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Optometry Australia director Robert Howie meeting with Patrick Gorman MP

Members of the Optometry Australia national Board recently met with their MPs to put eye health on the political agenda ahead of the 2022 federal election.

As the peak professional body for optometrists, Optometry Australia believes it is imperative that major decision makers recognise the important contribution of optometry in Australian eye care, and support the readily achievable actions outlined in its Working Together for Better Eye Care policy platform.

Fiona Moore

Optometry Australia director Fiona Moore recently met with her MP Michelle Landry to communicate the importance of increasing optometric scope of practice in Australia.

‘Optometrists are educated in prescribing oral medications but are not currently permitted to by federal and state law,’ Fiona said.

‘In regional Queensland, we have very limited access to ophthalmologists, especially in the public system. Even privately, we only have one eye specialist permanently in town and when he is on holiday, we have no one. So, the responsibility for eye health falls to the optometry community.

‘Access to oral prescribing for optometrists would only improve our care for our community.’

On her experience speaking to Michelle Landry, Fiona said the discussion came easily.

‘I focused on how beneficial oral prescribing would be to regional Queensland, and I presented her with a couple of cases that I have been involved in.

‘Michelle was supportive and understanding of how removing the word ‘topical’ from our national law would allow optometrists to better utilise our skills, and provide full scope therapeutic care to our patients.

‘I would encourage all optometrists to approach their local members as the changes we are asking for are important and only come through advocacy.’

Tori Halsey

Fellow Board director, and treasurer, Tori Halsey also set up a meeting with her MP, Andrew Wilkie, to discuss eye care accessibility in Australia.

‘I reached out to Andrew because, as an Independent, he has an important role in the balance of decisions made in Canberra and within Tasmania. He has always been an advocate for allied health and healthcare, so I felt he’d be open to discussing the importance of accessibility and scope of practice, as well as the role of optometrists in Australia,’ Tori said.

‘We had open talks about community eye health, reducing visual impairment and barriers to accessing eye care.

‘It was a very positive experience – it’s amazing how quickly time passes when you’re talking about something you’re passionate about!’

On her experience with advocacy work, Tori says, ‘We have strength in numbers, and the more of us that reach out, the more likely we are to see progress and change.’

She adds: ‘I encourage you to reach out to Optometry Australia as their policy team can provide you with advice on how to easily connect with your local pollies. They also have detailed election and policy platforms that can provide you with extra confidence in your meetings!’

Robert Howie

Western Australian Board director Robert Howie said his meeting with federal electorate Patrick Gorman MP was both enjoyable and productive.

‘I wrote to Patrick to highlight ways we could work together to enhance eye care in our community,’ Robert said.

‘I told him that, as an optometrist from Dianella, it’s distressing to see people suffer from vision loss and eye health issues that could be averted if treated earlier.

‘At the meeting, we discussed how it was beneficial for our community to understand the importance of regular eye examinations, as well as the importance of promptly acting on eye and vision concerns.

‘We also talked about optometry and ophthalmology and how we work collaboratively, and optometrists prescribing oral therapeutics and performing intravitreal injections.

‘I noted the increase in childhood myopia and the increased risks in pathology caused later in life, and glaucoma, diabetes and macular degeneration as important elements of promoting eye care messaging and eye care health in the community.’

Regarding the meeting outcomes, Robert said, ‘Patrick and I agreed to meet later in the year where he will come to visit my practice. Patrick said he will also liaise with Shadow Minister for Health Mark Butler on the topics we discussed in the meeting.’

Will you advocate for change?

As important members of the community, optometrists wield the power to move the profession forward through advocacy.

Optometry Australia’s online advocacy tool makes it easy for you to lend your support to our advocacy campaign by contacting your local federal MP and inviting them to meet to discuss why optometry matters.

Find out more about our advocacy work here.

You might also be interested in: 

  • Victorian optometrist Mina You met with her federal MP Michael Sukkar to advocate for the optometry sector and put eye health on the agenda.
  • Optometry Australia Board director Theo Charalambous meets with Dr Katie Allen MP to push for increasing optometric scope of practice in Australia
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