Optometry Australia CEO Lyn Brodie tenders resignation

Optometry Australia (OA) CEO Ms Lyn Brodie has tended her resignation after five years at the helm of the national peak body.

She will leave in mid-October and plans to take some time out “to refresh and refocus her energy”.

Brodie’s resignation is among a series of recent high-level changes within the organisation, with former president Mr Murray Smith stepping down after seven months in the role for personal reasons. He was subsequently replaced by Sydney optometrist Dr Margaret Lam, with Mrs Fiona Moore becoming deputy president and Ms Tori Halsey re-appointed treasurer.

“I have always believed that a CEO role is a five- to- seven-year stint, to ensure a refresh for the organisation and the CEO. It has been a wonderful and incredibly rewarding five years at Optometry Australia,” Brodie said in a message to members on Tuesday 19 July.

“Margaret’s appointment as president is particularly special, as an example of state directors on their state boards standing for leadership positions to help their profession, and her valuable contributions on the state and national boards.

“I want to pay tribute to all the OA directors that I have worked with both current and past. A special thanks to past presidents, Murray Smith, Darrell Baker and Andrew Hogan. My biggest shout out goes to the team at the national organisation, who are extraordinary. They have a single focus and that is to serve you our optometrist members. Everything we do is for you, and we jointly celebrate your success.”

Reform on the horizon 

The departure of OA’s CEO and president – within four weeks of one another – comes as state divisions of the federation voted on a new model to fund OA. The national body receives a portion of its income from the fees state divisions collect from optometrists, under a constitutional fee agreement.

Optometry Australia is a federated, not-for-profit organisation comprising a national organisation (Optometry Australia) based in Melbourne which collaborates with the five state bodies.

Although OA and the state divisions did not wish to provide details after a 29 June meeting, prior to this Optometry Victoria South Australia CEO Ms Ilsa Hampton said the organisation had been in discussion with the other state divisions to develop “a few changes to the OA constitution”.

“This is mostly a procedural matter and is designed to ensure the divisions and national have far greater clarity in decision making for the ultimate benefit of all members,” Hampton said at the time.

“The changes are designed to bring the federation closer together; to strengthen strategy and operations for the benefit of our membership nationally. We are confident that all current member services including CPD, support, PII, advocacy and other initiatives at the national and state levels will continue uninterrupted.”

Hunt for successor commences 

Lam also paid tribute to Brodie’s contributions. She said the national board followed contemporary governance practice and so each year considers succession planning for the Board and CEO.

Lam said this meant OA was well placed to shortly commence the recruitment process to find a new CEO. In the interim, arrangements have been made for OA’s existing national office team members to work closely with Brodie and ensure the support for all national office operations runs smoothly.

“I am pleased to have worked with Lyn for quite a number of years, and I have great respect for her and her many achievements for us at Optometry Australia for our grassroots members,” Lam said.

“Lyn has been a true visionary whose innovation has allowed Optometry Australia to execute all its functions at a higher gear, and positively influenced the future direction of Australian optometry through the creation of a clear pathway for evolution and sustainability.

“Since commencing her role in July 2017, she has been instrumental in re-shaping and expanding the range of services that Optometry Australia delivers to members.”

Lam said this included expanding OA’s Member Advisory Service to support over 2,000 members who contact OA annually for one-on-one advice, the introduction of OA’s Institute of Excellence and the southern hemisphere’s leading virtual optometry conference, Optometry Virtually Connected.

She said Brodie also championed the 50% member fee relief during the COVID-19 peak and in 2018 led the development of ‘Optometry 2040 plan’.

“By building strong relationships with key government decision makers and RANZCO, optometrists now have a seat on the Ophthalmology Implementation Liaison Group. We also have been invited to participate in an Implementation Liaison Group established by the Department of Health with the goal of supporting the implementation of changes to the MBS items resulting from the recommendations of the MBS Review Taskforce,” Lam added.

“These relationships also paved the way for Optometry Australia to secure a $420,000 Federal Government grant to amplify our ‘Good vision for life’ campaign into 2020 and 2021.”

Finally, Lam highlighted results from a recent member survey that showed:

  • 94% of members said they considered the OA to be member-focused
  • 86% cited you would highly or likely recommend membership
  • 85% said the services we deliver provide good value for money
  • Trust in Optometry Australia has risen from a baseline measure of 76.7% in 2016, to 96%.

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