Optometry Board of Australia - July 2024
Look up a health practitioner

Close

Check if your health practitioner is qualified, registered and their current registration status

July 2024

Issue 24 - July 2024


From the Chair

Image of Stuart AamodtThis is the first newsletter from the Board for 2024, and my first as the Board’s Chair. I’d like to warmly welcome Terence Wong who was appointed as practitioner member from New South Wales in March 2024. We also welcomed four new appointments to the Board’s committees in 2023 and we asked Sara Carrison, a new member of the Board’s Policy and Education Committee, what inspired her to join the committee. Read more below.

I’m pleased that the Board has started a cultural safety series to share the work of the Board and the National Scheme in elevating and amplifying the voices of First Nations Peoples.

Finally, a reminder to optometrists that the registration year is well progressed and that there is less than half the year left on the continuing professional development (CPD) calendar. I encourage you to regularly review your annual CPD plan, identify CPD that meets your learning goals and take time to reflect on what you’ve learned.

Stuart Aamodt
Chair, Optometry Board of Australia


Meet your Board and committee members

Stuart Aamodt – Board Chair and practitioner member from Western Australia

I work in an independent optometry practice in metropolitan Perth and on the optometry program at the University of Western Australia. Before this, I worked for Lions Outback Vision in Yawuru country, a not-for-profit optometry clinic providing outreach and optometric services for the local communities in and around the Kimberley.

When did you first start on the Optometry Board of Australia?

I was first appointed to the Board in October 2018, as the practitioner member for WA. I was the Chair of the Board’s Registration and Notifications Committee from 2021 for nearly three years. I spent most of last year as the Board’s Presiding Member and was appointed by health ministers as Board Chair in March this year.

What do you feel is your goal as Board Chair?

To help steer the Board through a challenging but exciting time in regulation for both the profession and the broader National Scheme, so we can ensure that public safety is maintained.

What advice would you give to anyone starting on the Optometry Board or a Board committee?

For those that are interested and able to commit the time, Board and committee roles are very rewarding. They are an opportunity to shape the regulation of optometry so that the public continues to trust the profession and hold it in high regard. Roles represent a different perspective on engagement with the profession and community and make a refreshing break from the day-to-day routine of a traditional optometry role.

Sara Carrison – Practitioner member of the Policy and Education Committee

Image of Sara CarrisonWhat inspired you to become a practitioner member of the Policy and Education Committee (PEC)?

I find my personal views align seamlessly with the purpose of the National Scheme, and particularly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020-2025. I believe that every person has a right to be able to access eye care where they feel comfortable and safe, particularly those in minority and/or vulnerable communities.

Recognising the vital role the PEC plays in the optometry landscape, I saw becoming a member as a chance to share my insights and experiences, helping to create a future where optometrists are better equipped to provide culturally safe care.

Tell us a little about yourself – where did you study? Where do you practise?

I am a Ngarrindjeri woman but was born and grew up in Galinyala/Port Lincoln, SA. I wanted to be an optometrist at a young age, thanks to a family friend who worked as a locum optometrist, whom I saw as a role model growing up.

I was fortunate to be able to follow my dream, completing my optometry studies at Flinders University in 2018. I spent my first couple of years as an optometrist working for OPSM in Adelaide, Port Lincoln and Whyalla.

Now my primary place of practice is OPSM Glenelg in Tarntanya/Adelaide. I also do outreach clinics around South Australia and more recently in the Northern Territory. I currently participate in two leadership groups – both are dedicated to increasing representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in optometry through different projects.

What are you hoping to achieve in this position?

My overarching goal is to contribute to initiatives that promote cultural safety in optometry, improving eye health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

I also hope to share my journey in the PEC with others, to inspire future First Nations optometrists to be involved in this work.

Board and member positions are advertised on the Statutory Appointments webpage. For further information, or to receive notice of advertised vacancies, contact Statutory Appointments.


Cultural safety series

Martin RobinsonI’m Martin Robinson, practitioner member from Tasmania. I’m also the primary sponsor for the Board’s Culturally Safe Eye Care Initiative and a member of the Culturally Safe Notifications Working Group. For our Cultural safety series over the next few newsletters, I’d like to share some of the work of the Board and the National Scheme that supports the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy.

What is the National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy?

The Board and the National Scheme have an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy and a vision, which is that patient safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is the norm. We recognise that patient safety includes the inextricably linked elements of clinical and cultural safety, and that this link must be defined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

Read more about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy.

Partnership with Weenthunga Health Network guiding critical reform work to eliminate racism in healthcare

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have the right to access and work in healthcare that is culturally safe and free from racism. Ahpra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Unit is supporting the Cultural Safety Accreditation and Continuing Professional Development Working Group and Weenthunga Health Network, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consultancy, to co-design and develop nationally consistent standards, codes and guidelines on cultural safety for registered practitioners.

The Cultural Safety Accreditation and Continuing Professional Development Framework and Strategy is a multi-year project, grounded by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of being, knowing and doing. By embedding cultural safety in accreditation and continuing professional development requirements for all 16 regulated health professions in the National Scheme, we will ensure consistency and accountability to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and health workers.

Cultural safety is patient safety. Racist and culturally unsafe practice and behaviour towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples will not be tolerated, as seen in the landmark ruling of a doctor banned for discriminatory and offensive behaviour.

Read more in the media release.

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference 2024

Board Chair Stuart Aamodt was lucky enough to attend the 2024 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference in nipaluna (Hobart) in May. This was jointly hosted by the First Nations Eye Health Alliance and the Indigenous Eye Health Unit (Melbourne University). Here is his overview.

Image of Martin and Lynda Pham at eye health conference

The theme for the conference was Our Vision in Action and the presentations showcased great examples of the work being done by both individuals and organisations in the eye care industry. Respecting the principles of self-determination, supporting, elevating and amplifying First Nations voices, understanding the unique challenges for First Nations people, flexibility and working in partnership were common themes in these success stories. 

Attending the conference was a very positive experience, with the First Nations eye care mob leading the way in inspiring us all to do better. The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Conference will be held on Wadjuk Noongar country (Perth) next year and I highly recommend this conference to all optometrists and optometry students.

Image of Stuart with conference mascot, a gecko

Image of Stuart and Martin at eye health conference

 

I’d like to congratulate all the award winners, in particular Sara Carrison for the Emerging Leadership in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Eye Health Award.

Images: Stuart Aamodt, Chair, and Lynda Pham, Executive Officer of the Optometry Board. Martin Robinson and Stuart. Stuart and Gecko the conference mascot. 


Practice advice

Continuing professional development reminder

Continuing professional development (CPD) is an interactive process to maintain, enhance and extend the practitioner’s knowledge, expertise and competence throughout their career. CPD is an important component in the continued provision of safe and effective services.

We encourage you to regularly review your annual CPD plan, identify CPD that meets your learning goals and take time to reflect on what you have learned.

Resources to help you are on the Board’s website under Registration standards.


Consultation

Review of the Criminal history registration standard

The Board and Ahpra invite you to have your say on the draft Criminal history registration standard and supporting documents.

In late 2023, as part of our work to improve public safety in health regulation the National Boards and Ahpra consulted widely on a range of reforms, including a series of questions about the current version of the criminal history standard.

After consideration of all feedback, we have developed a draft registration standard and new supporting materials. We want to hear from you on how we have responded to feedback, the draft changes we have made to the Criminal history registration standard, and the other material we have developed to explain how the standard is applied.

The public consultation runs till 5pm (AEST) 30 July 2024. More information is available on the Board’s Consultation page.


Students and graduates

Beware of identity theft – don’t post your registration certificate online

Successfully registering with the Board is one of the final steps for new graduates starting their career in optometry. It’s an exciting step and one to feel immensely proud of. The temptation might be strong to celebrate by sharing your first registration certificate with the world – but think twice before posting.

Identity theft is rife. Every day, websites pop up selling fake Ahpra certificates of registration based on real ones that graduating practitioners have posted on their social media. Never post your identity documents online. You’ve worked hard to earn your registration; don’t let somebody steal it.


Registration news

Latest workforce data released

The Board’s quarterly registration data to 31 March 2024 has been released. At this date, there were 7,041 registered optometrists. Non-practising optometrists made up 238 of that number, plus 28 optometrists with limited registration.

There are 5,196 optometrists with scheduled medicines endorsement, 76.27 per cent of the profession.

There are 13 optometrists who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, or 0.2 per cent of the profession.

For more details, including registration data by principal place of practice, age and gender, visit our Statistics page.


What's new?

Latest National Law changes provide more protections to the public

The recent series of amendments to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law are now complete, with a final suite of changes being introduced from 1 July.

A key update for practitioners is that you can now nominate an alternative name to go on the register, alongside your legal name.

Some health practitioners may practise under an alternative name, such as a traditional name or an anglicised or shortened name.

Having both your legal name and your alternative name appear on the public register will make it easier for the public to search the register and make informed decisions about their care.

You can find out more information about alternative names and how to nominate on the Ahpra website.

Other changes to the National Law from 1 July include:

  • allowing National Boards and Ahpra to issue interim prohibition orders to unregistered persons in certain circumstances where the person poses a serious risk to others
  • establishing the process regarding renewal of a practitioner’s registration after a period of suspension
  • empowering the National Boards to include previously excluded information in the National Register if there is a reasonable belief the circumstances have changed
  • enabling the Ministerial Council to delegate its power to approve registration standards to an appropriate entity.

Board Chair Stuart Aamodt said the completion of the program of amendments to the National Law would improve health regulation and improve public safety nationwide.

‘Australia’s health system, as well as the reasons and ways people access it, has changed dramatically over the 15 years.

‘These reforms allow the regulation scheme to evolve with it, strengthening Ahpra and National Boards’ ability to protect the public and support practitioners.’

More information about the changes, as well as future areas of focus and ways to provide feedback can be found on Ahpra's website.

Myths and misconceptions about notifications – getting the help you need

Too often, practitioners struggle in silence when they are dealing with a health, mental health or drug and alcohol issue – or even just the day-to-day challenges of being a health practitioner.

The best thing you can do – for yourself, for your family, and for your clients – is to seek help early and to actively engage in recommended treatments. This might be from your own GP, another health practitioner or from one of the many independent practitioner support services available.

There is a common misconception that if you seek help, your treating practitioner will automatically be required to report you to Ahpra and your registration may be affected.

The threshold for when treating practitioners need to make a mandatory notification about health is only necessary when the public is at substantial risk of harm. The need for a mandatory notification to be made is not often met.

If you are managing your health and getting the help you need, you can usually continue to practise. The Board wants you to be healthy and safe to practise and encourages you to seek help early when you need support.

New checklist to help practitioners manage complaints

A Checklist for practitioners has been developed to help resolve feedback or complaints made directly to practitioners or the health service where you are working.

We know that receiving negative feedback or a complaint can be confronting and stressful and as well as this resource we have published a list of general support services.

You might find this checklist helpful when a complaint is first raised with you by a patient or client, and it may also be relevant to those who have a role in establishing and maintaining complaints systems and processes at a health service.

When feedback or complaints are managed well, they can result in improvements that increase patient, client, and community confidence in you as a practitioner. It can also help prevent a concern escalating to an external complaint body or regulator.

The checklist was developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, Ahpra and the 15 National Boards as part of a joint project with the Commission, with work also underway on resources to help consumers navigate the various complaints options available.

The checklist, along with other resources covering a range of topics to support your practice, is available on Ahpra’s Resources page.

Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Statement of Intent

The Ahpra Accreditation Committee has published its Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Statement of Intent. The statement of intent aims to embed interprofessional collaborative practice across the continuum of healthcare settings.

The statement is a fundamental step towards achieving effective team-based and coordinated care across Australia. It is a commitment to improving the outcomes for patients and consumers by reducing the risk of fragmented and uncoordinated care.

Interprofessional collaborative practice is healthcare practice where multiple health workers from different professional backgrounds work together and with clients, families, carers and communities to deliver the highest quality of care that is free of racism and other forms of discrimination.

The statement represents a joint commitment from 53 stakeholders across the health and education sectors to take action.

Read more in the news item.


Keep in touch with the Board

  • Visit the Board website for registration standards, codes, guidelines and FAQs.
  • Lodge an online enquiry form.
  • For registration enquiries, call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9125 3010 (for overseas callers).
  • Address mail correspondence to: Stuart Aamodt, Chair, Optometry Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

 
 
Page reviewed 3/07/2024