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New leadership appointments for Optometry Australia

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Darrell Baker of Western Australia has been appointed President of Optometry Australia and Kylie Harris of Victoria, Deputy President.

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Darrell Baker has been appointed President of Optometry Australia and Kylie Harris, Deputy President, following Optometry Australia’s annual general meeting held yesterday in Canberra.

Darrell, who was previously Deputy President of Optometry Australia, replaces Andrew Hogan as President. Andrew has also stepped down from the national board.

‘Andrew did a fantastic job leading the national organisation over the past 12 months and as a two-term director serving a combined eight years. On behalf of the board, I extend our sincere thanks and gratitude to him as it is not always easy managing your responsibilities as an optometrist with the demands of being a director,’ Darrell said.

Darrell and Kylie’s appointment to the two top leadership positions for optometrists, comes at an important time in our history as today we celebrate the 100th anniversary since the conception of a national organisation and tonight, we release Optometry 2040, the 20-year agenda and strategy to create a plausible, sustainable future for optometry in Australia.

They concurred it was the responsibility of the national board, the Optometry Australia team and all State organisations that make up our federated body, to drive the necessary reform to create a sustainable sector offering highly rewarding careers for optometrists along with optimal eye health care outcomes for all Australians.

Darrell Baker

Darrell said that he was delighted to assume the responsibility of President of Optometry Australia at this important time in the organisation’s history.

‘This next phase for our organisation will ensure maximal use and further development of the skills of optometrists and practice and clinical management to meet rapidly changing patient requirements and community eye health demands.

‘There is no place for reactive organisations in today’s world – we need to be proactive and forward thinking if we are to shape our future as a profession, ensure education and competency requirements for optometrists are aligned to changes brought about by demographic, technology, economic, government and societal forces.

‘I hope to see increased support and education for all the dedicated individuals who sit on state and national boards as directors. Their valuable contribution comes with increasingly higher levels of accountability and responsibility in a highly regulated governance environment.

‘It is my goal to create a highly supportive structure that nurtures collaboration in the way that optometry is shaped and that also encourages talented individuals to join these boards, and I am excited about the leadership challenge this presents,’ Darrell said.

Darrell joined the Optometry Western Australia board in the early 2000s. He was subsequently appointed President, stepping down from this role in 2017 and in November this year, resigned his position on the state board to concentrate on managing the responsibilities of national President.

He was appointed the Western Australia representative on the Optometry Australia board in November 2011 and served as Deputy President prior to his recent appointment to President.

He has a particular interest in the management of neuro-ophthalmic disorders, an active interest in myopia control and orthokeratology and recently completed his therapeutic endorsement training.

He and his wife Christine own two practices in Perth.

Kylie Harris

Kylie who served two separate terms on the Optometry Victoria board, including President of the state organisation from 2013-2016, was appointed to the Optometry Australia board in December 2016.

‘I am very interested in evolving the scope of practice for optometry, supporting research, high quality education, and improving the patient experience as they are crucial for our profession to succeed.

‘When I chose optometry as a profession, I was unaware of the tremendous opportunities that it would deliver in terms of the sheer variety of directions that it could take you.

‘Since starting my journey back in 1987, I have found optometry has provided a highly rewarding career,’ Kylie said.

Her career has embraced research, working within an ophthalmology practice which provided exposure to a lot of pathology, cataract and other surgeries before evolving to referrer liaison.

‘My five years as referrer liaison helped me arrive at what is today, my passion – improving the patient experience. This means putting processes in place that support the best patient outcomes which at times, don’t marry up with the concept of profit.

‘Without patients however, we don’t have a business – so it is critical that patient care is central to everything we do as optometrists.’

Kylie said she was passionate about contributing to the sector by taking on leadership roles that contribute to sector planning.

‘We must continue to evolve as a profession and Optometry Australia has a unique role in positioning and leading optometry.’

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