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Optometry Australia continued to excel in the delivery of an extensive range of member-focused services and programs during the FY2021/2022 financial year.

President, Margaret Lam said that the national organisation’s focus is to create exceptional member value for all members, irrespective of their place of residence.

‘Providing accessible services and support to our urban and regional optometry members and their patients is vitally important to us,’ Dr Lam (Optom) said.

She added that while not as immediately observable, Optometry Australia continues to advocate strongly for evolving scope of practice and for optometrists to be better utilised to combat a tsunami of predicted eye disease in Australia.

‘We have already reached out to the new Minister for Health, Mark Butler, given Labor’s strong health agenda, and we will start to establish and strengthen relationships with new and returning MPs across the 47th Parliament, calling on them to prioritise eye health.

‘We are also keen for MBS indexation on optometric items to be readjusted so it aligns with CPI and we have strongly expressed our discontent of the current 1.6% rise.’

Achievement summary

Dr Lam delivered the following summary of FY2021/2022 achievements:

  • This year, Optometry Australia launched a position statement on the need for climate action and sustainability in optometry. A first step in a long-term project, the statement outlines work to be undertaken throughout the 2021-2024 Shared Strategic Plan period. Its launch follows climate policy consultation with members.
  • We were delighted with the response to our new GOLD program when we called for applications from members in May. This Governance, Oversight, Leadership and Development program recognises the need to have a cohort of optometrists who have the skills and commitment to hold leadership roles on boards within the optometry sector.
  • We responded to the challenge set by International Women’s Day 2022 to #BreakTheBias, by embarking on a 12-month program to better identify and understand gender bias in optometry. To commence this program, we filmed six female members and our CEO, to talk about their experience with gender bias. We also conducted a #BreakTheBias survey in March which revealed that 64% of the 317 members who responded, had experienced, encountered or witnessed gender bias, discrimination, harassing and/or aggressive behaviour in the workplace. This is unacceptable and Optometry Australia is committed to supporting the sector eliminate this behaviour in workplaces.
  • The organisation is also committed to becoming the primary provider of optometrists’ education in Australia through our Institute of Excellence. We continue to support a monthly program of live webcasts attended by 700-800 members per presentation, while our interactive workshops also attract strong participation.
  • Our education portfolio continues to expand through our library of on-demand courses including pre-recorded webcasts, clinical guides and our two flagship publications: Optometry Connection and Clinical & Experimental Optometry. And to support our podcast series, we now have our own Spotify channel.
  • Our third Optometry Virtually Connected education conference was held from 17-19 June 2022 in conjunction with the New Zealand Association of Optometrists. We were delighted to host 2,185 delegates to this event. Their engagement in the education program featuring 27 live presentations delivered by some of the world’s leading optometric educators and subject-matter experts, surpassed expectations.
  • The mental health of our members is important to Optometry Australia and to support you, this year we introduced an Employee Assistance Program service which enables you to access three private counselling sessions with a senior psychologist per annum. This strengthens our portfolio of complimentary tailored member services including access to a mentoring program, leadership programs and scholarships. All members can also access assistance and advice on complex issues such as legal, human resources, billing, patient and clinical management through our optometry advisor help desk.
  • Optometry Australia has launched a short video explaining how we allocate our budget annually to support the delivery of member services and programs as well as sector and organisation sustainability.
  • In responding to our increased member services, in October 2021, 94% of members said they considered the organisation to be member-focused, 86% cited they would highly or likely recommend membership and 85% believed that the services delivered provided them with good value for money. Trust in the organisation also rose to 96%.
  • Within the consumer space, we continue to promote eye health and the need to see an optometrist regularly throughout life via our successful Good vision for life campaign. Two years ago, we conducted extensive consumer research to ascertain Australians’ attitudes to their eye health and launched the 2020 Vision Index with results attracting unprecedented media coverage. We have just finalised similar research and will shortly launch the 2022 Vision Index to reveal where attitudes may have shifted.
  • In February 2022, Optometry Australia’s CEO Lyn Brodie was named one of Australia and New Zealand’s top association influencers. This major accolade recognises Lyn’s progressive and innovative approach to membership management. The organisation also won a 2021 Best Workplace Award in recognition of its exceptional levels of employee engagement and satisfaction.
  • We are close to launching our Reconciliation Action Plan – Innovative RAP, which provides our strategic approach to building respectful and productive relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations.

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Acknowledgement of Country

In the spirit of reconciliation Optometry Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.