Legislation

In addition to operating under national laws listed on the national website, optometrists practising in South Australia on a permanent or temporary basis (e.g. as a locum) must ensure that they (and any practice staff under their supervision) satisfy and operate according to all the South Australian State legislative requirements listed below.

Health Practitioner National Law (South Australia) Act 2010

It is illegal to sell spectacle lenses or contact lenses to a customer unless the purchaser produces a current prescription for those lenses written by an optometrist, medical practitioner or orthoptist

>   Maximum penalty $30,000
>   This includes plano and cosmetic contact lenses
>   This does not include "ready mades" sold by the local pharmacy or supermarket
>   Orthoptists cannot prescribe contact lenses (only spectacle lenses)

It is illegal to dispense an expired prescription

>   Maximum penalty $15,000
>   Contact lenses expire after 18 months (unless a shorter time is specified on the prescription by the prescribing practitioner)
>   Spectacle lenses expire after 3 years (unless a shorter time is specified on the prescription by the prescribing practitioner)

You must give your customer a free copy of their prescription on request

>   Maximum penalty (if you don't) is $5,000
>   For contact lenses, the prescription does not have to be supplied until the prescribing and fitting of the contact lenses has been completed in full
>   This law applies to anyone dispensing optical appliances, not just optometrists
>   The prescription provided must contain all the information required to accurately fabricate the relevant optical appliance
Ready-mades must be displayed and labelled appropriately
maximum penalty $30,000
Each pair of spectacles must have a warning label attached in such a way that it will not fall off during the normal process of trying-on and selecting them for purchase
The warning lable must read:

WARNING
These glasses are for near-vision and reading only.
The lenses in these glasses are NOT prescription lenses. They are not intended as a substitute for glasses specifically prescribed for you.
These glasses are not suitable -
   for use whilst driving or operating a vehicle; or
   for use as eye protection.
Poor vision may be the result of a disease of the eye and a regular examination by an optometrist is recommended to ensure that any eye disease is detected early.

Click here for a full copy of the Act (go to Part 5 on page 45: optometry)

SA Motor Vehicles Act 1959 - amended

If an optometrist has reasonable cause to believe that-

(a) a person whom he or she has examined holds a driver's licence or a learner's permit; and

(b) that person is suffering from a physical or mental illness, disability or deficiency such that, if the person drove a motor vehicle, he or she would be likely to endanger the public, the optometrist is required by law to:

  • inform the Registrar in writing of the name and address of that person, and of the nature of the illness, disability or deficiency from which the person is believed to be suffering.
  • Also notify the person to whom the information relates of the fact and of the nature of the information provided to the Registrar

The optometrist is protected from being sued by the patient in carrying out their duty under the Act.

Click here to find out how to report a patient who is unfit to drive.

SA Children's Protection Act 1993 - amended

HIGHLIGHTS

Child protection laws require that:

  • All optometrists working in SA have a relevant history assessment every three years 
  • All optometry practice staff who have access to patient records and work alone with children (unsupervised and without a guardian/parent present) have a relevant history assessment every three years 
  • A staff member's 'relevant history assessment' should be completed by the practice manager, managing optometrist or practice owner ( the person in authority), with reference to either the staff member's Criminal History Report (from SAPOL or other Crimtrak registered agency) or a Child Related Employment Screening Certificate from the SA Government Authorised Screening Unit.
  • the practice manager, managing optometrist or practice owner ( the person in authority) should assess any information provided by these agencies in accordance with Child Safe Environment:standards for dealing with information obtained about a person's criminal history as part of a relevant hisory assessment. 
  • Optometrists report any suspicion (on reasonable grounds) that a child has been, or is at risk of being, abused or neglected to the Child Abuse Report line on 13 14 78 (i.e. they are mandated reporters)
  • Mandated reporters of suspected child abuse have added legal protection against threat or intimidation from anyone trying to prevent the mandatory report.
  • Optometry practices lodge a child safe environment compliance statement with the Department for Education & Child Development (DECD)
  • All optometry practices have child safe policies and procedures in place
  • Optometrists play their part in the maintenance of a child safe and child friendly environment in the practices where they work
  • Children and young people are able to complain directly to the Commissioner about any alleged abuse from their optometrist.

NEW (from April 2015):

  • A person who is a person of authority in that practice (e.g. practice manager, managing optometrist), sole trader (practice owner) or partner (optometry practice co-owner) for any organisation providing optometry services to children (in any way), is now prohibited from performing optometry or pre-testing (i.e. a prescribed function) unless they hold a current relevant history assessment (see above)
  • Any parent, guardian or care-giver of a child receiving optometric care from that person (who is the person of authority in that practice) can now request in writing to see acopy of their child related employment screening certificate or criminal history report.
  • Optometry practices should also be prepared to answer questions asked by parents and care-givers about their child safe policies, including confirmation that relevant history assessments are conducted on other staff involved in the practice.

RESOURCES:

What's new in more details - click here

How to get a SAPOL Criminal History Report / Police Check - click here

How to obtain a Child Related Employment Screening Certificate from the SA Government Authorised Screening Unit - click here

How to conduct a "relevant history assessment" on your optometrist or other staff member - click here

Where to read more about this child safe legislation and more resources on the DECD website - click here

How to recognise suspected child abuse and neglect - click here

How to report uspected child abuse or neglect - click here

Who else, other than my optometrist, needs a relevant history assessment? (more about prescribed positions) - click here & refer to page 11

Practice child-safe templates updated to reflect these recent changes (just insert your practice name):

Child safe policy

Staff recruitment policy

Reporting suspected child abuse policy

Child safe environment checklist

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