With the aim to create value that far exceeds expectations, Optometry Australia (OA) ensures members receive substantial returns on their membership investment each year. The evidence of this is outlined here.
Members are central to all our decision making. This is reflected in our shared Strategic Plan, developed with state divisions, which guides us to focus on priorities that ensure we lead, engage and promote optometry, optometrists and community eye health, enabled by an enduring organisation that is sustainable and fit for purpose.
Long-term planning and forecasting through our work with member-led advisory and working groups, ensures the sustainability of our profession
Each year optometrists join or renew their membership, resulting in OA representing approximately 85% of all registered optometrists. We are particularly diligent in managing each member’s investment.
So, what happens each year when a member renews? Optometrists join their state division. Each state division provides a range of local services and also passes on a portion of the fee to OA so that we can provide a range of services for members, including programs to progress the sector.
In addition to those funds received by the divisions, OA contributes a substantial amount in order to create a much larger pool of funds to deliver our member programs, services and support. We drive this revenue from a range of external sources so there is no further impost on members.
We know how crucial it is that members have premium professional indemnity (PII) insurance cover, instant access to a medicolegal hotline and confidential optometry advisors in case something goes wrong. The first allocation of funds therefore, is to ensure that members have this level of PII cover for protection and peace of mind.
We then allocate the remaining funds across our pillars, with 30% assigned to ‘Lead’ initiatives, 40% to ‘Engage’ activities, 15% to ‘Promote’ programs, and 15% allotted for ‘Endure’ enablers.
Evolving scope and future-proofing the profession come under our ‘Lead’ agenda, comprising a range of initiatives. These encompass lobbying Government and Department of Health decision makers, and other health professions, to ensure they embrace the changes that we believe are necessary for our highly-skilled optometry workforce to be utilised to their maximum skill-level.
We influence outcomes that benefit the profession through our work with the MBS Review Task Force, our seat on the Ophthalmology Implementation Liaison Group, participation on numerous sector and government boards and committees, and overseeing competency standards for Australian optometrists. Long-term planning and forecasting through our work with member-led advisory and working groups, ensures the sustainability of our profession.
Our ‘Engage’ activities are complimentary with membership and are all about ensuring our members have programs and services to support them throughout their career.
Major engagement comes through the work of the Optometry Australia Institute of Excellence with its host of live and on-demand programs and learning tools providing members with access to quality, flexible education. Our confidential advisory service is there if members ever need help with a query or to manage an issue, as are our leadership, career development and mental health programs, plus a vast range of other services. Communication is key and so we keep members fully informed through a variety of tools such as electronic newsletters, social media and our website.
‘Promote’ initiatives are designed to drive patients into practices. Our long-running Good vision for life consumer campaign ensures that consumers better understand the importance of eye health and vision care, and that seeing an optometrist is part of their regular health regime. We do this by profiling optometrists and eye health in consumer media channels – such as newspapers, radio and television. We survey Australians to find out their attitudes to eye health, we build awareness of optometry via our social media pages and consumer newsletter, and constantly promote our Find an Optometrist search platform. We also encourage patient referrals, through promoting the important role that optometrists play in healthcare to the broader health community.
OA operates at the highest levels of governance and aims for best practice throughout the organisation. We operate successfully as the peak professional body by embodying this culture, and this ensures we ‘Endure’. Our amazing people bring our dynamic strategic plans to life and achieve goals for members. Importantly, we understand that we need to evolve in line with how the profession evolves, and we are constantly looking at how we work with all state divisions to create efficiencies to increase investment in member services. ‘Structure follows strategy’ and so it’s critical that we assess and develop a structure that is fit for purpose to ensure that members’ return on investment exceeds expectations.
We have quantifiable measures built in to our planning. Achieving member growth to now represent 85% of all registered optometrists and providing over 60% of members’ CPD requirements in the last year are part of our KPIs. Results from OA’s 2021 member survey highlighted that 94% of members considered the organisation to be member-focused, 86% cited they would highly or likely recommend membership, and 85% believed that the services delivered provided them with good value for money. Trust in OA rose from 76.7%, when this last benchmark was measured, to 96% in 2021.
We certainly hope that this commentary provides an understanding of OA’s efforts to ensure a substantial multiplier effect of member fee investment.
Lyn Brodie is the Chief Executive Officer of Optometry Australia.