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Yvonne O’sul­li­van Op­tometrist Part­ner at Spec­savers Dubbo Scot­land is a very beau­ti­ful place, but it is also very cold and rainy – not as sunny as Dubbo. Grow­ing up in Scot­land, there was not as much out­doorsy stuff as what you guys have here. When we moved here, we re­ally no­ticed that a lot of kids do lots of sports on week­ends and there are parks, and every­one is out­doors. Whereas in Scot­land, there are a lot more in­door ac­tiv­i­ties like swim­ming cen­tres. Grow­ing up, I was in the school band

– I used to play the cor­net. So that took up a lot of my time be­fore and af­ter school.

I was de­cid­ing be­tween op­tom­e­try and phar­macy when I was in my fi­nal years of school. I ap­plied for both and got into both, but I thought eyes would be more ex­cit­ing than drugs (laughs). And I get to spend time with peo­ple one on one and have a good chat. I worked for Spec­savers in a lit­tle town on the west coast of Scot­land.

It was a sim­i­lar de­mo­graphic to Dubbo – Scot­land’s equiv­a­lent of the coun­try. I worked with the same store in Scot­land for nine and a half years. So all the way through uni un­til I was qual­i­fied, and then I was an op­tometrist for about six years. I got to the point where I knew I wanted more and I wanted my own prac­tice. I

had a look around Scot­land to see if there were any prac­tices that were look­ing for an Op­tometrist Part­ner, but be­cause Spec­savers has been in Scot­land for 30 years, it is all very static. When I looked out here (to Aus­tralia), there was a lot more hap­pen­ing and

a lot more new op­por­tu­ni­ties. I did the Op­tom­e­try Coun­cil of Aus­tralia and New Zealand (OCANZ) ex­ams, so that I could come out and prac­tice in Aus­tralia.

I moved here four years ago, when I was 29. My hus­band Mark is Scot­tish too and he moved with me, so it was just the two of us. Both of our sets of our par­ents and ex­tended fam­ily are still in Scot­land. Mark is a Physics teacher and worked at St Johns for the first three years we were here, and he has just re­cently moved to Dis­tance Ed­u­ca­tion. There is noth­ing like dis­tance ed­u­ca­tion in Scot­land, be­cause there is no dis­tance (laughs). It’s about four hours’ drive from top to bot­tom... Mov­ing to Aus­tralia gave a whole dif­fer­ent ap­pre­ci­a­tion of scale. For ex­am­ple, my sis­ter in Scot­land lived maybe two hours away from me and I’d see her once ev­ery cou­ple of months to make the trip, be­cause it was seen as quite a big trip and you had to make a week­end of it. Whereas here, we’ll just go to Or­ange for the day or go to Mudgee and go wine tast­ing. You cer­tainly learn to travel a lot more when you come here. Which is great, we love the space. Amer­ica is a slightly dif­fer­ent op­tom­e­try

model to Aus­tralia and the UK, as they have to go through med­i­cal school first. They’re more of an oph­thal­mol­o­gist to be hon­est, so you see an eye sur­geon for your glasses. Whereas op­tometrists here are moreso just glasses and lenses. So Amer­ica was never on the cards. Spec­savers also goes out to Spain, the Nether­lands, Nor­way, Swe­den and a lot of Europe. But I re­ally liked the idea of Aus­tralia be­cause it is so sim­i­lar in cul­ture to the UK. And I am not very good with lan­guages (laughs), so I couldn’t see

my­self learn­ing a new lan­guage to move. It’s the same coun­try kind of men­tal­ity.

All the pa­tients are re­ally lovely and friendly and have time for you. I didn’t want to move to a city store. I wouldn’t do any­thing else, I love my job. And hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to not only

do the op­tom­e­try side of the job but have my own prac­tice and team to serve the com­mu­nity – I re­ally en­joy that.

- Photo by Sophia Rouse, In­ter­view by Darcee Nixon

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