Unprecedented disruption is driving change and creating positive opportunities for the profession’s future.
We need to acknowledge how tough it has been for everyone within the eye health sector, especially for those optometrists subjected to long lockdowns. No state or territory has been immune to restrictions that have hampered the provision of eye health care. The team at Optometry Australia (OA) have never wavered from their focus on those we serve – our grassroots members. We believe we have continued to create exceptional value for our members as we support them through ongoing challenges while securing a brighter future.
As we near the end of yet another challenging year, I am pleased that we have been able to continue driving the profession forward to ensure its relevancy and value as a key part of the health and medical sector.
Since 2019, OA has been building its knowledge on how to use disruption as a strategic lever for change. The pandemic has provided us with unprecedented disruption, which we are using to accelerate action for optometrists to work to full scope.
We have also sought to ensure the highly-skilled optometry workforce can contribute to the pandemic recovery. Many optometrists have taken the opportunity to be part of the surge workforce to support COVID-19 healthcare efforts, including supporting the vaccine roll-out. Adding optometry to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) surge workforce sub-register, indicates that optometrists are very much a part of the critical response team working to get Australians back to normal life. This stands the profession in great stead as we move forward, cementing government, community and the broader health sector’s understanding of the value of optometrists as primary health care practitioners. It enhances optometry’s ability to ensure scope evolution. Ultimately, it supports optometrists to get to their preferred future well before 2040.
We wish everyone in the eye health sector a wonderful festive season and, more than ever, a safe, healthy and prosperous 2022.
I am honoured to have recently been appointed President of OA. I stand with Lyn in acknowledging yet another challenging year. I’m also optimistic about the future, as I know OA has strived to take full advantage of the opportunities the pandemic has presented over the past two years.
I believe we are much closer to reaching our 2040 preferred future than we might have been without COVID. I am committed to making sure we accelerate efforts to be the best and most progressive professional association we can be, to serve our membership, the optometry profession and our community. Importantly, this goal will lead and enable optometrists to meet the ever-changing needs of our community in the provision of quality and safe eye healthcare.
Working to full scope and evolving current scope will be key to realising our full value to the health system. I look forward to collaborating with all our stakeholders to ensure better access and eye care for all Australians.
Thoughout my career, I have been fortunate to be on Boards that have ethical, progressive and forward-thinking agendas. I joined the Optometry Victoria Board and was part of the efforts that drove the successful merger with Optometry South Australia. At the core of the success was a focus on members and what is best for them. Moving on to the OA Board has been a great experience, as the same culture of member focus and innovation is embedded throughout the national organisation.
As President, a focus for me will be to support more optometrists to build their leadership and governance skills, to enable them to enjoy making a difference to their profession – I am keen to see the diversity of representation reflect our members’ own diversity.
I want to thank my predecessor, Darrell Baker, for his contribution to OA and for leading the organisation through particularly challenging times. I’d also like to thank Kylie Harris, Allison McKendrick, Elise Pocknee-Clem and the other great Directors I have had the pleasure of working with so far, as well as Pete Haydon, for their example, support and mentorship to enable me to take on this role. I am grateful to have the support of a terrific current OA Board, along with Lyn Brodie and her exceptional team at OA. Importantly, I have the pleasure of working for and with our grassroots members and that is certainly an honour.
Lyn Brodie is the National Chief Executive Officer of Optometry Australia.
Murray Smith is an optometrist with Eyecare Plus Clifton Hill in Victoria, and the President of Optometry Australia.