Optometry Board of Australia - 2018/19 annual summary
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2018/19 annual summary

Optometry in 2018/19

Snapshot of the profession

  • 5,781 optometrists
  • Up 4.5% from 2017/18
  • 0.8% of all registered health practitioners
  • 0.1% identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • 55.1% female; 44.9% male


Under 25 years old: 3.8%, 25-34 years old: 32.2%, 35-44 years old: 22.5%, 45-54 years old: 20.6%, 55-64 years old: 16.1%, 65-74 years old: 4.2%, Over 75 years old: 0.5%

Audit outcomes

Audit outcomes pie chart 

  • 77.4% compliant: fully compliant with the registration standards
  • 18.8% compliant (education): compliant through education in one or more standards
  • 0.6% non-compliant: non-compliant with one or more standards
  • 3.2% no audit action required: during the audit period, practitioners changed their registration type to non-practising, elected to surrender their registration or failed to renew their registration

Regulating the profession

  • 41 notifications lodged with AHPRA1
  • Australia-wide, including Health Professional Councils Authority (HPCA) in NSW and Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) in Queensland data, 66 registered optometrists – or 1.1% – had notifications made about them
  • 41 notifications closed
    • 17.1% had conditions imposed on registration or an undertaking accepted
    • 2.4% received a caution or reprimand
    • 24.4% referred to another body or retained by a health complaints entity (HCE)
    • 56.1% no further action taken
  • No immediate action was taken
  • 1 mandatory notification made
    • about professional standards
  • 15 optometrists monitored for health, performance and/or conduct during the year
  • 14 cases were being monitored at 30 June
    • 2 on grounds of conduct
    • 2 for performance
    • 2 prohibited practitioner/student
    • 8 for suitability/eligibility for registration
  • 3 criminal offence complaints were made and 4 closed
    • 1 new matter related to title protection
    • 2 to advertising breaches
  • Matters decided by a tribunal: 0
  • Matters decided by a panel: 0
  • Decisions appealed: 0

1Unless stated otherwise, all notification data is AHPRA data.

Sources of notifications: 58.5% Patient, relative or member of the public, 4.4% HCE, 12.2% Board’s own motion, 2.4% Anonymous, 2.4% Self

Most common types of complaint: 68.3% Clinical care, 9.8% Billing, 7.3% Breach of non-offence provision – National Law, 2.4% Health impairment, 2.4% Confidentiality, 9.8% Other

A report on the year from the Chair

New standards

The Optometry Board of Australia's revised Endorsement for scheduled medicines registration standard (registration standard) and Guidelines for use of scheduled medicines (the guidelines) came into effect from 10 September 2018.

The registration standard sets out the requirements that an optometrist must meet to be granted an endorsement. The related guidelines outline the Board’s expectations about the use of scheduled medicines by endorsed and non-endorsed optometrists. The guidelines apply to optometrists with general registration who use scheduled medicines for diagnostic purposes and to optometrists whose registration is endorsed for scheduled medicines, who use scheduled medicines for the purposes of the practice of optometry.

Appendix B of the guidelines shows the revised Board-approved list of topical scheduled medicines that endorsed optometrists are qualified to prescribe for the purposes of the practice of optometry.

Policy updates

On 30 June 2019, the Ministerial Council approved the Board’s revised Continuing professional development (CPD) registration standard that will come into effect on 1 December 2020 to give optometrists time to familiarise themselves with a system that moves from a CPD points system to one based on hours.

The standards were revised after a joint scheduled review, which included stakeholder and public consultation. The revised standard will apply to applicants for renewal from 1 December 2020.

The Board has published an updated fact sheet to provide greater clarity for applicants seeking limited registration for postgraduate training and/or supervised practice. To practise as an optometrist in Australia, all practitioners need to apply for and be registered with the Board. This registration standard applies to overseas-trained optometrists and other eligible optometrists applying for limited registration for postgraduate training or supervised practice, or renewal of limited registration for postgraduate training or supervised practice.


The Board convened the annual meeting of the Optometry Regulatory Reference Group (ORRG) in October 2018. The group is a discussion forum for matters about the registration of optometrists and the accreditation of optometry programs under the National Scheme. ORRG also helps foster communication and understanding of the different regulatory and accreditation issues in Australia and New Zealand. ORRG members discussed cultural safety in the health system.

In June, the Chair attended the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry’s (ARBO) Annual Meeting in St Louis, Missouri, USA, to provide an overview of Board activities and exchanged ideas with other optometry regulators on common issues.

The Board welcomed the Chair and the Registrar of the Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board New Zealand (ODOB NZ) at its February meeting.

The Board sent a member representative to a conference held in March 2019 in Alice Springs co-hosted by Indigenous Eye Health at the University of Melbourne and Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory, supported by partners Vision 2020 Australia, Optometry Australia and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists. The Board noted eye health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples needed further improvement and in the context of cultural safety.

The Board consulted with a range of key internal and external stakeholders, including the Scheduled Medicines Expert Advisory Committee, on a draft targeted consultation paper on proposed revisions to its list of topical medicines in Appendix B of its Endorsement for scheduled medicines registration standard and guidelines.


A new accreditation funding agreement for a five-year term has been signed by AHPRA, on behalf of the Board, with the Optometry Council of Australia and New Zealand. The agreement sets out the accreditation functions to be delivered for programs of study, associated funding, fee setting and new key performance indicator arrangements within a contemporary framework. The framework addresses accreditation issues such as cultural safety, safety and quality, and reducing regulatory burden and aims to strengthen accountability and transparency of accreditation in the National Scheme.

On the Board’s recommendation, AHPRA, as the contracting entity, entered into a one-year contract extension with Optometry Australia for the provision of CPD accreditation services until 30 November 2019. The Board will review these arrangements before the new expiry date.


The Board and members of its committees participated in the biennial National Scheme’s combined meeting in February which brought together all National Boards, accreditation authorities and other partners to share information and discuss initiatives, challenges and opportunities nearly a decade after its establishment.

Mr Ian Bluntish, Chair

Page reviewed 12/11/2020