Optometry Australia (OA) is planning to expand its education programs internationally to showcase the contribution optometrists make to Australian eye health, while also meeting its social obligations by sharing knowledge in countries where the profession is less advanced.
The organisation has highlighted continuing professional education as a key facet in its recently-released 2021-2024 Strategic Plan, which is a collaboration between the national organisation and all state divisions.
The organisation said education was the driver of change and supported optometrists to meet community eye health expectations, emergent eye health conditions and evolving scope-of-practice.
“Tools such as webcasts, podcasts, on-demand courses, virtual and hybrid conferences and publications will play a strong role in our commitment to our members’ education needs. We will continue to expand our offerings and particularly, the provision of courses that members can access anytime, anywhere,” OA stated.
“We will also seek to take our quality education offshore and to share our knowledge with regions where optometry is less advanced and through this, contribute to our social responsibility obligations. By taking our education programs internationally, we can profile the strong contribution that our optometrists make in leading vision and community eye health services in Australia and through this, we can open up new and interesting opportunities for our members and profession.”
Emerging from “one of the most testing times in our history”
Released on 2 June, the strategic plan shares details of four key areas OA believes are critical to the sustainability of the profession, and the organisation itself. These include evolving scope-of-practice, continuing professional education, structure optimisation within the federated organisation, and sustainability.
“We must ensure that those within public health are aware of the role and the experience that optometrists bring to supporting community eye health,” OA stated, arguing that a highly-skilled optometry workforce operating at its maximum scope is vital to easing the pressure on public health management of eye disease.
Internally, the national body and its five state divisions are assessing how they can reduce duplication and better share services, resources and infrastructure to generate greater efficiencies.
“As a federated organisation, we must continue to challenge ourselves to find synergies in the way that we operate,” OA stated. “We can also represent our members more fully if we are consistent on a state and national level in how we evolve and sustain the profession.”
In terms of sustainability, OA said the profession must be mindful of risks, embrace opportunities and demonstrate brave decision making – “whether this means investing more in digital technologies and applications, embracing data to drive decisions or seeking ways to reduce our environmental footprint”.
In a message to members, president Darrell Baker said the organisation’s new 2021-2024 Strategic Plan would ensure OA accomplished members’ preferred future identified in its 2040 transformation plan.
“Our new Shared Strategic Plan for the 2021-2024 period, continues to build on the solid outcomes that the national team, and your state divisions, have delivered in the last three years,” he said.
“Our sector has strengthened substantially as a result of this work – and more recently, emerged strongly from one of the most testing times in our history.”