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OV/SA Life Member award

This story was created and shared by Optometry Victoria South Australia (OV/SA).

Over the course of Victorian and South Australian optometry history, members who went above and beyond and distinguished themselves in service to the profession have been awarded the Life Member award to recognise their achievements and contributions. Nominations are now open for the 2023 award, with some new criteria.

The award has traditionally been presented to members towards the end of their careers on a case-by-case basis, with the most recent award to Ian Bluntish, former Chair of the Optometry Board of Australia (OBA), Optometry Australia (OA), and Optometry South Australia (OSA) before it integrated into Optometry Victoria South Australia (OV/SA).

There are currently 6 Life Members, with 28 total past and present members resting on the Life Member wall at the OV/SA office in Carlton. Notably, only one of these members is female: former and first female Optometry Australia president Helen Robbins. In March 2022, Optometry Australia spoke to Helen about gender bias in the industry, and she spoke about the changes she has seen in the industry across her career.

A changing profession

After a series of discussions about the changing face of optometry, the OV/SA Life Member award will be open to annual nominations with refreshed criteria and an eye on reflecting a broader cross-section of the profession. The new criteria are aimed at broadening the pool of potential recipients while retaining the focus on individual merit.

Board Director Laura Carson says the changes are reflective of the ‘modern career’.

‘We’ve been discussing the Life Member award for a while. In consultation with our committees, concerns were raised that Life Membership was both very male dominated and usually awarded to those who had been members for their entire career without breaks. Now we want to broaden the eligibility to incorporate exceptional members who may have taken career breaks, moved overseas, or otherwise not maintained membership for their entire lives. We also want to place an emphasis on gender diversity, as there are so many female optometrists who have given so much to optometry and deserve to be recognised.

‘Our working group has come up with some fantastic ideas, which we have distilled down to the new guidelines for an annual award,’ she said.

Life Member award guidelines

Life Member awards are presented in recognition of the meritorious contribution of long and distinguished service by a member to optometry or the profession of optometry. This service to the profession can take many different forms, such as:

  • patient service excellence through technical expertise and standard of care, as evidenced by additional qualifications, certifications, patient and/or peer references
  • impact through innovation, such as new product development, protocol development, or creative patient service
  • intellectual contribution through teaching and/or research.
  • custodianship contribution through support of fellow optometrists such as mentoring and/or improvement of relations between optometry and associated professions
  • advocacy contribution, such as campaigning for expanded funding, scope of practice, professional support to increase the standing of optometry among community and government
  • community contribution through voluntary outreach and/or sustainability activities
  • evidence of humility, kindness and compassion within practice
  • being a person of high standing within the community, as evidenced by patient and/or peer professional references.

A member awarded Life Membership will be eligible for complimentary membership of OV/SA on an ongoing basis, beginning from the next membership year.

Nominees must be a member of OV/SA and be or have been an AHPRA registered optometrist. Members may self-nominate or be nominated by another OV/SA member, though the application form must be completed by two other independent people, at least one of which must also be an OV/SA member.

Every Life Member application will be considered by the board but only one Life Member will be appointed per year, with the opportunity for outstanding unsuccessful nominees to apply again in subsequent years. A Life Member does not have to be awarded annually if there are no suitable nominations.

The award will be presented at OV/SA’s major conference of the year, which this year will be O=MEGA23/WCO4 from 8–10 September in Melbourne.

Nominations are now open

If you believe you or someone you know is eligible and deserving of the Life Member award in 2023, download the nomination form and return it to Lyn Hsieh at

Download the nomination form here.

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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.