Optometry Board of Australia - 2020/21 annual summary
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2020/21 annual summary


  • 6,288 optometrists
    • Up 4.1% from 2019/20
    • 0.8% of all registered health practitioners
  • 0.1% identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • 56.9% female; 43.1% male


Age: <25 = 5.4%, 25 to 34 = 33.7%, 35 to 44 = 21.9%, 45 to 54 = 18.9%, 55 to 64 = 14.9%, 65 to 74 = 4.8%, >75 = 0.4%



  • 38 notifications lodged with Ahpra
    • 44 registered optometrists Australia-wide, including HPCA and OHO data, had notifications made about them
    • 0.7% of the profession

Sources of notifications

Sources of notifications: Patient, relative or member of the public 55.3%, HCE 13.2%, Other practitioner 7.9%, Employer 7.9%, Other 15.8%

  • 1 immediate action taken

  • 6 mandatory notifications received
    • 2 about professional standards

Most common types of complaints

Most common types of complaints: Clinical care 52.6%, Communication 10.5%, Boundary violation 5.3%, Medication 2.6%, Health impairment 2.6%, Documentation 2.6%, Other 23.7%

Notifications closed

Notifications closed: 50 notifications closed, 6.0% conditions imposed on registration or an undertaking accepted, 6.0% received a caution or reprimand, 2.0% registration cancelled, 12.0% referred to another body or retained by a health complaints entity, 74.0% no further action


  • 12 practitioners monitored for health, performance and/or conduct during the year
  • 13 cases being monitored at 30 June:
    • 2 for conduct
    • 4 for performance
    • 1 for prohibited practitioner/student
    • 6 for suitability/eligibility for registration

Criminal offence complaints

  • 3 criminal offence complaints made
    • 2 about title protection
    • 1 about advertising breaches
  • 5 were closed

Referred to an adjudication body

  • 1 matter decided by a tribunal
  • No matters decided by a panel
  • 2 appeals

A report from the Chair

Issues this year

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.

Regulatory response to COVID-19

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 COVID-19.

Stakeholder engagement

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.

Revised CPD standard

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.

Revised advertising guidelines

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 responsibly.


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

Page reviewed 22/11/2022