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Australia wins bid for 2021 World Congress of Optometry

Optometry Victoria South Australia (OV/SA) and the Optical Distributors & Manufacturers Association (ODMA) have secured hosting rights for the 4th World Congress of Optometry in 2021. The groups plan to run the event in conjunction with the country’s premiere optical show, O=MEGA.

In a major coup for both the eyecare sector and Victorian economy, the combined event will be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre between 2-4 September, 2021. It is expected to attract some 1,000 international visitors, as well as several thousand more local delegates.

It follows OV/SA and ODMA’s successful launch of the inaugural O=MEGA19 show in July. Replacing the former Southern Regional Congress (SRC) and ODMAFAIR, the joint venture brought together the Southern Hemisphere’s largest optometry clinical conference and Australia’s biggest trade show.

During that time, OV/SA and ODMA, with the support of the Melbourne Convention Bureau, were working behind the scenes on a pitch to host the prestigious global congress in collaboration with O=MEGA21. On Monday, the World Council of Optometry (WCO) confirmed the Australian team had secured hosting rights for the event.

“O=MEGA19 was an extremely ambitious project in and of itself, bringing together the biggest trade expo and clinical conference,” Mr Pete Haydon, CEO of the recently amalgamated OV/SA, said.

“It’s always been our ambition to turn this into more than the national event for Australia. We wanted it to be a regional event for Asia-Pacific, and what better than way to do that than through hosting a global congress in just O=MEGA’s second edition.”

This year’s 3rd World Congress of Optometry is being held in Orlando, Florida, from October 23-27 and features a program offering continuing professional development (CPD) in a variety of formats including lectures, hands-on workshops, scientific paper and poster sessions, and symposia.

The WCO, which comprises 83 member countries, has partnered with the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), will also host an exhibit hall and presentations from corporate partners about the latest products and technology.

Like the AAO, Haydon believed a prevailing factor for the Melbourne submission was OV/SA and ODMA’s track record in running marquee events for the national industry. He will travel to Orlando to attend a ceremony to officially recognise their successful bid, as well as examine how the congress integrated with the AAO.

For O=MEGA21’s clinical conference component, Haydon said organisers may consider running three simultaneous sessions, with the world congress-aligned sessions likely to have a greater public health focus. CPD points would be available for all jurisdictions, and factor in changes to Australian CPD requirements that come into effect in December 2020.

Ms Finola Carey, ODMA CEO, said the addition of the global congress would require some changes, but organisers would adopt the same formula that made O=MEGA19 successful.

“It will be designed to complement education and exhibition, so people can experience a complete growth opportunity over the three days from both a clinical and business perspective,” she said.

“O=MEGA19 was the coming together of our two events; it saw the Australian optical industry maturing in an event that was suitably representative of the entire industry. We had the world congress in mind when we first started talking about our partnership with OV/SA, so this has been part of our long-term plan.”

Mr Paul Folkesson, the incoming WCO president, added: “I’m delighted that the WCO is heading Down Under. We had a very strong international field of contenders wanting to host the 4th World Congress of Optometry, and the Melbourne bid was exceptional. I have no doubt that the Australians have the experience, infrastructure and professionalism to deliver an outstanding event.”

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