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HomeminewsOV/SA Moves Ahead Under New Leadership

OV/SA Moves Ahead Under New Leadership

With her feet firmly under the desk at Optometry Victoria South Australia (OV/ SA), Chief Executive Officer Ilsa Hampton is already making her commitment to supporting optometry and improving patient outcomes well known.

Ms Hampton, who came to OV/SA from the start-up membership organisation Meaningful Ageing Australia, said she is enjoying the opportunity to work with an established Association within a federated structure.

Optometry is increasingly getting evidence into practice, but I believe we can use implementation science to further apply and integrate research evidence into practice and policy

“OV/SA is in a really strong position. The amalgamation between Victoria and South Australia in 2019 was hugely successful, which is all credit to (former CEO) Pete Haydon and the Board. It’s delightful to look behind the scenes and discover that what we say we are doing is what we are doing.”

That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of challenges to work through.

High among them is the ongoing impact of COVID in the community. As Ms Hampton explained, “politics has taken over”, and the Government has removed many of the mandates previously in place to reduce the spread of COVID for both patients and allied health workers. This leaves the Association to do its best to support optometrists in managing staff and treating patients through ongoing waves of the pandemic.

COVID has also left many practices short on front-of-house staff, and practice owners mentally stressed, both issues Ms Hampton is working to address.

“A member survey identified these issues, and we are now digging deeper to find ways to support practices and attract staff to complex front-of-house roles,” she said.


While the National Office is working to ensure Medicare funding is sufficient for sustainable practice, perhaps one of the most pressing challenges in Ms Hampton’s new role is to help find a solution to the logjam for eye health services in the public hospital system. This is particularly problematic in South Australia, where some patients wait up to seven years for eye surgery. However, it’s not new to the state, which has been searching for solutions for some years. In 2020 a joint ophthalmology and optometry pilot at Modbury Hospital showed that 40-60% of the non-urgent waitlist could be effectively managed by optometrists in a collaborative care setting.

Despite this finding, Ms Hampton said, “the situation has gone from bad to worse and so we are looking at how we can help to be part of the solution… and how we can get shared ownership and agreement on a solution amongst multiple stakeholders.”

As part of this process, OV/SA hosted a roundtable for multiple stakeholders in eye health in early May. Along with OV/SA, there were representatives from Adelaide Medical School, Modbury Hospital, Flinders University, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Macular Disease Foundation Australia, Australian College of Optometry, the Indigenous Eye Health Group, University of Melbourne, and the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Flinders University generously provided the venue at the University’s City Campus.

At the time of writing this article, a second roundtable involving South Australian hospitals had been planned and the Chief of Staff for South Australia’s Minister of Health had been briefed to look at the options being put forward.

“There are many pieces to this puzzle, one of them, we have identified, is to improve the referrals made from optometry into public ophthalmology clinics. Optometrists need to be more confident about writing referrals to ensure people get the help they need, depending on their ocular condition and the level of urgency,” Ms Hampton explained. “Some patients may need to be escalated on the wait list, others can be moved down, and then there are others who can have their condition managed by an optometrist.

“Ophthalmologists have a real interest in optometrists collaborating on patient reviews, and preparatory work ahead of procedures,” she added.

When it comes to clinical practice, Ms Hampton is also eager to develop translation of evidence into practice.

“Optometry is increasingly getting evidence into practice, but I believe we can use implementation science to further apply and integrate research evidence into practice and policy,” she said.

With this in mind, she hopes to collaborate with Optometry Australia’s national office to develop an integrated CPD calendar with workshops, lectures and activities that build on knowledge rather than overlap.

“We’re also looking at ways to engage with suppliers so that we can present content that exposes members to the latest products, equipment and technology while maintaining a rigorous, independent, evidenced-based approach to education.”


In an effort to support members to provide culturally safe eye care, OV/SA will be encouraging members to undertake Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural awareness and responsiveness training.

“It’s important to start this process by strengthening our internal skills so we set a target for all staff at the OV/SA office to complete a training program run by Indigenous Allied Health Australian by midyear. Our Board members have also committed to completing the course. This ties in with something Optometry Australia has been doing – we want to be in sync with our Federal colleagues wherever we can.”


Running alongside all of this is OV/SA’s work to bring the fourth World Congress of Optometry (WCO) and O=MEGA23 to life. Themed Optometry Unites, Down Under the events are being delivered in partnership with the Optical Distributors and Manufacturers Association (ODMA).

The largest clinical conference and trade fair for optometry and the ophthalmic optics community in the Southern Hemisphere, the event was initially planned to take place in 2021 but was delayed due to the pandemic.

“This has been a big area of activity and already we have given it plenty of energy to develop a conference governance structure so that all stakeholders, internally and externally, are clear on who does what and to ensure that O=MEGA and the WCO are very integrated.

“We have established a program committee, a conference committee; the website (www.omega-event.org) is now live and we are working with an international event organiser.”

With lectures, workshops and poster presentations, as a well as a social program that includes small gatherings and large events, Ms Hampton said this will be a Congress that has something for everyone from the Australian and international eye care community.

“Some people feel comfortable presenting on stage, for others a more intimate poster presentation is more suited to their style or subject matter.”

OV/SA will be calling on the Australian and international eye care community to submit abstracts for presentation at the congress which takes place from 8–10 September 2023 in Melbourne.

For more information on O=MEGA and the WCO, see the article on page 30.