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Optometry Australia has rolled out a suite of videos to help members in situations where they may experience discrimination and/or harassment. 

Last year, we took up the challenge set by International Women’s Day to #BreakTheBias in optometry workplaces and invited six optometrists to share their experiences with gender bias. We then conducted a survey which attracted responses from 320 members.

Survey response

The survey responses revealed that many members have been subject to sexist and crude remarks, jokes and gestures, verbal abuse and sometimes physical abuse.

It also suggested that patients and the families of patients were the cause of significant aggressive behaviour in optometry practices although disappointingly, 28% of members who responded to our survey cited practice owners and managers as key contributors.

Some members also feel uncomfortable when they have to spend time in a darkened consulting room with patients of another gender although thankfully, their workplace ensures that they are not alone in the practice and they can call for assistance if needed.

New videos to help support members 

In response, we’ve made a commitment to create a culture of Respect. Always! within optometry, and have developed a suite of videos to help support members in situations where they may experience discrimination and/or harassment in the workplace.

The videos address what optometrists can do if they experience or observe discrimination happening either from a patient or within their workplace. They also explore what health professionals’ obligations are in these situations and what resources Optometry Australia has to help.

In the following videos, Optometry Advisors Sophie Koh, Lyn Hsieh and Ben Hamlyn address these questions:

  1. What can I do if I experience discrimination and/or harassment from a patient?
  2. Do I have an obligation to see a patient if I feel they are displaying discriminatory and/or aggressive behaviour towards me?
  3. What can I do if I have observed discriminatory and/or aggressive behaviour made towards a colleague?
  4. What can I do as a practice manager or owner?
  5. How can Optometry Australia help?

Where to find help

If you are subjected to, or witness, this type of behaviour in your workplace, we encourage you to talk to your manager or if you prefer, you can obtain complimentary confidential advice from Industry Legal Group, you can contact our Optometry Advisor Help Desk, you can access our Member Assistance Program which offers all members access to qualified counsellors to participate in three coaching and counselling sessions annually or you can contact Lifeline or 1800Respect.

Filed in category: General news, Member resources, Patient care & management, Workplace
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Acknowledgement of Country

In the spirit of reconciliation Optometry Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.