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Government extends funding for visiting optometrists

06/10/2017
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The Federal Government has confirmed it will continue to fund the Visiting Optometrists Scheme (VOS) for at least the next three years.

Funding for 2017–18 has been set at $6.8 million, which is consistent with current levels, and with annual indexation will reach $7 million by 2019–2020.

Optometry Australia acting CEO Ms Kirsty Machon said the announcement recognised the importance of the scheme for rural and remote Australians, and that she welcomed the government’s ongoing support.



"The objective of the VOS is to improve eye health for people in regional, rural and remote locations by increasing optometry services in areas of need, developing the coordination of those services, and ensuring quality ongoing patient care."
Ms Kirsty Machon, Optometry Australia acting CEO

“This is an outcome we have sought in meetings with the Department of Health. We also had the opportunity to raise this last year with the Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt, who was very supportive of the aims of the scheme,” Machon said.

The objective of the VOS is to improve eye health for people in regional, rural and remote locations by increasing optometry services in areas of need, developing the coordination of those services, and ensuring quality ongoing patient care.

The scheme is also designed to enhance communication between visiting optometrists, local health providers and other visiting health professionals.

It aims to achieve this by reimbursing optometrists for a range of expenses incurred when providing outreach services, such as travel, accommodation and meals, facility fees, administrative support, and the lease and transport of equipment.

The VOS is administered through state fund holders and negotiations for the new funding agreements are underway, with early discussions only in the Northern Territory, where the Commonwealth government is the fund holder.

Optometrists interested in providing services under the VOS programme should contact the fund holder in their state or territory.

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