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Thursday, 21 March 2013
Page: 3034

Mr HAYES (Fowler) (11:59): Today I rise to acknowledge a great man of optometry, Professor Brian Layland OAM, and the formidable impact that he has had on optometry as an industry but also as a profession in Australia. Brian Layland graduated with an ASTC in optometry in 1953 and completed a bachelor of science degree in 1958. He served as an optometrist in his own practice for 45 years until he took up his current role as director of Aboriginal programs for the Brien Holden Vision Institute.

Brian Layland has had an enormous impact on Australian optometry. He has demonstrated a passion for the profession in developing its expertise; he is also behind most of the major advances that have been made in the profession over his whole time in practice. For more than 50 years now, Brian has had a fierce commitment to advancing eye care in Australia. He showed this fierce commitment in 1972, when together with his colleague Brien Holden he decided, in the aftermath of Cyclone Tracy, to visit and stay in Darwin. They held the view that if there was complete devastation in Darwin they should be there, because people would have lost everything, including their glasses. So they looked after people throughout the whole period of reconstruction. Brian was instrumental in the inclusion of optometry services in the Medicare benefits scheme and the veterans' scheme. The inclusion of optometry in these schemes took him over 22 years to achieve, but he succeeded.

Professor Layland led the call for optometrists to be permitted to use diagnostic drugs, and he was involved in the first optometry courses in Australia to provide accredited education to equip optometrists to do so. He is, as I say, fiercely dedicated to the profession of optometry and to ensuring that it is treated as a profession. Few have made as great an impact on optometry as has Professor Brian Layland. Without doubt optometry in Australia and the lives of many people have been affected in a positive way by his care, his dedication and his efforts to ensure that public health recognises proper diagnostic approaches to eye care.

Professor Layland was awarded the OAM—the Medal of the Order of Australia—for his services to professional optometry and made an honorary life member of the Australian Optometrical Association of New South Wales. He has contributed much in his time, and, together with Professor Brien Holden, he is now overseeing in excess of 111 eye care centres which administer eye care to the Aboriginal population in remote and regional Australia. Professor Layland does not believe in retirement. He will stay actively involved in his profession, particularly in looking after the Aboriginal community.

Another thing I learned about Brian Layland—and I have known him for some considerable time—is that he took it upon himself to deliver services to Western Samoa. He had the rather simple view that, if you can serve someone by adjusting their vision, you can give them back their independence. That view has meant that he has become involved in ensuring that those in less privileged positions than we are in have proper eye treatment and regain their independence. In the Australian context Professor Layland has worked on restorative vision—particularly in the Aboriginal sector—for those who are suffering from trachoma, and his work has been astounding. It was very interesting to hear the other day the leaders of the Aboriginal community praising his efforts as a true and genuine Australian.

I am very privileged and happy to know Brian Layland, but I am even more happy to be able to say that we as a community have gained much from his great efforts and dedication to his profession.