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Optometry Australia’s Canberra parliamentary screening team (L-R front) Skye Cappuccio, Genevieve Quilty, Andrew Harris, Jared Slater, Doug DeLaMare, (rear) Christopher Poulter, Robert Sparkes, Simon Hanna
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Andrew Harris
President, Optometry Australia

Theory is one thing and experience is another. Different people absorb information in various ways.

This is why Optometry Australia conducted vision screening in June for parliamentarians and their staff in Parliament House, Canberra. The screening was an event. Organised by our policy and professional services teams, it coincided with the launch of our policy platform Line of Sight and generated media for the profession of optometry.

Beyond detecting any ocular issues that participants had that required further investigation, it facilitated a discussion around the role of Optometry in providing services to the Australian community. The screening provided context for the participants who could observe some of the characteristics of their own eyes and vision, the risks and requirements that they would face immediately and in the coming years, and in turn how this mirrored the broader community—as our parliament is often said to do and in many ways does.

In demonstrating how an optometrist can detect normal from abnormal, treatable from non-treatable, there was ample opportunity to show how an eye examination delivers real value to the Australian community.

All policy-makers understand the growing demand on health services that accompanies an ageing population. They understand the value of early detection and intervention that may include referral. They also understand the cost of tertiary services and the value of appropriate referral. For obvious reasons, under-use and over-use of referral resources is very expensive and inefficient. Strong primary care guards against this.

To meet the emerging demands of our community, strong primary care requires ongoing investment in technology, training and time. Within the context of the Federal Budget, the point was made that adequate resourcing of services is required for delivering value to the community.

In a broader sense, the community also has to understand the value of eye care and what it can do for them individually and more widely. This is an ongoing job for Optometry Australia and every optometrist every time an eye examination is performed.

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