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Federal Government accuses ophthalmologists of running a "dishonest scare campaign" PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
The federal government has accused ophthalmologists of running a "dishonest scare campaign" over its plans to slash Medicare rebates for cataract surgery, in a new advertising pitch to win public support for the move. In a hard-hitting attack advertisement released on the internet yesterday, the government insisted new technology had made cataract surgery quicker and cheaper, yet despite now taking just 15 minutes instead of one hour "some ophthalmologists still want to unfairly charge what they used to".

"The campaign ... is about a few specialists who can't see beyond their own financial self-interest," the advertisement concludes, against a soundtrack of ringing cash tills. The advertisement threatens to pour petrol onto an already smouldering dispute between the government and the ophthalmology profession, which responded to the Medicare cuts by placing advertisements in The Australian claiming the government was "blind to the facts".

But it may also be designed to change the positions of independent senators Nick Xenophon and Steve Fielding, who earlier this month said they would side with the opposition in a disallowance motion in the Senate to prevent the rebate cut going through. If either of the two independent senators sides with the opposition, the regulations introducing the cuts will fall.

The reductions, announced alongside other deep cuts to Medicare in the May federal budget, will see a commonly-used Medicare rebate for cataract surgery slashed by 50 per cent from $831.60 to $409.60, from November 1. The government says new technology has allowed the operation to be done much more quickly and cheaply than before and the old rebate is no longer justified. In addition, it has released data showing the highest 10 per cent of eye specialists earned more than $1.8 million each last year -- $1m of it through Medicare rebates.

The government has received backing from the Consumers Health Forum, which yesterday said the ophthalmologists' campaign reflected what happened "if a health minister stands between a medical specialist and their Medicare entitlement". But ophthalmologists counter that the cataract surgery rebate has already been slashed on previous occasions, and cutting it further will force patients who can afford it to pay more for their surgery through bigger out-of-pocket bills.

Those who cannot pay the hundreds of dollars' difference between the new rebate and the doctor's fee will be forced into the public system where they will have to wait longer for treatment, they claim.

The advertisement has been released on the ALP website, the video-sharing site YouTube and has also been emailed to Labor supporters. The party has not ruled out buying advertising space on commercial TV channels to run the 45-second spot. ALP national secretary Karl Bitar said the ad was designed to "highlight the facts".

However Australian Medical Assocation president Andrew Pesce condemned the ad as a "blatant ideological slur on doctors" and defended the previous advertisements run by eye surgeons as an "education campaign".

Vision Group institutes proceedings against ophthalmologist PDF
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Australian News
Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Vision Group has instituted proceedings against Dr Kitchen in the Supreme Court of Queensland regarding what it considers to be Dr Kitchen's wrongful termination of his service agreement with Vision Group.

The matter is now before the Court and Vision Group does not intend to make any further comment.

New appointments at the National Optometry Board PDF
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Australian News
Thursday, 24 September 2009
Colin Waldron has been appointed chairman of the inaugural National Optometry Board, which comprises six practitioner members; Colin Waldron, Ian Bluntish, John Davis, Jane Duffy, Derek Fails and Garry Fitzpatrick, and three community members; Judith Dikstein, Peta Frampton and Lawson Lobb. The appointments have been announced to prepare for implementation of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for Health Professions starting 1 July 2010.
Professor Holden invited to join Australia-India Council PDF
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Australian News
Friday, 18 September 2009
The Australia-India Council advances Australia and India’s interests by initiating and supporting activities designed to enhance awareness understanding and mutually beneficial activities between the peoples and institutions of Australia and India.

The Council was established in 1992 in response to a recommendation by the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, following an inquiry into Australia's relations with India.

Brien Holden OAM, Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Eye Research, International Centre for Eyecare Education (ICEE), Vision Cooperative Research Centre (Vision CRC) and Professor of Optometry at the University of NSW, has long enjoyed a relationship with India in research and education.

In 1978 Holden met Ophthalmologist, DrGullapalli Nag’ Rao, long before the first sod was turned on the construction of the
L V Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad India, where Rao is the Chair of the Board and Distinguished Chair of Eye Health.

Years later, in 1987, LVPEI was built along with the collaborations with the Institute for Eye Research and Cooperative Research Centre for Eye Research and Technology (CRCERT) - the predecessor to Vision CRC.

LVPEI, as it is more commonly termed, is now a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Prevention of Blindness, a comprehensive eye health facility and one of the world’s leading research institutes.

LVPEI honoured Holden in 1996 by naming their research facility the Professor Brien Holden Eye Research Centre.

The Institute for Eye Research, ICEE and Vision CRC relationship with LVPEI has continued to flourish with exchange of basic and applied research, post graduates and a growing list of global initiatives for avoidable blindness and refractive error.
Vision Australia helps Gippsland clients dine out PDF
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Australian News
Monday, 07 September 2009

Eating out can be a challenge for anyone who is blind or has low vision. How would you read the menu? How would you know where the food is on your plate?

Vision Australia recently established dining groups for people who are blind or have low vision in Warragul and Traralgon to help take the fear out of dining out. Following the success of these groups, Vision Australia is now establishing lunch and dinner groups for people who are blind or have low vision in East and South Gippsland.

Vision Australia's dining groups will run once a month and be supported by trained volunteers. To express interest in Vision Australia's lunch and dinner groups please contact Esis Tawfik at Vision Australia on 1300 84 74 66.

17th Biennial ODMAFAIR Stats Shine PDF
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Australian News
Friday, 04 September 2009

This year’s ODMAFAIR closed with an overwhelmingly positive response relayed from exhibitors and media alike. Now, with all the reports and stats gathered, the real success of the Fair can be analysed, revealing despite the challenging global economic climate in the latter half of 2008 and early 2009, results are far stronger than some commentators predicted.

The post event surveys show that 92% of exhibitors surveyed were satisfied with the outcomes of their participation in ODMAFAIR 2009. 96% reported their objectives for participating were well met.

69% of respondents rated attendance numbers as satisfactory, with 88% rating the audience as high quality with good business potential.

Only 2% of 2009 exhibitors suggested they did not plan to participate in the next ODMAFAIR, with 85% voting to keep ODMAFAIR presentations on a two-year cycle.

While overall attendance was down (as expected), some 20% on the record breaking 2007 Fair, the number of businesses represented by visitors at ODMAFAIR 2009 was only down 11%, likely attributable to acquisitions.

The 2009 attendance breakdown also reveals that 23% of visitors were Dispensers – the highest percentage of this category attending any one Fair since 1995. 29% of visitors were optometrists.

Interstate visitation followed the world-wide exhibition and event industries trend being down by 20%, however international attendance was down only 16%. It is worth noting visitation from New Zealand - a key market for the Fair, remained strong.

Attendees also praised the Fair highly. Results from the post event visitor survey reveal 89.4% rated the Fair as a successful industry presentation, meeting their needs.

37% of respondents advised they brought less people from their practice/business to the Fair in 2009 than they had to past presentations. Attendance statistics support this with the numbers of general practice staff attending down from 18% in 2007 to 15% of total attendance in 2009.

64% of respondents confirmed they were invited to other presentations held concurrently to the Fair. Only 36% of these actually attending any of these.

49.6% of visitors chose to visit the Fair on more than one day – 17% of those on all three days.


Plans are already in place for ODMAFAIR 2011 which will be held from Friday 8 to Sunday 11 July 2011, once again at the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre.

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