Catalogue Number: 1830
Code of ethics and practice standards (VCO membership)
Sub-Category: Professional rules, code of ethics
Year Of Publication/Manufacture: 1980 - 2000
Time Period: 1940 to 1999
Place Of Publication/Manufacture: Melbourne
Description Of Item: Foolscap size spiral spring file folder, cream stiff cover, marked 'C1-8 Code of Ethics and Practice Standards (VCO membership)', containing (1) the 1980 Code of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct of the Victorian College of Optometry, (2) the 1993 Provisional Code of Ethics and Code of Practice Standards and (3) a draft of the September 1999 version of these codes. The file also includes copies of some correspondence about the codes.
Historical Significance: The profession of optometry began to emerge as a health profession at the end of the 19th C, when the science of refractive errors and the art of refraction became systematic, enabling precise correction refractive errors. The new profession could now give advice on vision and its enhancement rather than simply provide corrective glasses by trial and error. It was keen to be taken seriously and to earn the trust of its clientele by practising in a professional manner, as had been established by the medical profession some 50 to 100 years earlier. In Australia, the various optometry associations turned their attention to formulating codes of ethics and professional conduct in the early years of the 20thC. Examples of these early Australian codes of ethics dating from 1914 to 1950 can be found at Cat # 899, 925, 926, 927, 928, 929 and 974. The origins of medical ethics lie, of course, with the Hippocratic oath (5thC BC). Muslim medicine (eg The book by Ish q ibn Al al-Ruh w 'Adab al-Tabib' ("Practical Ethics of the Physician" 9thC AD) and early Jewish and Christian church philosophers. Modern formulation of medical ethics is relatively recent: The American Medical Association adopted its first code of ethics in 1847, based in large part upon Percival's 1849 book 'Medical Ethics'. Aspects of medical ethics have been criticised for being self serving and anti-competitive. This criticism became dominant in the 1980s with the emergence of economic rationalism and advocacy of the effectiveness of an unconstrained market. Professional rules restricting advertising and requirements that ownership of a medical or optometry practice must be in the hands of the professionally qualified people working in the practice had to be re-thought. The Victorian College of Optometry began work on recasting its codes in terms of provisions that served patients interests and promoted high standards of practice. The 1980 document in this file represents the codes before this shift in approach and the 1993 and 1999 documents represent the new approach. See Cat # 900 for the final version.
How Acquired: Record of VCO
Location: Archive office. Pamphlet and ephemera filing cabinet. Drawer 4