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Kate Gifford

Kate Gifford


‘Who are YOU?’ said the Caterpillar. This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, ‘I – I hardly know, sir, just at present—at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I must have been changed several times since then.’1

How much has our profession changed since you graduated? New frontiers in clinical knowledge and technology, alteration in predominant employment settings and online challenges to core optometric practice income streams are just a few of the forces affecting our profession. I had no idea what an OCT or Sneaking Duck was when I graduated 11 years ago but now both are essential for understanding of the professional landscape.

Optometry sits on a new precipice of change and it’s time to choose your own professional adventure. Will you think and act on the value of your clinical time when the fee cap is lifted in 2015, or continue to tread the unsustainable path of cross subsidy through retail dispensing? Do you see your Optometry Australia membership as predominantly about insurance, or as an opportunity to act on your values for your profession?

Optometry Australia has redefined our identity and direction this year to that of an organisation determined to lead, engage and promote the profession. As Optometry Australia exists for social, educational and community profit rather than financial, our challenge is to define optometry in this changing landscape and to translate our mission into ongoing strategies and visible accomplishments.

The optometry profession of tomorrow is sustainable and evolving with new technology and knowledge, upheld against downward pressure on income. It is cohesive and collegiate, delivering best practice clinical care to a community with increasing needs. It is communicative and relevant to members, government, stakeholders and the public. Hopefully, you’re reading this and seeing the optometry of today, or its partial expression. Perhaps you think we have a long way to go.

Evolution, collegiality and communication. That’s what drives my desire to take on the role of National President and actively shape the present and future of optometry in Australia.

This time of significant change requires a dynamic organisation, governed by representatives who will embrace innovative strategy and are willing to do things differently. We have these skills and values across the country, and we can improve how we work together and are accountable to each other. Individually and as an organisation, we have to evolve and we each hold a personal stake in the picture of success.

Collegiality, engagement in your profession and upholding clinical standards are far more important than retail turf battles. We have common needs and interests, and we need you to join in the conversation.

We are aiming to communicate with you across multiple platforms, on matters of clinical, policy and social interest. Listen and talk to us—tell us what impacts your daily life. As the peak professional organisation, we need to ensure we constantly prove our value to you as members, because we need your support to continue being the impartial and influential voice for optometry.

I am honoured, eager and just the slightest bit frightened of becoming National President—but it is the sort of fear that sharpens your senses and enhances your performance. I look forward to the challenges and accomplishments ahead.

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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.