their careers

And because these Health Maintenance Organisations (as they are euphemistically called) dictate who you can attend for care, if you want a particular optometrist or doctor you have to see if they are covered on the plan as well!

Every so often the idea of moving to a HMO-style system raises its head in Australia. They are touted as being a wonderful idea as they have incentives to keep people well, rather than just treat them when they fall ill.

The next time you hear someone espouse this particular idea, just think about what it would be like to be completely beholden to a clerk in a faceless HMO who gets to decide if you can see your doctor or optometrist, when and for what services. And then tell them exactly what they can do with that particular idea!

For all its faults, the Australian system is galaxies ahead of the US system – and we should all work very hard to keep it that way.

And on a more positive note, may I wish all the readers of this august publication a wonderful Christmas – I hope you are all busier than you have been in years and that it is a portent for a fabulous 2015 to come.


Pete Haydon

One of the interesting things occurring in Victoria at the moment is the expansion and refreshing of the optometry workforce. Between now and the middle of 2015 as many as 90 new optometrists will graduate and start their careers – an annual number that will almost certainly increase over time.

This is because of a confluence of events that will become the industrial norm each year moving forward. At the end of 2014 the first of the optometry doctorate students will graduate from the University of Melbourne, while the first cohort of Deakin University students, currently entering their final year of study, will graduate mid-2015.

Naturally, the majority of these students will become members of Optometry Victoria, and most will commence practising in Victoria over the coming months. It’s an exciting time, providing opportunity and challenge in equal measure for our profession.

We’ve already enjoyed meeting many of these emerging optometrists at our getting registered session in November. Optometry Victoria staff and board members helped students to better understand the registration process; Medicare and the PBS, and how their Association can help them as their careers develop.

One of the next stops for students will be the Careers Expo which is running as part of SRC 2015. The expo was a significant success this year – allowing employers and prospective employees to network and understand some of the differing working environments optometrists can enjoy in Victoria.

Or course the Careers Expo isn’t just for graduating students. All optometrists attending SRC in 2015 are welcome to attend. It’s just a small part of the very strong, broad SRC program for 2015, running from February 21 to 23. Those who haven’t already registered can do so at www.optometry.org.au/VIC. We hope to see you there.


Cathryn Baker

As we head into the festive season, there is much to celebrate and for that I would like to thank you, our members, for your continued support and loyalty throughout the year.

2014 has been an important year of change for Optometry QLD/NT. During the year we made a significant start on implementing our new vision for optometry across the state and territory. The new look branding came into play, new strategic directions were set, and we had a change of CEO. It was pleasing to see greater collaboration between divisions occurring.

As a division, I am confident we will continue to embrace new opportunities as we move into the New Year and that these opportunities will strengthen the organisation even further. Together we can ensure the practice of optometry secures and maintains the recognition it deserves, both with Government and with other health care professionals.

2015 is shaping up to be another challenging year as we forge ahead as a stronger more united organisation. Plans for our Australian Vision Convention are well underway, with 2015 set to deliver exciting new opportunities for loyal participants and supporters. You can register your interest for AVC2015 updates at [email protected]

I would like to thank all the staff for their dedication and hard work over 2014; we have a great team in place to service the membership.

To the Board of Directors, I am very grateful for your ongoing guidance, assistance and support. And to all of our members, thank you for the continued support of your organisation and the profession as a whole.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to wish you, your families and loved ones a very special Christmas.


Tony Martella

In late October the WA division held its Annual General Meeting. Darrell Baker was reappointed as the President; Geoff Smith was reappointed as Treasurer; and Rob Howie, Garry Crerie, Hui-Lin Chan, Ross Palmer and Simon Hogan were reappointed to the board.

I am pleased to welcome Kate Hegarty who has been appointed to the board for the first time and I would like to congratulate all of our board members on their appointments.

Darrell and the board are looking forward to the next year of challenge, to rolling out the rebranding and implementing Optometry Australia’s national aspiration statement here in Western Australia. Jude and I are looking forward to working with the board in 2015.

As we head into the festive season, I would like to thank all of our WA members for their support during the year, as well as our industry partners and supporters who continue to help us to achieve the results we do for the WA division. A special big thank you to Jude Martindale for another great year of support to me personally and to the WA membership. It’s important to note also the tremendous help we receive from the team at Optometry Australia lead by National CEO Genevieve Quilty. The level of support provided and commitment to the profession by those individuals deserves to be acknowledged and recognised in its significance.

Finally, thank you to the team at mivision for their ongoing support. I look forward to 2015 and wish all readers a safe and happy Christmas and new year.


Libby Boschen

Having recently enjoyed a thought-provoking evening with Professor Brian Cox “Making Sense of the Cosmos”, I have been attempting to make sense of optometry! Not the clinical side (that’s simple) – but the politics!

2014 has been a tumultuous and exciting time for optometry in Australia. Optometry continues (quite rightly) to expand its scope in response to government authority as community needs become more urgent and the role of optometry as a proactive and preventive health partner is further recognised. This understandably has ruffled a few feathers among our medical colleagues, as some struggle to get to grips with the changing landscape and acceptance of the fact that we are in a new era. The current environment requires all health professionals to amend historic work practices for the benefit of all Australians. It requires us to venture into the unknown.

Concurrently, proposed legislative changes at a federal level have opened the door for optometrists to charge patients the real value of their professional expertise as a gap payment over and above Medicare. This new opportunity is turning the box of normality totally on its head and making many of us feel just a tad uncomfortable. It’s time for optometrists to open their eyes to the possibilities!

2014 also heralded a new beginning in SA for a more cooperative approach between Optometry SA and the Australian Dispensing Opticians Association. At SA Blue Sky Congress, we launched a new parallel professional education stream for optical dispensers, to a great response from across the optical sector.

Within our own organisation, we have ridden the wave that is all things “Optometry Australia” and have emerged from the pipe windswept and weary but simultaneously energised and excited by our refined focus. We are truly the influential voice of optometry and welcome the invigorated challenge of fighting for our profession and all who work within it. This is our organisations’ call to trust our beliefs and take a leap of faith into the unknown!

In Wonders of the Universe, Professor Cox observes that “The practice of science happens at the border between the known and the unknown. Standing on the shoulders of giants, we peer into the darkness with eyes opened not in fear but in wonder.”

As a new year approaches and a new era for optometry, ophthalmology and optical dispensing comes galloping over the horizon, I invite you all to toss away your imaginary blinkers preventing you from embracing change.

Instead, I encourage you to join with me and peer into the future with “eyes opened in wonder” (instead of fear) at the possibilities that mutual professional respect and recognition can offer in 2015.

Optometry Australia

The optometry sector is a smart, savvy and caring community that plays a significant role in the health and wellbeing of Australians from all walks of life. As the year draws to a close, now is the time to reflect on your achievements and that of your profession by contemplating the numerous patient issues solved, vision care attended to and successful eye health consultations that have improved the lives everywhere.

As your peak professional membership body, we are certainly proud of your achievements and to be working with you. It is our fundamental belief that a strong and effective profession is the key to delivering optimal community-based primary eye health and vision care.

During 2014 we started to do things a little differently – not only by changing our name to Optometry Australia – but in our approach to activity delivery.

For instance, we entered into media partnerships with NewsLifeMedia and Kids Media to engage with hundreds of thousands of parents, teachers and children across multiple platforms. We now have two Facebook pages, a Twitter profile and even our own YouTube channel. Our increased focus on media has seen a rise in quality optometry-specific editorial.

In August we launched our new advocacy platform, Line of Sight at a dedicated eye-screening event at Parliament House. This gave us direct access to the Minister for Health, the Hon. Peter Dutton, numerous politicians and bureaucrats and the opportunity to lobby for sustainable primary eye health and vision care for all Australians.

The 1 January 2015 Medicare changes will be challenging, as we have noted in communications with the profession. While our advocacy resulted in the fee cap being removed to provide the profession with important flexibility in billing afforded to every other profession operating under Medicare, Optometry Australia appreciates the cuts imposed in the May budget will affect services you provide to your communities. We have made this point well known in our advocacy to Canberra. Optometry Australia has developed a suite of resources to assist the profession implement changes as a result of the Budget announcements and we invite you to access this material and provide active feedback for the development of additional material.

Finally, looking ahead to our plans to support the profession, we have an exciting year ahead with the launch our new Strategic Plan 2015–2018. This three-year blueprint will provide our framework to lead, engage and promote the profession and I look forward to sharing this with you.

In the meantime, have a super, relaxing summer.