Timeline - 75 Years of the ACO

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And In More Detail...


Australian College of Optometry (ACO) founded and incorporated as not-for-profit membership institution to provide a four-year full-time optometry course part of which would be taught by the University of Melbourne. His Honour Judge Leonard Stretton appointed President. 

Ernest Jabara appointed First Vice President and Chairman of Council.


Opticians Registration Board prescribes four-year curriculum by regulation after consultation with the ACO and the University of Melbourne.  First students enrolled in the new course.


Chairman, Ernest Jabara, resigns from Council , causing divisions within the  ACO.Jabara goes on to set up the Optometric Reform Society.


First students complete the ACO’s diploma of Licentiate of Optometric Science.


Professor Sir Arthur Amies appointed President and serves in the role for 25 years.


Curriculum of the course completely revised by Alan Isaacs and John Nathan and a course handbook published for the first time and continues to be published in succeeding years. Course structure and syllabus now align in style and content with university courses.


John Nathan, LOSc diplomate of 1944, appointed Director of Studies.


ACO in serious financial difficulties and cannot pay its part-time lecturers. Student numbers in decline.


Geoffrey Henry, LOSc diplomate of 1951, elected Chairman of Council, joining John Nathan who is already a Councillor. Three other young diplomates join Council. This new generation of Councillors recruit Bertram Nathan as Treasurer.

Government agrees to making an annual operating grant (the origins of what is today known as the Victorian Eyecare Scheme).

The Registration Board increases its annual grant. The ACO is back in the black.


Property near the University of Melbourne purchased.


Government of Victoria makes a capital grant for a College building.


Barry Cole appointed first full-time lecturer.


Australian College of Optometry changes its name to Victorian College of Optometry (VCO).

New building in Carlton completed, occupied and officially opened by the Deputy Premier.

Agreement reached for the University of Melbourne to take over the College LOSc course as a degree course leading to Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc)


First BAppSc graduate in optometry at the University of Melbourne. Several past LOSc diplomates complete the conversion course to be awarded BAppSc.


The VCO becomes an affiliated institution of the University and is in effect a department of the University responsible for the course overall and for teaching the vision science and optometry subjects.


Martin Report recommends optometry be taught in technical colleges 1.


Optometry transferred to the Faculty of Science after closure of the Faculty of Applied Science. Degree becomes BScOptom.


VCO establishes the National Vision Research Institute of Australia (NVRI) and acquires land to build its laboratories adjoining the VCO building in Carlton.


Kooyong Low Vision Clinic established in partnership with the Association of the Blind (now Vision Australia).


Department of Optometry established at the University of Melbourne.

VCO continues with responsibility for the Optometric Clinic and the NVRI.


VCO sets up annual programs of Continuing Professional Education.


ACO sets up its first satellite clinic at the  East Preston Community Health Centre with the purpose of making low-cost optometric services more accessible to residents in this low socio-economic outer area of Melbourne. Four more such clinics would follow shortly after, in Broadmeadows, Braybrook, Frankston & Doveton.


Barry Cole appointed foundation professor of optometry in the University of Melbourne.


Australian College of Optometry commissioned to set up and run the Victorian Eyecare Service , providing subsidised primary eye care and spectacles for people on low incomes.

A major building expansion of the ACO Carlton premises commences.


Major building expansion is completed, although there would be three more stages of building to follow.


Professor Barry Cole retires. UK optometrist, Professor Neville McBrien succeeds him as Director of the ACO and head of the University of Melbourne Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences.


Neville McBrien resigns as Director of the ACO, but continues as Professor and Head of the University of Melbourne Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences.
Mitchell Anjou is appointed acting Director of the ACO.


Joanne Booth appointed as CEO of the ACO, the first non-optometrist to head the organisation.


The VCO changes its name back to Australian College of Optometry.


The Director of the NVRI, Professor Sarah Hosking, is appointed as the new CEO of the ACO, following the resignation of Joanne Booth.


The Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences of the University of Melbourne moves from the ACO Carlton premises that it had occupied for 38 years to new premises on the Parkville campus of the University.


Maureen O'Keefe is appointed CEO of the ACO (coming from 7 years as COO at Walter & Eliza Hall Research Institute) following the 2012 resignation of Sarah Hosking.

New Affiliation Agreements are signed with the University of Melbourne and the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.

The Mobile Eye Care Service is launched at Ouyen in partnership with the Royal Flying Doctor Service Victoria and the Mallee Track Health & Community Services.

A new Low Vision Clinic is opened at the ACO Carlton clinic in partnership Vision Australia.

The NVRI is appointed Vision Node leader for the Centre of Excellence in Integrative Brain Function.


The ACO Certificate in Ocular Therapeutics commences, with 51 participants in the first intake.

John Nicola of Optiqueline announces that the fundraising efforts from his participation in the Marathon des Sables in 2015 will go to the NVRI.

Associate Professor Sharon Bentley is appointed as the new Director of Clinical Services, following the return to Ireland of Associate Professor Jonathan Jackson.
The ACO Metropolitan Clinic at Doveton is relocated to Berwick.

Launch of the ACO's 75th Anniversary


1. This report of the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia, published in 1965, highlighted the link between tertiary education and economic growth as well as the importance of diversity. Established on August 27, 1961 as a committee of the Australian Universities Commission and chaired by L. H. Martin, it was commissioned to ‘consider the pattern of tertiary education in relation to the needs and resources of Australia, and to make recommendations to the Commission on the future development of tertiary education’.

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