Deakin University

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Demographics and distribution of new entrants to the optometry profession in Australia

journal contribution
posted on 2021-01-01, 00:00 authored by Jane DuffyJane Duffy, Amanda DouglassAmanda Douglass, David S Hammond, Craig A Woods
Clinical relevance
An assessment of the total number, demographics and geographic distribution of new entrants to the optometry profession in Australia can assist planning for workforce requirements.

Over the past decade, the number of registered optometrists in Australia has increased by 30.1 per cent, a rate that is greater than the population growth of the country (12.1 per cent). Concerns have been expressed about the size of the optometry workforce in a context of increasing numbers of graduating optometrists. This paper analyses data obtained from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) about new entrants to the profession and their initial practice location during the period 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2018.

A de‐identified dataset was obtained from AHPRA that revealed the following characteristics of new entrants: qualification, gender, year of birth (in five‐year bands), registration type, registration endorsement and principal place of practice including its Remoteness Area classification.

Data for 1,680 entrants were eligible for analysis; 80 per cent graduated from an Australian university, 12 per cent graduated from the optometry program in New Zealand, and seven per cent were graduates of an overseas university. The remaining two per cent registered via the Trans‐Tasman Mutual Recognition Agreement, although the dataset did not include the qualification. The United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland provided the majority of overseas entrants (60 per cent). Most (75 per cent) entrants commenced practice in a major Australian city. Graduates of Australian universities tended to commence practice in the state in which they trained or an adjacent state or territory. Juxtaposed on the data outlined above is the high proportion (42 per cent) of overseas‐trained optometrists commencing practice in Western Australia.

Coincident with the newer optometry programs producing graduates is the increased number of optometrists entering the Australian workforce over the past decade, with the majority commencing practice in major cities. Australia‐trained optometrists tend to commence practice in the state where their training was undertaken. New entrants to the optometry profession can be generalised as graduates of an Australian optometry program, female, aged in their early‐mid 20s and qualified for therapeutic practice.



Clinical and Experimental Optometry





Article number



Taylor & Francis


Abingdon, Eng.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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