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Apology

Firstly I offer my apologies for my absence at the AGM. On this one occasion I have had to put my own medical needs ahead of my duties as chairman of this group. However, you will be in the very safe hands of our deputy chairman Kevin Skipworth.  

Let me summarise 2019.

Let me also introduce the rest of our board:

Kevin Skipworth is  deputy chair

Lyn Smith is our secretary, treasurer  and website controller

 Nola Pense is our membership liaison director

Annette Clarkson is responsible for community relations

Finance

With any organisation it’s critical that there is a focus on the money and the accountability that goes with it. Whilst our financial resources are extremely limited we do have enough to run our programs and remain solvent. Each year our accounts have been audited by Mr Colin Beck to whom we owe a vote of thanks. He has carried out this work for many years on a pro bono basis. Lyn will talk in detail and copies of the audited accounts will be available for your perusal.

The grant from Connect Groups and the untied donation from Merz has kept us operational and solvent and able to do what we have done. Later we will address long term funding

Activities

Both Nola and Annette will fill in the detail later but let me confirm that everything we do is focused on meeting our three key objectives which are:

  1. Shortening the diagnosis period
  2. Directing people to treatment
  3. Helping people get on with their lives and reducing the long term effects to nuisance level

The founders of this group, Lesley Reynolds and Lyn Smith, set out to inform front line professional of this condition and this is still what we aim to do.

We have done mail-outs to thousands of GPs in WA and attended seminars where they gather. We have had articles in publications that they read.

Our newsletters to members keeps them abreast of developments as does our ever evolving website with its links to other relevant websites and clinical information.

Future Plans

For 2020 we have had to recognise that none of us are getting any younger so our efforts have to be focussed on where we can get the best bang for our buck.

Our website will inevitably be the hub of our information distribution network with an ever connected world. Dr Google will be asked for his/her opinion on diagnosis based on individual symptoms.

Notwithstanding Dr Google there are still the other three front line professions who are the first port of call for we blinkies. They are:

  • GPs
  • Optometrists
  • Pharmacists

Challenges ahead

Funding – whilst we have enough cash to meet our statutory obligations this year we will eventually need to raise more cash.

We also have a grant from ConnectGroups which will cover such capital expenditure as printing,  room hire and some branding activity

As we are totally run by volunteers we are very fortunate not to have pay for any support services especially all the website services that Lyn donates.

Succession — probably the biggest threat to our future is finding people to take over these roles from us five. We are all getting older and whilst we have the skills and abilities to keep the group running for another year or so we do need fresh blood.

Ideally they should come from within the patient group but as you can see only three of the five current directors are also patients. Kevin  and Annette generously give the time and expertise but our credit with them will eventually run out and need replacing. I do urge any of you within the group who feel you can make a contribution to consider it.

We have been really fortunate that Darrell Baker has agreed to speak to us at the AGM.

Darrell is not only a local optometrist with two practices in Perth but a year ago was elected President of Optometry Australia, The controlling body for the training, qualifying and ongoing professional development of optometrists

Darrell is well aware of Blepharospasm having attended a professional development seminar many years ago when Dr Raiter made a presentation and demonstrated injections. He is also a specialist in neuro-ophthalmic disorders which sounds right up our street

A few weeks ago Darrell very generously donated 3 pairs of fit over glasses with FL41 lenses for us to send out on loan to new members. We all thank him for that.

We have asked Darrell to talk about a few topics that are of interest to us all.

What is an optometrist?

How does this vary from optician and ophthalmologist ?

Varying skill sets?

Legal differences?

What financial support does the government offer?

Tips and tricks for young players?

FL41 – costs and options?

How can BAus best communicate with the members of Optometry Australia to raise awareness of BEB?

With our limited resources we are hoping to pick his brains on how best to get the Blepharospasm message to all optometrists around the country. In fact we did think that 2020 should be the year we focus on optometry as 2019 was the focus on GPs

Wouldn’t it be terrific if every optometrist in Australia was aware of BEB and referred them onto a qualified specialist for treatment? Being the intimate group we are I’m sure we could make this an interactive session so feel free to ask questions.

John Yeudall, Chairman

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