0071 Optometry Australia

General information

Submitterʼs name
Optometry Australia
Submitted on behalf of
Professional body or industry association

About the submission

Is your organisation an Approved Sponsor for any of the following programs?
  • Temporary Work (Skilled) (Subclass 457) visa program
  • Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 186) visa program
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (Subclass 187) visa program
  • Labour agreements
No
Are you an Australian assessing authority for migration purposes?
No
Please select the industry your submission is in relation to. If required, you may select multiple industries.
Health Care and Social Assistance
Do you have a particular regional interest? If required, you may select multiple regions.
National

Responses

1. Do you consider that occupations need to be added to or removed from the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)?

Removed from MLTSSL

What occupations should be removed from the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)?

251411 Optometrist

Please outline the evidence or data that would support these occupations being removed from the MLTSSL

There has been rapid, substantial growth in the optometry workforce in recent years, with an increase of 24% of registered optometrists between 2011 and 2017. Rapid growth is expected to continue as a result of increased new graduate numbers. Until 2013 there had been 3 optometry schools in Australia producing graduates who could register to practise optometry in Australia. In 2018 there are 6 courses, considerably increasing the number of people able to enter the workforce. Associated with this, optometry remains a youthful workforce with an average age close to 40 in recent years. In 2015, 3 new registrants entered the workforce for every optometrist who did not renew their registration from 2014 (The National Health Workforce Dataset, Optometry 2015 www.data.hwa.gov.au). In 2016 there were 5,242 people per FTE optometrist. This ratio is low compared to other developed countries where optometrists practice with a similar scope. In the UK in 2015 there were 5,381 people per FTE optometrist and in the USA in 2016 there were 8,870 per optometrist.

We do not believe there is sound evidence to identify any shortage in the optometry workforce. Whilst the data highlighted above attests to rapid growth in the workforce and a high optometrist to population ratio, we know that optometry work hours have not increased in recent years (NHWDS, Optometry 2015 www.data.hwa.gov.au) and that salaries (according to internal surveying of members) have remained static.

The steady growth in the number of people accessing optometric care appears to be outstripped by the growth in the profession. A study published in a peer-reviewed journal in 2015 found that there were sufficient optometrists to meet demand, with likely substantial excess supply in the short term. (Healy, E. et al. 2015. ‘Optometric Supply and Demand in Australia: 2011-2036.’ Clinical and Experimental Optometry 98, 3). Using census data corrected to account for the ageing population, attrition of the optometric workforce, changes in hours worked, new entry level graduates and immigration, it was estimated that for the highest projected demand scenario (a substantial increase on current demand) and lowest rate of dedicated clinical hours per equivalent full-time optometrist (EFTO), that the supply of EFTOs in 2021 would outstrip demand by close to 630 EFTO; and by 2036 by over 1,200 EFTO. It is expected that excess EFTO estimations made today would be higher given increased graduate numbers.

2. Do you consider that occupations need to be added to or removed from the Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL)?

Removed from STSOL

What occupations should be removed from the Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL)?

251411 Optometrist

Please outline the evidence or data that would support these occupations being removed from the STSOL.

As per information provided above, there has been rapid, substantial growth in the optometry workforce in recent years, with rapid growth expected to continue as a result of increased and increasing new graduate numbers. In 2015, 3 new registrants entered the workforce for every optometrist who did not renew their registration from 2014 (The National Health Workforce Dataset, Optometry 2015 www.data.hwa.gov.au). Australia’s FTE optometrist per population ratio remains high compared to other developed countries where optometrists practice with similar scope.

The steady growth in the number of people accessing optometric care appears to be outstripped by the growth in the profession, and a comprehensive workforce supply and demand projections study published in a peer-reviewed journal in 2015 found that there were sufficient optometrists to meet demand at that point, with likely substantial excess supply of optometrists in the short term, even on a rapid growth in demand. (Healy, E. et al. 2015. ‘Optometric Supply and Demand in Australia: 2011-2036.’ Clinical and Experimental Optometry 98, 3). This study was finalised prior to the addition of a new entry-level optometry course that is expected to further increase the growth rate of the profession in the short term.

We do not believe there is sound evidence to identify any shortage in the optometry workforce. Whilst the data highlighted above attests to rapid growth in the workforce and a high optometrist to population ratio, we know that optometry work hours have not increased in recent years and that salaries have remained static.

3. Do you consider that occupations need to be added to or removed from the Regional Occupation List (ROL)?

No
Do you have any supporting material for your submission?
Yes (not published)

Last modified on Monday 1 April 2019 [45171|134786]