Papers relating to the introduction of the Victorian Eyecare Service (VES)

Catalogue Number: 3560
Papers relating to the introduction of the Victorian Eyecare Service (VES)
Category: Papers
Sub-Category: Collection of papers (Events)
Institution: Victorian College of Optometry
Year Of Publication/Manufacture: 1985
Time Period: 1940 to 1999
Place Of Publication/Manufacture: Melbourne
Publisher/Manufacturer: Victorian College of Optometry
Description Of Item: Six A4 sheets some printed both sides being a letter to optometrists dated January 3 1985 under the letterhead of the Victorian College of Optometry and signed by B. L. Cole, Director of the College announcing the commencement of the Victorian Spectacles Scheme (later to be called the Victorian Eyecare Service) and calling for applications from optometrists to participate in the scheme by January 21, accompanied by 2 pages of explanation of the scheme and its rules, an application form, a map of the country regions in Victoria covered by the scheme where the service will be be provided by privately practising optometrists, and a letter under the letterhead of the Minister of Health in Victoria, and signed by the Minister of the day, Tom Roper MLA. The rules made clear that the Victorian College of Optometry would be the provider in the wider Melbourne metropolitan area.
Historical Significance: The Victorian Eyecare Service was an important public health initiative to make eye care and spectacles affordable for pensioners and others of limited means. Prior to it being introduced low cost spectacles were available in Victoria only from the Victorian College of Optometry, (which at the time has a sizeable teaching clinic that operated outside university terms using salaried and sessional optometrists), and the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. Country people seeking low cost eye care had to travel to Melbourne to visit one of these centres and, if eligible, had their rail fares paid by the Victorian Government. South Australia already had a subsidy for spectacles for people of limited financial means in which SA optometrists could participate but it was simply a government scheme to subsidise the cost of spectacles for pensioners, with no control over the quality of eyecare and spectacles provided and no control over the gap between cost of the spectacles and the subsidy.The triggers for a spectacles scheme in Victoria was an imminent election and the fact that hospitals were required to provide to all their services free of charge, including spectacles, under the agreements with the Federal government. Neither the hospitals or the Victorian government wanted to fund the not inconsiderable cost of hospital primary care eye examinations and spectacles. This limited availability, so hospital waiting times for eye examination and glasses at the RVEEH stretched out to politically unacceptable times.The scheme was also important to the profession of optometry and the Victorian College of Optometry (VCO) because the VCO was appointed the manager of the new scheme and optometrists throughout Victoria were central to its operation. The scheme was set up with quality controls and strict control of the patient contribution for spectacles. Participating optometrists were required to bulk bill their consultation fee. The scheme enabled the VCO to become the principal provider of low cost primary eye care for persons of limited means, especially in metropolitan Melbourne.
How Acquired: Donated by Mitchell Anjou, Fellow of the College
Condition: Very good
Location: Archive office. Pamphlet and ephemera filing cabinet. Drawer 8

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