NZOPA Exec attendance of 2019 AOPA Congress




It was another very busy Congress packed with many learning and discussion opportunities for two members of the NZOPA Exec team. The Congress was held in the heart of Melbourne meant access to the event was more affordable and everything on site.

Mark Leonida as Vice President and representing Orthotists along with Jen Wright our Technical exec member representing the Prosthetists, were attending the congress and developing our links with AOPA Exec and members alike.

As well as the busy workshop sessions held on Thursday and the main program running two simultaneous sessions for either Orthotics or Prosthetics, selection of the presentations was very difficult.

A busy NZOPA Exec agenda consisting of meetings with AOPA Executive was also scheduled and the following topics discussed for the planning of next years AGM and members voting for advance and future planning for the O & P profession in New Zealand. Thank you to Jessica Landers for her time from the busy AOPA exec schedule and congress duties for including the time for the portal and alliance and development of the organizations. Jessica’s role will be changing within the OPA environment and dealing with the accreditation of the Sunshine Coast University which has now graduated their firsts 8 candidates this year and a further 11 expected to graduate in December 2019.


Discussion with AOPA  included;

  • Progress AHANZ full membership, to give us security in numbers with other Allied professions.
    • this requires our documentation now to be passed by the membership and exec and then forward to the AHANZ exec, being finalised and ready on for agreement, these documents include;
      • Standards of practice
      • Complaints process
    • this aligns with AOPA and their equivalent inclusion in the allied workplace.
  • AOPA /NZOPA Portal and the implementation of the new CPD  system and accreditation was well received in the last accreditation year, and this will moving forward be the only way, to attain accreditation through the NZOPA in the future. Guiding some of our membership through this has been challenging, but mentoring them along with the AOPA staff has worked in the majority of  scenarios and members adopting the system, further developments and increasing the skill sets and accreditation standards to bring them in line with our AOPA colleagues will allow freer and more likely exchange of skills and employment opportunities with Australia in the future with a parallel system being run like for like on both side of the Tasmin being the eventual goal.
  • CPD changes that AOPA are introducing for their own membership in the 2019-20 year will not be rolled into the NZOPA /AOPA portal, and agreement to keep the CPD at current portal requirements for the NZOPA membership was agreed. These include a change in their categories to coincide with the AHANZ equivalent in Australia and their change in the weighted hours for CPD to become real hour coordinated.
  • Accreditation /CPD year, to aid the NZOPA executive to complete multiple tasks and reduce time and financial costs, the coincidence and bringing our accreditation year in line with the end of financial year as per the AOPA accreditation year was discussed and was an area for NZOPA discussion. We are almost there at the end of this accreditation year, due to the role over of the 2018-19 period and introduction of the new CPD portal.  Aligning this in the 2020-21 year would make sense to both organisations and reduce administrative duties and burden.
  • A meeting with Jessica Landers the AOPA accreditation lead contact for our Portal maintenance presented in the 3rd-day sessions on the international collaboration with the example of the successful NZOPA CPD portal project which has completed its first-year accreditation with NZOPA members. The presentation and collaboration led to applause and cheers from the delegates who see the alliance as a huge plus for the O & P industry internationally and as leaders in the global industry forum. Jessica has changed her role within AOPA from membership officer to Accreditation Manager who will be overseeing all accreditation of both university courses, accredited course content CPD matters.
  • Leigh Clark presented along with AOPA executive describing how linking the portal and other alliance’s with the current ISPO regions at the International IPSO conference in Japan, that the world federation of O&P bodies is looking to a single overseeing body to voice for the profession and increase awareness and funding required across the different continents.

Areas of mass discussion amongst service providers including;

  • Mentoring of graduates was a topic of discussion and the clinical and technical continuation of their post-graduate careers. In fact the lack of it. There are some really great employers that give and allow a huge amount of mentoring which makes for graduates being a productive and valued member of the teams they are working with, but some aren’t given that opportunity, and the retention of those graduates is poor and they move on very quickly. We are trying to introduce a mentoring package and stream with topics, access, and time frames to allow for their learning and engagement in the field to continue once they leave tertiary studies with their qualification. We hope this will be taken up and incorporated by both Australian and New Zealand employers in the future. There is now a shift both at La Trobe and USC to provide the necessary skills for undergraduates to have skill sets to make them assessment proficient by the time they are attending placement in the final year to develop their clinical skills during these placements rather than placement process and interaction skill learning.
  • Technical training and technician retention was a recurring topic and discussion on accrediting technicians who have associate membership was thought to be an avenue worth exploring. The take-up however would likely below. There still needs to be a technical education program or sharing forum for techniques and skillset to prevent complete third party offshore migration, and the sustainability and maintenance of costs within the services, or escalation of custom work especially within the Orthotic practise will be force services to other professions for the supply of clinical solutions.
  • Developing awareness of the Professions in New Zealand is another topic to enhance and allow earlier access to the services, especially Orthotics. A report from the Health and Disability Commission NZ in October 2019 has highlighted 25% of their growing complaints were down to inability or long delays in the referrals and access times to many Ministry of Health Services. The NZOPA are now communicating with the Ministry to try to overcome some of the access restrictions which come about due to funding streams and local contractual agreements to help resolve these issues. A reduction in  Ministry spends in other clinical areas due to earlier access would be expected, which has been reported in both the United Kingdom and Australia, and expressed here before with little impact, but requires solid examples of where these savings can be made. With Australia now in full swing with the rollout of their NDIS funding,  the spends are larger but are diffused over a 24 month period. Their system was introduced in one state initially for the first 24 months and then introduced to the whole country. It may be a feasible solution for some of the smaller NZ DHB areas or those in rural locations with physical access being an issue.
  • Sean Gray, CEO of NZALs, presented the model for the high-risk diabetic amputee and treatment regime for contralateral limb care in the NZALs environment in Hamilton as part of the O&P contract which is shared by Private Orthotic and Ministry Prosthetic services. Sean’s lateral thinking and his teams’ application allowed for external funding to be established to allow a higher degree of intervention and earlier access to care for the Diabetic in the Waikato. Hopefully, this type of alternative thinking and model may be implemented throughout other DHB regions following the contracts review and collation of figures.

The plan is to highlight more of the presentations in another post or newsletter over the coming weeks once the information is collated and the dust has settled.

With these topics in mind, the current NZOPA Exec have work to finish and action on its memberships behalf for the future development and sustainability of the  O & P professions in New Zealand.


Mark Leonida 

Vice President NZOPA 2018-20

on behalf of the Executive team



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