Optometrists make a substantive contribution to the health of all Australians by providing quality care efficiently and effectively.
I am delighted to have taken up the helm of Optometry Australia, the peak professional body for optometrists. Despite not specifically working in optometry during my long career in health, I have been fortunate to have associations with many in the broad eye health sector. I see many similarities with the challenges facing optometry as those facing the wider health sector, and look forward to working with our members to ensure we are supporting them in a rapidly changing environment. At the end of the day, we all want to provide quality care to patients in the most efficient and effective way.
Optometry Australia will celebrate 100 years of serving the profession, in 2018. Although these milestones provide a time to reflect, they also provide an opportunity to consider the past and project our vision for the future. This sector, as with many others, has and will be subjected to major disruption and we need to be ahead of the game to ensure optometry can continue to meet the needs of our community, irrelevant of where people live.
At O QNT we have been busy developing the Smart Eye Start initiative
The substantive contribution optometrists make to the health of Australians is evidenced by the fact that last year the sector delivered 8.47 million Medicare rebateable optometry services with AU$381 million Medicare benefits paid. We need to work closely with the Federal Government, and to that end I have already had a number of meetings with the Department of Health, Ministers, parliamentarians and advisers.
To comprehensively understand the sector, I need the best teachers and they are our members. It has been wonderful to meet with many of them around the country and get a great sense of ‘what it’s like on the ground’. I am impressed with the commitment and passion of our practitioners. They are well served by the skilled and professional teams in the state and territory offices, and the national office. The collaborative, member focussed culture of the organisations will ensure we have a vibrant and innovative optometry sector serving the health and well-being of the Australian community.
As we begin to reflect on another successful year, having hosted the Australian Vision Convention in April and more recently North Queensland Vision in July, we also look forward to the exciting changes 2018 will have in store. In particular, O QNT is thrilled to announce that, as the Commonwealth Games unfold on the Gold Coast, an exceptional and memorable Australian Vision Convention 2018 will be hosted in our home town of Brisbane at the Convention and Exhibition Centre over the weekend of 7 – 8 April.
Next year will mark 11 years since O QNT have hosted a conference in Brisbane and we are excited to showcase our city’s delights and local sights!
It will be Christmas before we know it and then, the start of the new school year. At O QNT we have been busy developing the Smart Eye Start initiative, which aims to encourage routine eye exams prior to schooling.
The initiative also seeks to encourage an earlier start for the patient and optometrist relationship. Early feedback has indicated that when pre-preps have their eyes tested, other family members will take the opportunity to be tested at the same time, if they have not done so already.
This initiative is already developing strongly with hundreds of optometrists, schools and kindergartens signed on. We will endeavour to gain even more traction in the new schooling year.