The Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians board (ODOB) and the New Zealand Association of Optometrists (NZAO) have joined Optometry Australia’s Covid-19 Crisis Leadership Group (CLG).
Optometry Australia (OA), the national body representing optometrists across Australia, established the group to deal with how the pandemic effects its members at a strategic level. “It is critical that we have a cohesive and collaborative approach to ensure the long term sustainably of our profession and the association,” said OA CEO Lyn Brodie. “By working collaboratively, we are in a strong position to leverage the disruption we are facing to ensure our members and the profession are stronger in recovery than they have ever been. We have the opportunity to truly lead, by not simply surviving but using the disruption to the advantage of the profession.”
The CLG is comprised of all OA’s national board directors and CEO, all state division OA presidents and CEOs, Optometry Board of Australia chairman Ian Bluntish, ODOB chair Jayesh Chouhan and NZAO president Rochelle van Eysden. It is focused on five key areas:
- Advice and action regarding clinical practice and protocols in a pandemic
- Continuity of CPD
- Business continuity and transformation – for employers, employees and locums
- Member mental health and well-being
- Lobbying and advocacy
Brodie said the OA invited its New Zealand counterparts to join the crisis group as the organisations have always had a close relationship and there is a great deal of alignment across the two countries. “We learn from each other and, as we go through different stages of lockdown and practice restrictions, we have continued to share ideas. OA is supporting NZAO with access to clinical and other relevant materials and we are working through the provision of access to our CPD programmes*.”
Chouhan said it’s great the organisations are working together. “Having unity and creating a positive and collegial relationship with other industry organisations is extremely important in times like this.”
If anything, the crisis has brought the trans-Tasman entities even closer, said Brodie, a situation she doesn’t see waning in the future.
CLG meets weekly and will continue to do so for the next three months when it will reevaluate. The meetings are facilitated by an external consultant engaged by OA last year to help it develop a transformational framework focused on areas that will bring substantial change to optometry. “Covid-19 is a real example of how disruption can substantially impact our sector,” said Brodie.