Optometry Australia Advocacy
A key part of Optometry Australia’s role is ensuring representation of optometrists and the optometry profession to Government and other bodies. Optometry Australia's advocacy efforts are directed toward ensuring:
- a sustainable primary eye care system
- the ongoing development of optometry as a fulfilling and rewarding profession
- contexts that support safe, quality care
- timely access to primary eye health and vision care for all patients, regardless of where they live.
The organisation's advocacy work takes many forms and can include representations to Government Ministers and senior personnel, participation in Government advisory forums, submissions to inquiries and consultations, development of position statements on key issues and co-ordination of member advocacy campaigns. Our Policy team work to be responsive to member's needs, and undertake regular surveys of members ensure the organisation understands priority issues and concerns. Optometry Australia also convenes expert advisory groups to focus on key issues, including:
Importantly, Optometry Australia recognises the strength of partnership approaches to advocacy and is an active member of a number of alliances through which shared policy priorities are advocated. These include:
Optometry in the 2018-19 Federal Budget
In December 2017, Optometry Australia provided the Australian Government with our 2018-19 Federal Budget submission, Eye care for every Australian, which reflects our current position statements. The submission called for:
- An end to the freeze on Medicare rebates for optometry, and reinstatement of annual indexation of the MBS from 1 July 2018
- Reinstatement of biennial Medicare rebates for a comprehensive initial examination for Australians aged between 40 and 64 years
- An 115% increase to the current rebates for all optometry services for veterans.
While the outcome of the 2018-19 Federal Budget was rather bland for optometry overall, there were some positive announcements for the small businesses, the rural health workforce, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander eye health, and with regard to modernising payment systems and supporting innovative health care. Optometry Australia’s National Chief Executive Officer, Lyn Brodie, has provided an overview in her opinion piece, Our reaction to a bland Federal Budget.
Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Advisory Group
In 2015, the Australian Government announced a comprehensive review of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). The aim is to consider how the more than 5,700 items on the MBS can be aligned with contemporary clinical evidence and practice and improve health outcomes for patients.
To prepare for the upcoming review of the MBS Optometrical Benefits Schedule, Optometry Australia has convened an MBS Review Advisory Group to support the development of Optometry Australia’s recommendations of how the MBS should be amended to best meet the eye health needs of the population. The Advisory Group met for the first time in May 2018, and further information will be shared with members as it is available.
For further information about Optometry Australia’s current advocacy priorities, please feel free to contact the Policy Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.