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By Helen Carter

Journalist

The number of registered optometrists in Australia has topped 6,000 and nearly two-thirds are therapeutically endorsed, latest figures from the Optometry Board of Australia show.

The figures also reveal that the feminisation of the workforce is continuing, with 56 per cent of practitioners now female.

OBA’S registrant data from April 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020 show that at the end of the 2019-2020 financial year:

  • There were 6, 043 optometrists registered in Australia including 5,487 with general registration, 173 with non-practising registration, 22 with postgraduate training or supervised practice registration and one with teaching or research registration
  • There were 3,380 female practitioners (55.9 per cent) and 2,663 male practitioners (44.1 per cent)
  • 3,801 or 65 per cent of the overall figure have scheduled medicines endorsement
  • Young optometrists aged in their 20s and 30s comprise the largest group; there are 1502 registered optometrists aged in their 20s and 1504 in their 30s
  • There are 1,242 registered optometrists aged in their 40s, 1053 in their 50s, 657 in their 60s, 81 in their 70s and four aged over 80

Optometry Australia’s National Policy Manager Skye Cappuccio said the profession was continuing to grow at the accelerated rate it had been for the past five years or so.

‘We now have close to two-thirds of the profession therapeutically endorsed and this is significant in terms of evolution of scope,’ she said. ‘The profession is also getting progressively younger and more feminised.

‘There also appears a demand for more flexible employment conditions and there are promising examples across the sector of more flexible approaches but we believe the sector can continue to do better to accommodate flexible working.

‘As the profession continues to evolve, we feel it will need to do better in accommodating flexible work, but also that changing technologies and practice hours may support ever-more flexible arrangements.’

Ms Cappuccio said Optometry Australia was working hard on behalf of members to increase awareness of eye health and the need to see an optometrist regularly to ensure good eye health, thereby increasing demand for members of the profession.

‘We also continue to encourage the government to work with the profession to assess the optimal level of optometric graduates to ensure that those in training and recent graduates have a fulfilling and busy professional life on graduation,’ she said.

The Australian optometric workforce 2005 study in Clinical and Experimental Optometry notes that in 1977, one in seven optometrists in Australia were women and this had jumped to 41.3 per cent by 2005.

For more information and help members can see these sections on our website:

Also read our series for International Women’s Day this year on female optometrists:

Filed in category: Registration, Scope of practice, Therapeutics, Workforce
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