Visiting Optometrists Scheme

The Visiting Optometrists Scheme (VOS) supports optometrists to deliver outreach optometric services to remote and very remote locations, and rural communities with an identified need for optometric services. This is achieved by addressing some of the financial disincentives incurred by participating optometrists providing outreach services.

Page last updated: 28 June 2012

2012 Invitation to Apply for Funding Status: CLOSED

The Invitation to Apply for Funding under the VOS in 2012-14 closed on 27 February 2012.

The objectives of the VOS are to:

  • improve the eye health of Australians living and working in remote and very remote locations, and rural communities with an identified need for optometric services;
  • increase visiting optometrist services in areas of identified need;
  • support optometrists to provide outreach services; and
  • encourage and facilitate integration and communication between visiting optometrists, local health providers and other visiting health professionals about ongoing patient care.

Elements of VOS

The VOS has two elements:
      • Core VOS; and
      • VOS Expansion for Indigenous Australians.

Funding under the Core VOS has been available since 1975. In recognition of the prevalence of eye disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, additional funding has been provided through the Improving Eye and Ear Health Services for Indigenous Australians for Better Education and Employment Outcomes measure since 2009. This element, known as the VOS Expansion for Indigenous Australians, aims to provide new and increased numbers of optometrist visits to Indigenous Australians in remote and very remote Indigenous communities.

What costs can VOS support?

Funding may be provided for costs that include;
  • travel, accommodation and meals;
  • facility fees and administrative support at the outreach location;
  • external locum support at the home practice; and
  • lease and transport of equipment.

In addition, an absence from practice allowance may be payable to compensate participating optometrists for the loss of business opportunity due to time spent travelling to and from an outreach location to deliver VOS supported services.

National priority locations

Under both elements of VOS, services are targeted to areas of need located within the Australian Standard Geographical Classification – Remoteness Areas (ASGC-RA) 2 – 5 (Inner Regional – Very Remote) with a focus on communities in ASGC-RA 4 and 5 (Remote and Very Remote). Communities in ASGC-RA 2 and 3 (Inner Regional and Outer Regional) with an identified need for optometric services may also be considered to receive VOS services.

A list of national priority locations has been developed by the Department in consultation with the VOS National Advisory Committee and VOS State and Territory Reference Groups. These advisory groups include representatives from the Optometrists Association Australia, Vision 2020 Australia and the relevant State and Northern Territory governments.

The list of national priority locations is available for download. National Priority Locations (Effective from 1 July 2012), National Priority Locations (Effective from 1 July 2011).

VOS Program Guidelines

The Program Guidelines for the Visiting Optometrists Scheme are available.

How are applications assessed?

Applications will undergo formal assessment by the VOS National Advisory Committee in consultation with VOS Reference Groups in each state and the Northern Territory. Further information on the assessment process is included at Section 7.4 of the Program Guidelines for the Visiting Optometrists Scheme.

Contact Details

Optometrists interested in providing an outreach optometric service can contact representatives from the Department of Health and Ageing for further information:

Email: vos@health.gov.au

Postal Address:
Director, Rural and Indigenous Health Outreach Section
Rural and Regional Health Australia (MDP 1053)
Department of Health and Ageing
GPO Box 9848
CANBERRA ACT 2601

Phone:
Central Office: (02) 6289 8667
New South Wales: (02) 9263 3905
Queensland: (07) 3360 2544
Western Australia: (08) 9346 5297
Northern Territory: (08) 8919 3447
South Australia: (08) 8237 8014
Victoria: (03) 9665 8220
Tasmania: (03) 6221 1436 Top of page