Visiting Optometrists Scheme – increase funding

Changes and increased funding will increase the number of optometrists in the Visiting Optometrists Scheme and the number of remote and very remote communities receive eye health care through the scheme.

Page last updated: 08 May 2007

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Why is this important?

  • The Visiting Optometrists Scheme (the scheme) supports outreach services to remote and very remote communities which would not otherwise have ready access to primary eye care.
  • A review conducted of the scheme in 2005-06 found that it was not providing sufficient services to remote and very remote locations and did not adequately support optometrists.
  • Changes to the scheme funded in the Budget will ensure that assistance is better targeted to the most isolated communities, and will increase financial incentives to optometrists to participate in the scheme.
  • Funding will be provided for optometrists’ travel, accommodation, hire of consulting rooms, and administrative support at outreach locations.
  • This measure will fund increases in both the number of optometrists providing services under the scheme – up from 70 to 100 – as well as in the number of communities that benefit from the scheme.

Who will benefit?

  • On average, the scheme supports eye health services to more than 34,000 people a year.
  • This measure will benefit many Australians living and working in remote and very remote communities, including many Indigenous communities which tend to have poor eye health.

What funding is the Government committing to the initiative?

  • The Government has committed additional funding of $8.6 million over four years to this measure.

What have we done in the past?

  • The scheme was introduced in 1975 to help optometrists meet the added costs of providing services to remote areas throughout Australia.
  • The estimated expenditure on the scheme in 2006-07 is $782,000.

When will the initiative conclude?

  • The measure is ongoing.

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