The year was a challenging one for optometrists and
students in the face of COVID-19. The Optometry
Board of Australia worked with other National Boards
and Ahpra to support health practitioners during the
pandemic. Regulatory approaches were modified to
accommodate exceptional circumstances, and the
Board continued to carry out its work remotely.
The pandemic continued to create issues, including
the completion of clinical placements by optometry
students. The Board maintained its oversight, ensuring
that alternative teaching strategies and equivalent
learning experiences deployed by approved programs
were fit for purpose.
We encouraged practitioners to continue to complete
continuing professional development (CPD), while
recognising the difficulty in meeting CPD requirements
due to COVID-19. The Board issued an assurance that it
would not take action if practitioners could not meet
the CPD registration standard due to the pandemic and
also introduced a policy on financial hardship due to
The Board convened its annual meeting of the
Optometry Regulatory Reference Group in October. This
was the first time that the group had met virtually.
Members of the Board provided virtual lectures on
professional obligations to final-year optometry
students graduating from a number of Board-approved
courses in 2020.
On 1 December, the Board’s revised Continuing
professional development registration standard came
into effect. The new requirements were a departure
from the points-based system previously used by the
profession. The revised CPD registration standard
meant that CPD courses were no longer accredited
by the Board, but allowed greater flexibility in choice
of learning activities. The emphasis on identifying
individual learning goals meant that practitioners are
able to plan their CPD activities so that they can focus
on their individual requirements based on their practice
setting, professional interests and patient needs.
Resources included templates, fact sheets and tips
sheets, and FAQs were published to help optometrists
comply with the requirements.
On 14 December, the Board’s revised Guidelines for
advertising a regulated health service came into effect.
Resources were published to help make it easier for the
public, practitioners and other advertisers to advertise
The Board approved its accreditation agreement’s
third year of funding with the Optometry Council of
Australia and New Zealand (OCANZ). The agreement’s
contemporary framework addresses accreditation
issues such as cultural safety, safety and quality, and
reducing regulatory burden, and aims to strengthen
accountability and transparency of accreditation.
Mr Ian Bluntish