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HomemioptometryOWA: Ringing in the New Year with a WAVE

OWA: Ringing in the New Year with a WAVE

Sometimes, if we wish to move forward, it is important that we look backward. Evan MacRae reviews the year that was and provides a sneak peek into the year ahead for Optometry Western Australia.

On behalf of Optometry WA (OWA), I welcome readers to the beginning of 2023.

Looking back at 2022, it is impossible not to reflect on what was an incredibly busy year behind the scenes. I thank OWA President Stephanie Bahler and board members during the period for their diligence and absolute desire to achieve the best results possible for our members. We also acknowledge and thank Robert Howie for his work as the WA national representative and welcome Kevin Sun into the role.

Stephanie Bahler was re-elected as President at the OWA annual general meeting (AGM) late in 2022. She is joined by new board members Sinead Denny and a specialist coopted board member Alan Choy.

David Hsu stepped down at the AGM, and we warmly thank him for his service.

Sinead, Alan, and the board will continue to add to the already diverse expertise and viewpoints of our board members. We have a balanced representative group of board members covering all stages of an optometrist’s life cycle, including strong representation from our state’s early career optometrists.


Following the stellar success of our WAVE Hybrid conferences in 2021 and 2022, and WAVE on demand, we are pleased to advise that WAVE Hybrid is back for 2023.

The countdown is on, with only a month to go. You can attend WAVE 2023’s face-to-face sessions or watch online. While not wishing to negate the importance or contribution of our online delegates, we think 2023 will be the year of the face-to-face delegate. Look out for the many incentives on offer for physical attendance at the event. If you can attend in person, we hope you will join us for the often talked about Saturday Sundowner at the Fremantle Esplanade Hotel.

Our packed program is designed to meet the Optometry Board Australia’s CPD requirements, to accommodate members’ individual learning plans, and to provide interactivity.

OWA has many plans in place to ensure your education, continued protection, safety, and wellbeing while at WAVE, as well as opportunities to catch up with colleagues from around the country. If you have not registered yet, we encourage you to access the member portal.

We hope WAVE will become a major part of your learning journey in 2023 and beyond supported by monthly CPD events (live and streamed to ensure access for our regional members) and national initiatives. Read our regular OWA emails for details.

We hope WAVE will become a major part of your learning journey…


OWA and our national body, Optometry Australia, are continuing with several initiatives where we believe a difference can be made.

  • Actively encouraging people to have their eyes checked,
  • Our hospital referral working group created in early 2022 will continue to push forward, putting in place effective and consistent hospital referral guidelines, criteria, and templates to assist with more effective and consistent triaging,
  • Progressing successful collaborative care models that involve optometry (for example, management of stable glaucoma patients, post-operative care of cataract patients, and screening patients with diabetic retinopathy).

OWA continues to actively lobby to secure oral prescribing rights for therapeutically endorsed optometrists and to pressure local decision makers for significant improvements to the subsidised spectacle scheme in WA. Unfortunately, these things do take some time to gain traction.

We remain focussed, however, on achieving positive outcomes. We hope that discussions with the University of WA and their optometry students can lead to partnerships that further enhance programs like St Patrick’s Community Support Centre clinic, which provides health services for homeless people.

OWA remains committed to progressing with the implementation of a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). This is a strategic document that supports our business plan and includes practical actions that will drive our contribution to reconciliation, both internally and in the communities in which we operate. The RAP Program guides organisations in developing respectful relationships and creating meaningful opportunities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We look forward to providing broader education on this process throughout the year.

With so much on the local and national agenda, I look forward to 2023 bringing even greater strength, resilience, balance, and a bright future for all optometrists, no matter where you are on your career journey.

Evan MacRae is the Chief Executive Officer of Optometry Western Australia.