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Innovative optometry projects rewarded

12/12/2018By Myles Hume
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This year’s Victorian Optometrists Training and Education (VOTE) Trust grants have been awarded to projects aimed at up-skilling the profession in cultural safety and headache disorders.

The Optometry Council of Australia and New Zealand (OCANZ) and the University of Melbourne’s Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences each received $6,000 for their respective initiatives last week. The grants are allocated annually to advance the profession, while improving the ability of Victorian optometrists and students to practice and train.

This was the second consecutive year OCANZ received a VOTE Trust grant after it was awarded $6,000 last year to develop the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Framework for optometry training providers.

OCANZ executive office Ms Sian Lewis said this year’s “follow up grant” would help ensure the implementation of the framework through national workshops, where optometry educators would be trained in developing and delivering culturally safe programs.

With just 11 of Australia’s 5,600 optometrists identifying as Indigenous, project leaders hope it will benefit graduating optometrists in delivering improved services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Most optometry programs have had cultural competencies required as part of their courses for a long time. This is focusing in a more sustained effort with respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people because health outcomes data is telling us that the gap isn’t closing as much as it should,” Lewis said.

Meanwhile, the University of Melbourne’s Dr Bao Nguyen will lead a pilot program to incorporate a migraine screening tool into routine eye examinations. Her team will then investigate its effectiveness on patient management.

The results of this project will help develop future educational optometry resources about headache disorders and the role of optometrists in migraine management.

The grants are allocated by the VOTE Trust Grants Advisory Committee, comprising representatives from the Optometry Board of Australia, Government of Victoria, optometry peak bodies, and academic institutions.

IMAGE CAPTION: Optometry Council of Australia and New Zealand (OCANZ) executive officer Ms Sian Lewis with the curriculum framework aiming to improve cultural safety training.

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