Assistant Minister Ken Wyatt with Optometry Australia CEO Genevieve Quilty (L) and acting national policy manager Kirsty Machon
By Rhiannon Riches
Optometry Australia representatives met with Assistant Minister Ken Wyatt in Canberra yesterday to discuss the future of the Visiting Optometrists Scheme (VOS).
Mr Wyatt is Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, and is responsible for rural and regional health, and Indigenous health. VOS funding runs out at the end of this financial year.
In a letter to Mr Wyatt in July, Optometry Australia explained it was keen to secure long-term certainty for this vital government-funded outreach service, which has been supporting eye health in rural and regional areas since 1975.
Optometry Australia CEO Genevieve Quilty said the organisation welcomed the current commitment to support the scheme and expressed to Mr Wyatt yesterday its concern that funding did not extend beyond June 2017.
‘In our conversation with Mr Wyatt we highlighted the importance of optometry services in rural and regional Australia, including our pre-budget submission on a bulk-billing incentive, and our request for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be able to access an annual eye examination under Medicare,’ Ms Quilty said.
‘That was another of our recommendations in our pre-budget submission. We also shared with Mr Wyatt our work on the impact of the freeze on the indexation of MBS patient rebates,’ she said.