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Landslide vote sees Optometry VIC and SA amalgamate

07/11/2018By Myles Hume
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Optometry Victoria (OV) will amalgamate with its South Australian counterpart after more than 96% of member votes backed the partnership.

The new entity, Optometry Victoria South Australia, will operate from July next year. The inaugural board will consist of five Victorian members and three from South Australia (SA).

The newly formed amalgamation will be based in Melbourne, however a satellite office in Adelaide will remain staffed for a two-year transition period. Current Optometry South Australia CEO Ms Libby Boschen will be an advisor to the new entity with her local, political and professional expertise.


“We had great voter turnout, we had an absolutely overwhelming ‘yes’ vote, so that means we have the mandate and now we have to deliver on it.”
Pete Haydon, OV

With more than 500 members voting last week, it was largest voter turnout for constitutional change in either organisations’ history, according to Optometry Australia (OA). OV CEO Mr Pete Haydon told Insight that 96% of Victorian voters and 97% in South Australia supported the change.

“We had great voter turnout, we had an absolutely overwhelming ‘yes’ vote, so that means we have the mandate and now we have to deliver on it,” Haydon said.

The amalgamation came after Optometry South Australia (OSA), the smaller of the two organisations with about 250 members, approached OV in 2014. Since then, staff and board members have been considering the best amalgamation model before putting it to a vote.

Haydon hoped the new partnership would offer optometrists a better service for less money, which could reduce member fees or slow the rate in which they increase.

“Both states, individually, are quite successful in terms of hanging onto their members, so we think if we can make it better and cheaper we will be even better at that,” he said.

OSA president Mr Kurt Larsen said the organisation was looking forward to working closely with other states to benefit all members.

“We were hoping that our proposal would get over the line, but 97% saying yes of more than half of our members who voted, is staggering,” he said.

“It clearly demonstrates that members are ready for the innovation and changes required to keep our organisation strong. We are excited and look forward to the road ahead which we will now travel with our colleagues in Victoria.”

OA CEO Ms Lyn Brodie said the result was an “emphatic endorsement for unity”.

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“Importantly, the decision by the boards to consider merging both organisations was made with members’ interests being top of mind,” she said.

“The union of these two proud and long-standing organisations marks an evolution in keeping with our Optometry 2040 project – which is about taking control of, and shaping optometry’s future over the next 20 years.”

OV and OSA directors will appoint the new board members. The inaugural board will operate for 15 months before holding its first AGM in October 2020.

IMAGE CAPTION: Caption (left to right) Optometry South Australia (OSA) President Kurt Larsen, Optometry Victoria (OV) CEO Pete Haydon, OSA CEO Libby Boschen and OV President Murray Smith. Image courtesy: Optometry Australia

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