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The optical conference season has commenced in style with Australian Vision Conference (AVC) on the Gold Coast attracting delegates eager to attend an education program with a strong clinical focus, coupled with an impressive trade exhibition and the obligatory big night out.
David Foresto, President of the Optometrists Association of Australia (OAA) Queensland / Northern Territory Division welcomed delegates from all States and Territories of Australia as well as New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States, Singapore and Malaysia.
He said a major focus of this year’s conference will be the future of optometry and the divergence happening both within the workforce and in terms of scope of practice.
Mr. Foresto said another focus for this year’s AVC is education program centred on “spectacles and optics”. This he said, is in contrast with previous conferences that have concentrated on therapeutics. He acknowledged a strong line up of speakers that includes Professor Mo Jalie from the United Kingdom as well as a number of highly regarded local eye health experts.
He went on to thank the conference sponsors, among them Essilor which has sponsored AVC since its inception in 2001, and Bausch and Lomb who hosted this year’s opening conference breakfast.
AVC was officially opened by Queensland’s Assistant Health Minister, Dr. Chris Davis. Dr. Davis spoke of the challenges the Queensland government faces as it rises to meet the needs of an ageing population.
He said planning for health services in the future is “critical” because of finances and demographics – stating that the number of people aged 65 and over is expected to grow by 54 per cent between 2011 and 2021.
“Health care inflation in the public hospital system in Queensland has been 12 per cent per annum for the past 10 years and takes up 25 per cent of the State budget,” he said. “On that trajectory… and based on the State Government’s ability to generate an increase in funds of 6 per cent per annum, by about 2032, health will consume the entire State budget. There will be nothing for education, infrastructure and so on,” he said.
He said it is therefore important for government to be working with private practitioners across the entire health sector to ease long waiting lists and offer patients more alternatives. Mr. Davis acknowledged the working relationship that exists between Queensland Health and the OAA Queensland / Northern Territory division which has led to the establishment of successful trial programs at Ipswich and Toowoomba hospital. He said the programs had been well received and had reduced waiting lists significantly.