Early in 2023 it was announced that Optometry Victoria South Australia (OV/SA) and Optometry Tasmania (OTas) had commenced plans to integrate with Optometry Australia (OA). The outcome was to be decided by member vote.
At the Optometry Victoria South Australia General Meeting on 18 July 2023, it was announced that with 86% of the member vote in favour, the proposed operational integration with Optometry Australia would proceed. And, at its Annual General Meeting on 5 August, it was announced that Optometry Tasmania will also integrate with Optometry Australia, based on a yes vote of voting members.
Integration for all parties is set to be finalised by 1 November 2023.
In a joint announcement at the beginning of the integration campaign from OV/SA President Elise Pocknee-Clem, OTas President John Kingshott and OA President Margaret Lam said that the integration is a fantastic opportunity to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
The predicted benefits of the integration included:
- A strong and aligned strategic focus, more efficiently positioned to identify and prioritise critical issues affecting our sector.
- A more cohesive and effective advocacy approach through a single voice.
- Strengthening and strategically positioning the voice of optometrists.
- Simplified governance, organisational and operational structure, enabling us to streamline our decision-making processes, reduce duplication and create greater efficiencies.
- Greater long-term financial stability and resources to fund future strategies and projects.
- Reducing confusion for our other stakeholders, such as heads of ophthalmology and patient advocacy groups, enhancing our influence.
- Maximising member engagement through connecting with members in meaningful ways, continuing to create opportunities for networking, professional development and collaboration at the local and national level.
The new model will see OA continuing to provide members nationally with access to its full range of member services. The new, integrated structure will also deliver local member engagement, CPD, advocacy and stakeholder engagement in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. No major assets of any organisation will be transferred initially, and services will be integrated and evolved over time to continue to maximise value for members.
Critically, no member will be worse off because of an integration and the final decision on whether it proceeds will rest with members who will be invited to vote on the change.
For more information about the project, read the frequently asked questions here.
Amalgamation of Optometry Victoria and Optometry SA
After an historic vote by members, Optometry Victoria and Optometry South Australia amalgamated from 1 July 2019 under the new name of Optometry Victoria South Australia (OV/SA).
The vote, which was the first of its kind in the history of both organisations showed members overwhelmingly voting in favour of the proposal to amalgamate. Of the 376 votes cast by Victorian members (26 per cent of the membership), around 96 per cent supported the change.
This resounding show of support was replicated in South Australia where around 97 per cent of members supported the proposal.
The voting was conducted by independent organisation Big Pulse with the voting tally overseen by independent accounting firm McLean Delmo Bentleys.
The suggestion to amalgamate was first proposed by the Optometry South Australia Board in 2014. The Boards of both organisations worked hard behind the scenes since then to build relationships, model options and determine how amalgamation might work in practice.
Overwhelmingly, the Boards of both organisations determined that joining forces as a new, combined single entity would mean an effective, efficient and supportive member organisation for both South Australian and Victorian optometrists into the future.
The new organisation has been in operation from 1 July 2019.