Optometry professionals and other contributors to optometry have been recognised at the Australian College of Optometry (ACO) and National Vision Research Institute (NVRI) Annual General Meeting.
The virtual meeting, held on Monday, 30 May 2022, was also an opportunity to welcome newly appointed Council member Darrell Baker.
The ACO’s Council provides strategic oversight that supports the organisation in its vision, mission, values and strategic direction. A Perth based optometrist, Mr Baker has experience in corporate governance, and a strong desire to give back to the profession and the community it serves.
“It’s an honour and privilege to have been elected to the Council of the ACO, and I’m excited to become engaged in a parallel facet of optometry, namely public health and research, having recently served on the board of Optometry Australia,” Mr Baker commented. “I hope to bring my experience in advocacy, strategy and relationships in that part of the industry to the leadership team, and look forward to continued contribution to the profession and community. This will be a significant learning experience for me, and I look forward to the challenge, but in the comfort of what I can see is a talented and committed staff and Council.”
I am delighted that the membership has delivered a broad diversity of people to our governance body
Council members, Sophie Koh and current ACO President Rodney Hodge, were reappointed for a further two-year term.
ACO President, Rodney Hodge, said “I am delighted that the membership has delivered a broad diversity of people to our governance body. I am pleased to be part of the of the diversity of the ACO council. I am confident that I can and will contribute in a meaningful way to the delivery of the aspirational goals of our organisation.”
Sophie Koh, reappointed Council member, commented, “The ACO Council needs to reflect the diversity of our workforce and the communities we serve. I encourage existing and potential ACO members to seek out Council nomination, as I did. You have the opportunity to make a real impact on the future direction of the ACO.”
The following awards were presented to key contributors to eye health in Australia.
ACO Member Award for Outstanding Service
The ACO Member Award for Outstanding Services is awarded to Members who have made exceptional contributions to the ACO. This is a peer nominated award.
Awarded to Colin Bates.
National Vision Research Institute Fellowship
Researchers who have made a significant contribution to the practice and profession of vision science and are held in high esteem. This is a peer nominated award.
Awarded to Professor Nathan Efron AC.
Members who have made a significant contribution to the practice and profession of optometry and to the community. Fellows are held in high esteem within the profession.
Awarded to Dr Zhichao Wu.
Nicola Family Travel Grant
This grant supports young professionals as they begin their career in vision research.
Awarded to Jordan Siberras.
ACO Outstanding University Graduate Award
Australian Universities are invited to nominate their most outstanding optometry graduate through combined evaluation of academic excellence and professional commitment.
Deakin University: Madeline Baker,
Flinders University: Eilish Devlin,
University of Melbourne: Jessica Atme,
UNSW Sydney: Ayman Saleh Moussa, and
Queensland University of Technology: Kristin Parker.
Outstanding Graduate Award for ACO Certificate in Ocular Therapeutics
This award is granted in recognition of the candidate who has achieved the highest score across all assessments for their graduating year of the ACO Certificate in Ocular Therapeutics.
Awarded to Rachel Smeal.
Annual Report Launched
The ACO 2021’s Annual Report was also launched during the AGM, showcasing the extensive contribution the College makes to eye health in the community. In 2021, 34,064 patients were seen by the ACO, 86% of whom were eligible for the Victorian Eyecare Service (VES). Highlighting the diverse patient base, a total of 128 languages other than English were preferred by patients.
The College provides several advanced clinical services to patients with progressive and complex conditions. Since opening a myopia control clinic in February care has been provided to over 220 patients, many experiencing disadvantage and unable to access this care privately.
2021 marked twenty years of ACO’s Homeless Persons Eyecare Program (HPEP), a collaborative model of care in partnership with the Royal District Nursing Service (now Bolton Clarke) that sees services delivered at safe, community-based sites for people experiencing homelessness.
Despite COVID restrictions impacting the College’s outreach services work, over the year 15 optometrists visited 153 sites, providing 253 days of outreach services. In a typical year, the ACO would visit over 240 sites, some multiple times across the year.
The full annual report, which details the ACO’s work in education, research and clinical services is online at https://www.aco.org.au/aco-publications.