The Optometry Board of Australia (OBA) has increased its annual general registration fee for a third year in a row to align with indexation and will now cost $327.
The authority announced the 3% increase for 2021-22, with optometrists paying $10 more than last year (2020-21) when fees rose to $317, up from $308 in 2019-20.
The fee for practitioners whose principal place of practice is New South Wales is $323.
The registration fee for a non-practising optometrist is $109. There are no registration fees for students, and there is no application fee to change registration type to ‘non-practising’.
However, any optometrist making an initial registration must pay both an application fee and a fee for annual renewal of registration. For example, an optometrist applying for initial general registration must pay an application fee ($217) and a registration fee ($327), totalling $544.
Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and the national boards for the 16 regulated health professions announced the 2021-2022 annual registration fees on 14 September.
Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher said the OBA recognises the effect that the lockdowns may have had on practitioners’ practice.
“We have put in place a registration and renewal fee payment plan for any practitioners who are experiencing financial hardship,” he said.
Information about consideration of financial hardship can be found on the Ahpra website.
Up until 2019, optometrists enjoyed a consistent fee of $300, which was first imposed in 2016-17 and frozen for two years. Prior to that, the sector saw consecutive price drops from a high of $415 in 2012-13.
According to the OBA, its decision to increase the fee by indexation for the 2021–22 period ensures it has sufficient income to carry out its duties and protect the public.
“The board is committed to keeping the fee as low as possible, while meeting its regulatory obligations to protect the public,” the OBA stated.
“[It] acknowledges that this continues to be a challenging time for health practitioners and sincerely thanks practitioners for their important role in keeping the community safe and healthy.”
Optometry was one of six disciplines to experience a 3% fee hike, along with medical ($835), occupational therapy ($119), osteopathy ($387), physiotherapy ($152) and pharmacy ($433).
Psychology and paramedicine were the only two health professions from 16 to reduce their registration fees for 2021-2022. Psychology fees dropped 10% from last year’s fee, to $437, and paramedicine fees reduced by 4.25%, to $270.
Fees for the remaining six health professions – podiatry, nursing and midwifery, medical radiation, chiropractic, Chinese medicine and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island health – remained frozen at last year’s amount.
The annual renewal fee will apply from 14 September 2021 and for most practitioners covers the registration period of 1 December 2021 to 30 November 2022.