Optometry Australia has announced its new National President, Kate Gifford, who is only the second female and youngest candidate to be elected to the optometry profession’s highest office.
The sole practice owner of Gerry & Johnson Optometrists in Brisbane, Mrs Gifford’s appointment further exemplifies the trending nature of Australia’s small business sector which has seen a significant growth in women running a business .
Mrs Gifford said: “I enjoy the challenges of running my own practice as this has taught me to constantly innovate and to demonstrate value to our patients”.
She takes this philosophy into her leadership roles: “Being involved in the sector’s professional development is important to me, and I’m particularly interested in advancing and evolving clinical and commercial education for optometrists.
“I’m also very passionate about Optometry Australia and the role that it plays, in collaboration with the State Divisions, in leading, engaging and promoting the profession of optometry and eye and vision health.
“The optometry sector is changing rapidly, not only due to technology advancements but due to policy, structural, societal and gender adjustments. Optometry Australia is working to ensure that these changes are benefitting and not hampering our profession, supporting the profession in meeting the eye health and vision care needs of the Australian community.
“Preventative eye health and vision care is critical to a healthy Australia and as a result of the work undertaken by Optometry Australia, and the profession of optometry, we have one of the best optometry sectors in the world. I am deeply proud to be given this opportunity to lead the sector.”
Mrs Gifford has been a Director of Optometry Australia since late 2010. She is formerly President of, and remains on the Board of Optometry Queensland and Northern Territory. She is a graduate from QUT (2003) where she received First Class Honours and a University Medal. She joined Patrick Gerry Optometrists, now Gerry & Johnson, in early 2005 and took over the practice in July 2007.
A part-time PhD student since 2011, Mrs Gifford specialises in children’s vision, binocular vision and contact lenses. An award winning clinical supervisor and visiting lecturer at QUT, she has written 21 peer reviewed and professional publications and presented more than 50 lecturers at conferences in Australia, New Zealand, England and the USA.
“I enjoy solving clinical puzzles and delivering best practice clinical care to each of my patients. I also enjoy being involved in a professional smorgasbord of activities and believe that my diverse professional experience informs my understanding of nearly every facet of optometry - clinical, academic, research, professional education and business ownership”, Mrs Gifford said.
Mrs Gifford succeeds Andrew Harris who has served on the National and Victorian Division Boards of Optometry Australia over the last 15 years. He held the role of National President from 2007 to 2010 and resumed the role in late 2011.
Mrs Gifford said she was honoured to be taking over the role of National President. “Andrew Harris has done an outstanding job leading the optometry sector and through the recent brand review, putting the foundations in place to support the profession strongly into the future.
“We sincerely wish him every success as he returns his attention to his private practice whilst pursuing his commitments on a
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Optometry Australia is the peak professional body for optometrists. Representing more than 90% of all Australian-based optometrists, Optometry Australia’s focus is to lead and advance the profession of optometry by putting eye-health front and centre of Australian healthcare. Optometry Australia was formerly known as Optometrists Association Australia. The name change was made on 28 May 2014 to better reflect its role and purpose.