Feature, Orthoptics Australia

The way forward in 2020

Orthoptics Australia is starting 2020 with a new board and structure, giving the organisation an opportunity to review its priorities. President JANE SCHULLER outlines five she would like to focus on.

Jane Schuller.

Welcome to 2020, a significant year for the eye healthcare sector and an ideal opportunity to raise public awareness of everything eye related. For Orthoptics Australia (OA) the year promises plenty of change as we commence with a new board, constitution and organisational structure.

In light of this, there are five priorities that I believe the association can focus on in order to improve what we do.

The first is a strengthening of OA’s governance processes, which will provide a more robust system capable of supporting the organisation’s evolution. The new constitution under the Corporations Act will provide the board with greater clarity around our responsibilities and what we will be held accountable for.

My immediate priority is to establish the new board and work to develop governance documentation in support of the new model. This includes the board charter, an improved board induction process and reviewing all our terms of reference around sub-committees.

Secondly, we need to invest in our strategic plan. It is important for any organisation to have a clear strategic roadmap that details what it hopes to achieve. We need to anchor ourselves in what OA is today and imagine what a successful tomorrow looks like.

We should be asking ourselves: What is a realistic view of OA’s current state? Where would we like to be in 12 months’ time? Where we would we like to be in 24 months’ time? It is important that we are thoughtful about the destination, while making sure it is something that we can collectively measure and hold ourselves accountable to. We have to be thoughtful about our priorities, particularly where we invest our resources and place our focus. This is an important piece of work that will help inform all decisions across the board.

The third priority is to focus more on measuring OA’s non-financial performance. For OA to pursue its purpose there must be clear goals and timeframes within which they are to be achieved. Then, progress needs to be measured against the strategy. Management expert Peter Drucker famously said: “What gets measured, gets managed”, but you could also say what is left unmeasured risks being ignored.

As a not-for-profit OA exists for a purpose, and measuring non-financial performance determines how well we are achieving our objectives. How can we really know whether we are achieving our mission and vision? How can we measure our impact within the eyecare sector and the community? How well are we performing against the expectations we set our ourselves and of those set by others? Are there better ways to measure our effectiveness in areas such as advocacy?

These questions, and more, are important considerations for the incoming board.

Next is OA’s member value proposition, which we are continually evaluating as an association. That promise clearly states what we provide and how it is received, appreciated, respected and needed. To establish a strong value proposition, it is important that OA engages with members, as well as non-members, and really listens to what they want. We can use this information to offer new benefits or reposition existing ones.

My final priority is continuing to raise the profile of OA. We are a small profession that plays a vital role in eye healthcare. To continue to have our voice heard, we must continue our advocacy work through AHPA and Vision2020 where strength in numbers provides access and information that we may not have otherwise. As we continue to raise our profile in the sector, we increase the likelihood of us being trusted as an authoritative voice on issues affecting the profession and our patients.

I am very excited about OA’s future. It is excellent to be working with the new board, as well as all the members and volunteers who make this association what it is. It is a great time to be part of the Australian eyecare sector.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jane Schuller is the president and past Victorian chair of Orthoptics Australia. She currently works at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in the ocular mobility clinic, Parkville Eye Specialists and at Bayside Eye Specialists as a senior orthoptist.