FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the difference between the OAB and OA?

  2. What award covers orthoptists who work in private ophthalmic practices?

  3. Is the award the same award across each state in Australia?

  4. How is the rate of pay for an orthoptist determined under the award?

  5. Does my employer pay for conference attendance and leave?

  6. Is an orthoptist covered by Long Service Leave?

  7. What award covers orthoptists who work in public hospitals?

  8. What union covers orthoptists in both private ophthalmic practices and public health eye clinics and community settings?

  9. Can an orthoptist refract and write a prescription for glasses?

  10. Private Orthoptic Practice - Does Medicare cover Orthoptic services?

  11. Private Orthoptic Practice - Does an Orthoptist need to have a provider number to bill private orthoptic patients?

  12. Private Orthoptic Practice - Is orthoptics covered by NDIS?

 

What is the difference between the AOB and OA?

The Australian Orthoptic Board (AOB) is the registration body for orthoptists in Australia.  The function of the registration board is to regulate the profession of orthoptics in order to protect the public.  The AOB accredits the orthoptic university courses and all CPD activity.

Orthoptics Australia (OA) is a membership society for orthoptists.  OAs vision: striving for excellence in eye health care.  OA also represents the profession on many committees to ensure we are able to continue our advocacy work and to liaise with government and other bodies on issues that affect orthoptists. OA has representation on all four policy committees at Vision2020 and Allied Health Professions Australia (AHPA). Both these organisations develop policy positions, strategies, and submissions to improve eye health for Australians or play a strategic leadership role that the Federal Government or other national organisations turn to when they seek a collective view of allied health.

Both companies operate independently of each other.

 

What award covers orthoptists who work in private ophthalmic practices?

Health Professionals and Support Staff Award 2010

 

Is the award the same award across each state in Australia?

Yes. The award is a national award.

 

How is the rate of pay for an orthoptist determined under the award?

Previous orthoptic awards prior to 2010 would reward employees for the years of service.   

However, the current award which commenced in 2010, like all modern awards, seeks to reward employees who have higher levels of qualifications.   

Within the Health Professionals and Support Staff Award are classifications of levels of payrates ranging from Level 1 to Level 4. Within each level there are paypoints.  

It is the employer who determines what classification of level of employment is being offered. This level should be advertised when the job is being advertised so that it is clear to the orthoptist the classification of the job.  

Each classification level for employment needs to meet certain required levels of responsibility that are held by the employee. This is clearly outlined within the award. The level of responsibility, of course, increases with the level of pay.  

However, newly graduated orthoptists have an entry level of employment.

For example, a new graduate orthoptist would be classified as Level 1 Paypoint 4 for entry level with a Master’s degree.  As the orthoptist accrues hours/experience of work the pay point level will increase to a maximum level of paypoint 6 in Level 1.  The award outlines how the transition through the paypoints occurs: 

15.1 Progression through pay points

(a) Progression through level 1

Employees will enter at the relevant pay point and then progress annually or, in the case of a part-time or casual employee,1824 hours until they reach pay point 6.

(b) Progression through levels 2–4

Progression for all classifications for which there is more than one pay point will be by annual movement to the next pay point having regard to the acquisition and use of skills, or in the case of a part-time or casual employee,1824 hours of similar experience.

From then onwards the employment being offered to an employee will need reclassifying to a higher level for an orthoptist to be remunerated with a higher level of pay.

Of course, CPI increases as outlined by the Fair Work Commission which occur on the 1st July each year are added to the paypoint amounts and will increase the award payrate.

The reclassifying of employment is often performed in discussion between the orthoptist and  the employer.

Of course, negotiations between employer and orthoptist are confidential and can include higher levels of remuneration and adjustments to pay and conditions above the award. 

It is very important that any changes in conditions and wages, which are different from the award, should be outlined in writing as a contract of employment between the orthoptist and the employer.

 

Does my employer pay for conference attendance and leave?

Under the current award the employer is not expected to meet the expenses of an employee to attend a work-related conference. However, this is a clear example of how a written contract between employee and employer and include paid conference leave and conference support (registration and accommodation costs).

 

Is an orthoptist covered by Long Service Leave?

Long service leave is regulated by state legislation rather than the award.  

As such there is no provision under the modern (national) award for long service leave.  

To determine payment of long service, leave the appropriate state legislation must be considered.

An example of long service leave coverage is in NSW. Whereby Long Service Leave is covered by the Long Service Leave Act 1955 No 38.   

The Long service leave Act states:

(1)  Except as otherwise provided in this Act, every worker shall be entitled to long service leave on ordinary pay in respect of the service of the worker with an employer. Service with the employer before the commencement of this Act as well as service with the employer after such commencement shall be taken into account for the purposes of this section.

(2) 

(a)  Subject to paragraph (a2) and subsection (13) the amount of long service leave to which a worker shall be so entitled shall—

(i)  in the case of a worker who has completed at least 10 years service with an employer be—

(A)  in respect of 10 years service so completed, 2 months, and
(B)  in respect of each 5 years service with the employer completed since the worker last became entitled to long service leave, 1 month, and
(C)  on the termination of the worker’s services after the completion of 15 years service, in respect of the number of years service with the employer completed since the worker last became entitled to an amount of long service leave, a proportionate amount on the basis of 2 months for 10 years service, and

(ii)  in the case of a worker who has completed at least 10 years service but less than 15 years with an employer and whose services with the employer are terminated or cease for any reason, be a proportionate amount on the basis of 3 months for 15 years service, and

(iii)  in the case of a worker who has completed with an employer at least five years service, and whose services are terminated by the employer for any reason other than the worker’s serious and wilful misconduct, or by the worker on account of illness, incapacity or domestic or other pressing necessity, or by reason of the death of the worker, be a proportionate amount on the basis of 2 months for 10 years service.

The act further states that the definition of a worker, who is entitled to long service leave, is any person employed under continuous service whether on a permanent, casual, part-time or any other basis.

 

What award covers orthoptists who work in public hospitals?

In NSW: NSW HEALTH SERVICE HEALTH PROFESSIONALS (STATE) AWARD 2019

In VIC: ALLIED HEALTH PROFESSIONALS (VICTORIAN PUBLIC HEALTH SECTOR) SINGLE INTEREST ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT 2016-2020

 

What union covers orthoptists in both private ophthalmic practices and public health eye clinics and community settings?

The Health Services Union

 

Can an orthoptist refract and write a prescription for glasses?

Any person is allowed to perform refractions as there is no legislation outlining who can refract. However, only certain professions can write a glasses prescription. The laws governing who can write a glasses prescription are held under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 which is a state-based regulation that is replicated in every state of Australia.

Specific requirements need to be met for an orthoptist to write a glasses prescription and there are in place penalties for an orthoptist who does not adhere to the regulation.

Sections 122 of the act outlines the restrictions under the National Law Act 2009

 

Private Orthoptic Practice - Does Medicare cover Orthoptic services?

No Medicare does not cover the payments of orthoptic consultations. Generally, orthoptic consultations are partly reimbursed by private health insurers.  

The amount of reimbursement varies between health funds.  

However, there are certain and very specific services that do cover orthoptic services under Medicare. These cover clients who meet very specific levels of need, for example when a child is referred for assessment by a paediatrician in regards to their diagnosis of  Autism or a Pervasive Developmental disorder and /or disability.

 

Private Orthoptic Practice - Does an Orthoptist need to have a provider number to bill private orthoptic patients?

Yes an Orthoptist must have a provider number to bill patients for orthoptic services. This number is obtained from Medicare using a specific form which can be found here.

 

Private Orthoptic Practice - Is orthoptics covered by NDIS?

Yes. An orthoptist can provide services to a client under NDIS. There are various ways as to how a client can be managed under NDIS, which impacts how an orthoptist bills for services under NDIS.  

Each client will need to be contacted and discussion had in regard to the billing under their individual plan depending on whether the client is self-managed, agency-managed or case-managed.