Optometry Board of Australia chairman Mr Ian Bluntish and his New Zealand counterpart have joined an expanding Crisis Leadership Group established by Optometry Australia (OA) in response to the COVID-19 emergency.
In recent weeks, OA formed the group which comprises the organisation’s national board directors, as well as all state division presidents and CEOs. Last week, it was announced Bluntish would join alongside his Kiwi equivalent Mr Jayesh Chouhan, chair of the Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board (ODOB), and New Zealand Association of Optometrists (NZAO) president Ms Rochelle van Eysden.
OA CEO Ms Lyn Brodie said the Crisis Leadership Group would meet every Tuesday night for one hour. It is planning to do so for at least the next three months before re-evaluating.
“We believe it is absolutely critical that we work cohesively and collaboratively to ensure the long-term sustainability of our profession and the association. Our members will look to us to lead and presenting a united group and commitment at this level, is powerful,” she said.
“We need to deal with the immediate, short, medium and long-term situation, at the strategic level. We need to leverage the disruption we are facing to ensure our members and the profession is stronger in recovery than it has ever been. We have the opportunity to truly lead, by not simply surviving but using disruption to the advantage of our members and the profession.”
Brodie said the group had identified five key areas to address. It had also determined protocols and processes to ensure consistent messaging and maximisation of benefits to members through collaboration.
The group is currently focusing on:
- Advice and action regarding clinical practice and protocols in a pandemic.
- Ensuring continuity of CPD.
- Business continuity and transformation – for the benefit of employers, employees, locums and casuals.
- Member mental health and well-being.
- Lobbying and advocacy.
- Media relations.
Among its most notable decisions so far, the group agreed on a nationally consistent 50% membership fee reduction, equating to six months-worth of free membership.
Commenting on the addition of the NZOA and ODBO, Brodie said the group is considering the sector and profession broadly, with there being alignment across both two countries.
“We can learn from each other – sharing ideas and we go through different stages of lockdown and practice restrictions,” she said.
“Optometry Australia is supporting NZAO with access to clinical and other relevant materials. Optometry Australia is working through the provision of access to CPD/Institute to all NZ optometrists free for six months over the crisis.”