A new national registration and accreditation system for optometry will commence in July 2010 with the creation of the Optometry Board of Australia (OBA). This will abolish the need for State registration.
In March last year one of the initiatives discussed at the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) meeting was an agreement to introduce a national registration and accreditation system for health professionals to improve Australia’s health system. At the time the National President of the OAA, Andrew Harris, said the OAA was supportive of the initiative but said: “We need to understand fully the way the national board is structured, who is going to sit on it and how the government influences that board.”
In June this year the Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council addressed this issue by announcing: “the standards for accreditation and registration under the new national registration scheme will be independent of governments.”
Following is a summary of the national registration and accreditation system:
Independent accreditation and functions: Standards will be developed by the independent accreditation body. They will recommend to the OBA; who will decide whether standards, courses or training programs are approved for the purposes of registration
Continuing professional development: To renew registration, registrants must participate in an OBA-approved continuing professional development program.
Checks: Mandatory criminal history/ identity checks
Students to be registered: Education institutions will provide the OBA with optometry student lists.
Complaint handling: Either national or State/ territory laws will be adopted for investigations and prosecution. Definitions of offences, contraventions and outcomes will be under a single national framework.
National board appointments: The OBA will be appointed by the Ministerial Council with vacancies to be advertised.
Regulation of cosmetic lenses: Prescribing will be restricted to optometrists and medical practitioners.
Privacy protection: for practitioners/consumers.