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Celebration of education for TAFE NSW optical dispensers

02/07/2018By Matthew Woodley
The next wave of TAFE NSW-trained optical dispensers were lauded recently at an ADOA-hosted event that also included the surprise presentation of a life achievement award.

The 37th TAFE NSW Optical Dispensing Graduation ceremony and celebration was held at the end of May at Sydney’s Dockside, in recognition of the more than 60 students who had successfully completed the course.

The event coincided with the opening of Sydney’s Vivid Light Festival, resulting in a spectacular fireworks and light display throughout the night.


"Anyone can sell a pair of frames, but it’s more about understanding the prescription and what will work for best for that patient, because everyone’s an individual."
Keleigh Walsh, TAFE NSW

The evening was hosted by the NSW branch of the Australian Dispensing Opticians Association (ADOA) as part of its Celebration of Education night, and its new president, Ms Amelia Roberts, was on hand to open proceedings.

Roberts congratulated the students on their success and challenged them to become involved in their workplace and with their professional association, as well as remaining passionate members of the optical industry.

Industry guest Mr Michael Nasser, director of Opticare, also addressed the graduates, informing them that he had also graduated as an optical dispenser at a similar event many years prior.

Nasser said he enjoyed the optical dispensing industry more than practising law and advised them to take advantage of growing the digital side of their business through innovative marketing, combined with the knowledge and skills that they now possess.

Amelia Roberts presenting Martin Kocbek with ADOA Award
Amelia Roberts presenting Martin Kocbek with ADOA Award

One of the highlights of the evening was presentation of the TAFE NSW State Medal to Ms Rima Haynes, who also received the Practical Optical Dispensing Prize. TAFE NSW’s Ms Keleigh Walsh said the medal was special as it reflected more than just academic achievement and is only awarded to a few of the tens of thousands of TAFE NSW students across all courses.

“We have had them over the past few years but they are getting rarer and rarer. There are less than eight handed out across TAFE now so it is a very prestigious prize,” Walsh said.

“It also includes things like involvement in the industry, so it’s not just for what they do at TAFE. Rima has worked very hard to get to that level, but I must say Brian Foo, who received the Second in Course Prize, was in very close running for it.”

Walsh said the medal reflected well on both the students and the course, and she encouraged practices to continue supporting the training of optical dispensers.

“Anyone can sell a pair of frames, but it’s more about understanding the prescription and what will work for best for that patient, because everyone’s an individual. Optics isn’t a vending machine – you should be able to walk in and feel special, and our students understand that,” she said.

Prize winners Rima Haynes and Brian Foo with teacher Keleigh Walsh
Prize winners Rima Haynes and Brian Foo with teacher Keleigh Walsh

“We have an actual retail setting, and we also have a workshop that has edging and fitting, and all the equipment they need for their repairs as part of the training package. So for someone to say they’ve got a Certificate IV in Optical Dispensing from TAFE, I think they’re leaps and bounds above because they have had a lot of practical experience in our own workshops.

“We are really congratulating the practices that support their staff for doing the Certificate IV. It does take them out of practice to come to TAFE, but at the end of the day you’re having a lot fewer remakes because someone understands what the prescription is to start with.”

After thanking sponsors for their contributions to the evening, ADOA vice president Mr Martin Kocbek became the surprised recipient of the John Jackson ADOA Award for his contribution to both the association and the optical dispensing industry.



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