May 2018

Issue 14 - May 2018

Chair’s message

Ian BluntishWelcome to the May 2018 newsletter of the Optometry Board of Australia (the Board). You’ll notice a new look to our newsletter and we hope the new format is easier to read during your busy day.

We’ll continue to keep you up to date with changes to standards and guidelines, public consultations, regulation and registration matters, Board projects and events.

In this issue, we have published the latest registration data as well as updates from the 2016/17 annual report. Our next practitioner audit is about to begin – data from the past two years shows high compliance with Board standards and guidelines.

Along with coverage of our recent Board events, there is an invitation to the Early Career Optometrists South Australia networking event: Meet the Board. Find out more below.

We feature an interview with Board member Associate Professor Daryl Guest, who offers insights into his role and the process of becoming a Board member. We welcome your interest in a Board or committee role.

There was a call for applications for appointments to the Board in early 2018 and new Board members are expected to be announced in late 2018. All Board appointments are made by the Ministerial Council for up to three years. Regulation is such an important part of Australia’s health sector, what we do and how we do it is vital in ensuring the protection of the public.

As always, I encourage you to continue to keep in touch with the Board’s work by regularly viewing our website, through our consultations and your feedback on our newsletters.

Ian Bluntish
Chair, Optometry Board of Australia

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Board news

Practitioner audit will soon begin

All registered optometrists are required to comply with the Board’s registration standards and declare whether they were compliant when renewing their registration. We conduct regular audits to assess registrants’ compliance with the standards in order to provide assurance to the public and practitioners that the requirements of the National Law1 are understood and that practitioners are compliant.

The Board’s fifth practitioner audit will soon begin.

As a registered optometrist you may be selected at random for audit. If you are selected for audit, you will receive an audit notice in the mail from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). It includes a checklist that outlines what supporting documentation is required to demonstrate that you meet the standard(s) being audited.

If you have been selected, please access the Board’s website, which provides comprehensive information about the audit process including guidance on the audit notice and what it means for you, as well as contact details for the audit team and AHPRA customer service team who can assist you with any queries.

Audit results for 2016 and 2017

The majority of the audits initiated in 2016 and 2017 are now complete. This update of the outcomes complements the initial progress cited in the Optometry Board of Australia Annual report summary 2016/2017.

For all audits completed to date, in 2016 and 2017(combined), 77% of optometrists audited were found to be in full compliance with the registration standards. Of the remainder:

  • 17 % were found to be compliant through education in one or more standards
  • 2.5% required consideration and decision by the Board or other relevant body*, and
  • 3.5% were closed with no action, as practitioners changed registration type to non-practising or surrendered their registration after being advised that they were subject to audit.

A number of practitioners in the audit were found to be non-compliant because they did not have current cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training in the previous three registration periods as required by the Board’s continuing professional development (CPD) registration standard. An educative approach was taken with these practitioners, who subsequently updated their CPR requirements.

Where appropriate, the Board has adopted an educational approach to conducting audits, seeking to balance the protection of the public with the use of appropriate regulatory force to manage those practitioners found to be non-compliant with the audited standards.

*Optometry Council of NSW for optometrists practising in NSW, and the Office of the Health Ombudsman, Queensland for optometrists practising in Queensland.


1The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory.

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Annual report 2016/17: a snapshot of the profession

The 2016/17 annual report provides a nationwide snapshot of the work of AHPRA and the National Boards and highlights a multi-profession approach to risk-based regulation, with a clear focus on ensuring that the public are protected.

To view the 2016/17 annual report, along with supplementary tables that segment data across categories such as registration, notifications, statutory offences, tribunals and appeals, and monitoring and compliance, see the Annual Report microsite or download the annual report and National Board summaries on the AHPRA website. State and territory summaries are also available.

This year saw the largest online registration renewal rate ever achieved across all 14 registered health professions. Over 98.5% of all registered health practitioners renewed online and on time, with 98.8% of optometrists renewing online. According to a workforce survey that practitioners can choose to fill out at the time of registration/renewal, 0.3% of optometrists are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (13 practitioners nationally).

A snapshot of the profession in 2016/17:

Optometry Annual Report Infographic

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Latest Optometry Board of Australia registrant data show growth in the profession

The Board has analysed its registration data and produced a number of statistical breakdowns about registrants to share with the profession and community. The Board shares the latest breakdowns regularly.

There are 5,521 registered optometrists, an increase of 34 since the last quarterly data report in December 2017. Of the total, 5,344 hold general registration, five have limited registration and 172 are non-practising.

A total of 3,044, or 57% of general registrants, hold an endorsement for scheduled medicines.

You can find more information on the Statistics page of the Board’s website.

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Get to know your Board member

Optometry Board member - Daryl GuestAssociate Professor Daryl Guest
BSc(Optom), PostGradCertOccTh, GCUT, MSc

Since graduating from the University of Melbourne in 1977, Daryl has worked in a range of primary care and clinical teaching environments. In his early career he worked at the then Victorian College of Optometry for ten years, the last three years as Deputy Clinic Director. From 1995 Daryl practised in the north-west coast of Tasmania from his home town of Penguin, being a practice owner for most of that time. Since 2012 he has been with the University of Melbourne as a clinical academic, his main role is as Clinic Director of UMeyecare. Daryl still occasionally consults in the North West Coast.

Daryl’s previous board commitments have included as a councillor of the Victorian (now Australian) College of Optometry, a board member of the North West Division of General Practice, and on the board of Tasmanian Medicare Local and Primary Health Tasmania from 2005 until 2015. In 2007 he became the first non-GP Division Chair within the Australian General Practice Network and was Chair of the Optometry Council of Australia and New Zealand Board (OCANZ) from 2007 to 2014. Daryl was on the Tasmanian Optometrist Registration Board from 2001 to 2008 with two stints as Chair and for eight years from 1998 he was a councillor for the Tasmanian Division of Optometry Australia.

What do you do in your role with the Optometry Board of Australia?

I chair the Policy and Education Committee. This aligns well with my role at the University of Melbourne. We are currently reviewing the continuing professional development registration standard and related guidelines with an option to move to a portfolio-based assessment to complement a lifelong learning model. Analysing the literature, helping to develop a cross-profession policy and evaluating a broad spectrum of arguments has been extremely engaging. I also sit on the Scheduled Medicine Advisory Committee. This committee is looking at rationalising the approach to listing medicines that endorsed optometrists are qualified to prescribe. Evaluating the public need and risk as a Board member is a different prism to look at, compared to my day job of consulting. What I would like and what is in the best interests of the scheme is not always the same. 

Why did you want to become a Board member?

I found my time on the Optometry Registration Board in Tasmania to be rewarding. It is hard to put a finger on why in some ways. This is an opportunity to look at a profession that has been very kind to me from a different perspective. It is not about advocacy, it is about the public and the safest care of their ocular needs. Any change has to go through multiple filters, if the change is worthwhile you know that it will happen in time and that it will be tested against multiple principles. This considered and reflective approach is challenging in a positive way.

What was the process of becoming a Board member like?

I applied when a vacancy became available. Completing the application in part reinforced that this was something that I wanted to do. The application process is straightforward.

What would you recommend to other optometrists interested in becoming a practitioner Board member?

Talk to the practitioner and community members of the Optometry Board. There are other roles apart from being a Board member that could give you a taste of what it is like.

More information about other Board members is available on the Board’s website.

Interested? Find out more

There was a call for applications for appointments to the Board in early 2018. All Board appointments are made by the Ministerial Council for up to three years, under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory. More information about the roles, eligibility requirements and the application process can be found on the Board’s website.

If you would like to receive notice of Board member vacancies when they are advertised, please contact statutoryappointments@ahpra.gov.au from your preferred email address.

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Invitation to the Early Career Optometrists SA networking event: Meet the Board

Early career optometrists, final year university students and other interested Optometry South Australia members are invited to attend the Early Career Optometrists South Australia networking event: Meet the Board on Wednesday 25 July 2018.

The Board is co-hosting the networking event with Early Career Optometrists SA to engage more directly with optometrists who are in the early stages of their career and have graduated within the last ten years.

As the future of the optometry profession, the Board views early career optometrists as an important stakeholder in Australian optometry regulation.

The event offers attendees the opportunity to:

  • meet the Board, including community Board members
  • learn the difference between the role of the Board and the role of Optometry Australia (OA)
  • learn about the future of optometry regulation in Australia and what OA and optometrists can do
  • ask the Board questions, and
  • learn how to become a Board or committee member.

More information is available on the Board’s website.

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Board presentation and exhibit at the SA Blue Sky Congress

Optometry Blue Sky Congress Exhibit 1
Board members Assoc. Prof. Rosemary Knight and Ms Jane Duffy OAM staffing the exhibit at SA Blue Sky Congress 2017

Board Chair Ian Bluntish gave a short presentation at the South Australia Blue Sky Conference on 11 November 2017. The presentation provided a snapshot of the profession, an update on the Board’s current work and upcoming opportunities for becoming a Board member.

The Chair and a number of representatives of the Board also staffed an exhibition space on 10-11 November 2017, giving delegates the opportunity to meet Board members and to ask questions about the Board’s work.

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Board celebrates its 90th meeting

The Board celebrated its 90th meeting on 22 February 2018 at the AHPRA National Office in Melbourne.

Optometry Board - 90th meeting
Board members from L to R (front): Anne-Louise Webber, Derek Fails, Gary Fitzpatrick, Jane Duffy, Ian Bluntish (Chair); (rear) Anthony Evans, Daryl Guest, Rosemary Knight, Adrienne Farago

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Public consultation on draft revised registration standard for continuing professional development

The Board has published a consultation paper on the draft revised continuing professional development (CPD) registration standard (and related guidelines). A template CPD portfolio is also included.

The Board’s CPD registration standard sets out the Board’s minimum requirements for continuing professional development for optometrists.

Public consultation began on 13 April 2018 and closed on 4 May 2018.

The consultation paper is available under Past Consultations on the Board’s website.

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National Scheme News

Public consultation on review of accreditation arrangements

National Boards and AHPRA are consulting on future accreditation arrangements from mid-2019, when the current term of assignment of accreditation functions ends.

Public consultation has started and will close at 12pm on Monday 14 May 2018.

The National Law sets out the accreditation functions in the National Scheme; these include developing accreditation standards, accrediting programs of study against approved accreditation standards and assessing overseas qualified practitioners.

The consultation paper is available under Consultations, and AHPRA and the National Boards invite feedback from practitioners, stakeholders and the community.

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Consultation paper on the draft guideline for informing a National Board about where you practise

The Board has published a consultation paper on the draft guideline for informing a National Board about where you practise.

Public consultation has started and will close on 25 May 2018.

In September 2017, the Queensland Parliament passed the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017. The Bill contained a set of amendments to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (the National Law), as in force in each state and territory except Western Australia. Corresponding legislation has also been passed in Western Australia. These amendments include changes to the information a registered health practitioner is required to provide about their practice arrangements when requested by the National Board (referred to as ‘practice information’).

The draft guideline has been developed to help optometrists and other health practitioners to provide practice information in a way that meets their obligations under the National Law.

The consultation paper is available under Current consultations, and the Board invites feedback from practitioners, stakeholders and the community.

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Self-assessment tool launched to help practitioners and advertisers

AHPRA and National Boards have launched a self-assessment tool to help health practitioners, including optometrists, and other advertisers check and correct their advertising.

The tool is easy to use and asks users to consider a number of questions about their advertising which can help them understand if it is in breach of the Guidelines for advertising regulated health services, and in turn the National Law.
The self-assessment tool is the latest of a series of advertising resources for practitioners, healthcare providers and other advertisers of regulated health services to use to help them stay in line with the law.

The self-assessment tool is now available to use on the check, correct and comply section of the AHPRA website.

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National regulation of paramedicine moves a step closer

The national regulation of paramedicine moves a step closer with the appointment of the first Paramedicine Board of Australia.

Registration of paramedicine is due to start from late 2018. Paramedics will be able to register once and practise anywhere in Australia. The title ‘paramedic’ will also become a ‘protected title’ – only people registered with the Board will be able to call themselves a paramedic.

More information, including news about the implementation of the regulation of paramedics and the newly appointed Board members, is available on the Paramedicine Board of Australia’s website.

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New research framework launched to improve patient safety

In January, National Boards and AHPRA published a research framework to help transform health practitioner regulation to improve patient safety.

A research framework for the National Scheme: Optimising our investment in research sets out the research priorities and principles for National Boards and AHPRA to focus their research efforts.

The framework includes the priority research areas of: defining harms and risks related to the practice of regulated health professions, regulatory taxonomy or classification scheme, risk factors for complaints and/or poor practitioner performance, evidence for standards, codes and/or guidelines, evaluating regulatory interventions, stakeholder satisfaction and engagement, work readiness and workforce capacity and distribution.

It has been published to provide a solid base to facilitate risk-based research and evaluation activities, with a clear focus on translating the outcomes of research into initiatives that will inform regulatory policy development and decision-making to maximise the public benefit.

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Research finds truly vexatious complaints are very rare

New independent research commissioned by AHPRA has looked internationally at vexatious complaints, finding these are very rare and that there is more risk from people not reporting concerns than from making complaints in bad faith.

The report found that the number of vexatious complaints dealt with in Australia and internationally is very small, less than one per cent, but they have a big effect on everyone involved. The research also confirms that the risk of someone not reporting their concerns is greater than if the complaint turns out to be vexatious.

Most of Australia’s 680,000 registered health practitioners provide great care, but patients also have the right to make a complaint when things don’t go so well.

The best available evidence suggests that truly vexatious complaints are very rare, and that under-reporting of well-founded concerns is likely a far greater problem.

There is a common misconception that a complaint must have been vexatious if it resulted in no regulatory action. However, a decision by a National Board not to take regulatory action does not mean that the complaint was unfounded or made in bad faith. For example, a risk to the public may have been adequately addressed between the time the complaint was made and when the investigation concluded.

The report will be used to inform best practice for reducing, identifying, and managing vexatious complaints and helps to identify opportunities to work with others to help reduce their frequency and adverse consequences.

The report is available on the AHPRA website under Published research.

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Follow AHPRA on social media

Connect with AHPRA on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to receive information about important topics for your profession and participate in the discussion.

Facebook logo  Twitter logo  LinkedIn logo  Youtube logo

Keep in touch with the Board

  • Visit the Board website for registration standards, codes, guidelines and FAQ.
  • Lodge an online enquiry form.
  • For registration enquiries, call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9275 9009 (for overseas callers).
  • Address mail correspondence to: Ian Bluntish, Chair, Optometry Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

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Page reviewed 17/12/2018