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Optometry Australia slashes membership fees to ease economic headwinds

Optometry Australia (OA) has cut its membership fees in half for optometrists joining or renewing with their state division by 30 June, with payments not due until October this year.

On Monday, the organisation revealed all members will receive a 50% discount on their fees for the 2020-2021 membership period, equating to six months’ free membership with no reduction in services. The measure has been designed to ease the financial burden on optometrists as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

National president Mr Darrell Baker said the OA national body and the state and territory divisions have worked together to ensure member services remain strong despite the significant fee reductions.

“We remain committed to providing excellent member value. Fee reductions will be funded from reserves and not operational budgets and we have been diligent in managing our investments,” he said.

“For our members, if there was ever a rainy day, it is now, and we are fortunate to be in a position to help at this critical time.”

Baker said the national and state boards, who are all optometrists, were aware of the impact the COVID-19 crisis was having on the sector with the shutdown, or scaling back, of many practices.

“While we are supporting our members through this crisis with a wide range of information and advice, as well as constant advocacy to the key health decision makers at federal and state government levels, we know members are hurting financially,” he said.

According to Baker, the six months free membership is intended to enable members to remain part of a cohesive and united community and ensure they continue to be represented by a strong and dedicated professional body.

The fee reduction is applicable to all membership categories – including full-time, part-time, minimal practice and academic membership – nationwide for 2020-2021 with dues not payable until October 2020. A monthly direct debit payment option is set to commence on this date for those state divisions that offer it.

The organisation stipulated the October cut-off point to ensure that each member is covered by Optometry Australia’s professional indemnity insurance policy, which is negotiated annually in November.

Following the announcement, CEO Ms Lyn Brodie said OA was receiving positive and thoughtful feedback from members.

“It is so important that everyone stays connected through these really difficult times. The offer means optometrists can have the reassurance of OA at their side, without financial strain,” she said.

The announcement has been popular on social media, with optometrists applauding the decision on Facebook, and many sharing their gratitude.

“Thank you to the team at Optometry Australia who have been working tirelessly around the clock to advocate for all optometrists and communicate with us on a regular basis,” one wrote.

Non-members wanting to join OA are advised to contact their relevant state division before 30 June, 2020.