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Recipient of Order of Australia honoured PDF
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Australian News
Friday, 12 June 2009

Blind Citizens Australia congratulated Robert Jeffrey Altamore on receiving the Medal in the Order of Australia in the recent announcement of the 2009 Queen's Birthday honours.

Mr. Altamore, past President (2001 - 2007) and an active, long time member of Blind Citizens Australia has been awarded the Medal in the Order of Australia honour for his service to people with a vision impairment through advocacy roles with a range of organisations.

In announcing this years awards, Governor General Quentin Bryce said these "Awards in the Australian honours system represent the highest level of recognition accorded by our nation for outstanding achievement and service." David Blyth, President of Blind Citizens Australia, echoed the Governor General's sentiment.

Cataract services lacking in Australia and New Zealand PDF
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Australian News
Thursday, 11 June 2009
While cataract surgical outcomes are on par with developed countries around the world, cataract services on a whole are lacking in both Australia and New Zealand, according to Dr. Brian.

"The aim of cataract services is to provide surgery to and rehabilitate those who need it, want it and would benefit from it," Garry Brian, MD, said in a presentation at the joint meeting of the Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "Overall, service outcomes are probably poor, measured against transparency and fair access that privatizes those with need and potential for benefit."

Dr. Brian explained that cataract surgery is available in Australia and New Zealand for those who can afford to pay for it in private clinics, but for those dependent on public services who need and want cataract surgery, demand is increasingly outpacing available services.

Australia uses a system that Dr. Brian described as implicit rationing based on chronological queuing, which leads to the selection of those given services to be neither honest nor accountable. In New Zealand, however, there is explicit rationing, which attempts to be fair and objective with a selection process based on need and likely benefit, taking into account a number of variables such as visual function and quality of life.

Medicare in bad health PDF
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Australian News
Thursday, 04 June 2009
Sick Australians are going to have to pay up when Medicare, Australia's free healthcare system, is forced to close its doors. That time may come sooner than expected.

In an interview, NSW Health director-general Debora Piccone said that "we are really on the edge of losing the universal healthcare system that this country has." Rising costs and an ageing population have sparked concerns the medicare system could come to an end in just five years. "I would have (previously) said we'd had 10 years to run. It's now looking like we've got five years to run because the cost escalations are so significant," she said.

State health authorities have revealed we are heading for a US-style user pays system, where insurance premiums exceed $3000 even with employer subsidies. Under the US system there is no free health care. It is a "for-profit system" in which people only get the treatment they can afford - not the treatment they need. Essentially, your health insurance fund - not doctors - decide what medical treatment will be given. In the US, where there is no Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, the cost of routine diabetes, cholesterol and blood-pressure medications is around $1,000 per month.

All of this change is prompting a plan to combine state and federal health funding to take control of hospitals and patient care.

New Global CEO for Optometry Giving Sight PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 03 June 2009

After 5 years as both Executive Chair and CEO of global fundraising organization, Optometry Giving Sight, Professor Brien Holden has stepped down as CEO and the Board has appointed Clive Miller. Mr Miller has been with the organization for three years, initially as the Director of Marketing and Fundraising and, for the past 2 years, as Deputy CEO.

Professor Holden will remain as Executive Chair and will continue to provide strategic direction and oversight to Optometry Giving Sight. The move is part of Professor Holden’s desire to empower his team.

Clive Miller has worked in the non government sector since 1987, primarily as the head of Fundraising and Marketing for the AIDS Trust of Australia, AUSTCARE, the Yothu Yindi Foundation, the Fred Hollows Foundation and UNSW Foundation. He has an MBA from University of Technology, Sydney.

CERA appoints new Managing Director PDF
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Australian News
Tuesday, 02 June 2009

Professor Jonathan Crowston has been appointed as the new Managing Director of the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA), starting on 1 June 2009. Concurrently, the University of Melbourne is appointing him to the Ringland Anderson Chair of Ophthalmology, Australia’s oldest and most prestigious specialist Chair in this field. Professor Crowston was formally selected for these roles following an international search.

A glaucoma specialist with science and medical qualifications, Jonathan Crowston was born and educated in London and trained in ophthalmology at Moorfields Eye Hospital. He moved to Melbourne in 2006 when he was appointed Professor of Glaucoma by the University of Melbourne. Over the past three years, he has established a new basic science laboratory at CERA and built a strong team working on glaucoma research.

Fastest Retail Rollout in History for Specsavers in Australia PDF
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Australian News
Monday, 01 June 2009

Specsavers has reported staggering growth of 325% in the past year of operations – bucking the economic downturn and dire industry projections with record week-on-week figures. The Australian retail rollout has been the fastest the company has ever seen in its 25-year history, during which time it has branched into a total of 10 countries.

Since May last year, the business has assisted local optometrists to open 110 new Specsavers stores, with a total of 171 stores now open in Australia. Specsavers believes it has snatched a 16.4%  annualised market share by value from a standing start in February 2008 and is now the second biggest optical retailer in Australia.

The company is planning to open another 50 stores in the next six months, creating new Aussie jobs, and opportunities for local optometrists who wish to run their own businesses. An additional 200 new jobs are being created at the MCG-sized manufacturing and operational facility due to open later this year in Port Melbourne.  

The brand’s runaway success flies in the face of industry analyst IBIS World’s predictions in February of a 0.2% contraction in the optical dispensing market, and puts the less than 1% growth figures of competitors in the shade.

Peter Larsen, Managing Director of Specsavers Australia, said, “We knew we were bringing a winning formula to Australians but even we can’t believe how successful Specsavers has been – especially in the middle of a global economic crisis. Our results are better than we expected even before the financial crisis hit.

“This growth is against the trend predicted by industry analyst IBIS World who forecast the Australian optometry and optical dispensing market to contract by 0.2%.  It is also against the trend seen by other optical retailers, which media has quoted as experiencing less than 1% growth or no growth.

“By contrast, Specsavers has posted record earnings week after week in 2009, with some stores experiencing over 300% growth during the past 12 months. On average, our stores grew by 40.9% (like for like) during the past 12 months and the company grew by 325% overall. When you consider that other optometry businesses are bragging about not going backwards during the financial crisis, it really puts into perspective what an incredible achievement this is.”

However, notes that most of Specsavers' growth is based on acquisitions of existing optical retailers and it still has to be seen whether Specsavers will be able to continue to improve its position in the Australian market once acquisition opportunities have dried out.

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