A Guide to Kids Vision Screening Programs Across Australia

A Guide to Kids Vision Screening Programs Across Australia

29th Sep 2023

As a parent, you want to ensure your child’s vision development is on track, and catching vision issues early is key to correcting or managing them effectively. The National Framework for Vision Screening recommends that all Australian children aged 3.5 -5 years receive comprehensive vision screening and guides the various programs implemented across the country, though some differences exist between states/territories regarding ages and tests conducted.

Here's a brief overview of the vision screening services available by state and territory to help you understand what vision checks your child should receive at different ages. Because healthy vision is so critical for children's learning and development, knowing about these services is a great step to ensuring your child has the best possible chance of proper vision development.

New South Wales

NSW Health offers all 4-year-olds free vision screening via their StEPS program. This acronym stands for Statewide Eyesight Preschooler Screening, and the program is intended to identify vision problems before children begin school. Early diagnosis means early treatment, which in turn leads to more favourable outcomes. It's recommended all 4-year-old children participate in the program, and for those kids identified with significant vision issues, StEPS provide follow-up services.

Free access to the StEPS program is available for all 4-year-old children in NSW offered at childcare centres and preschools. Contact your local StEPS office for a screening appointment should your child not attend preschool or daycare.


The Victorian government supports early vision screening and recommends children have two vision tests in early childhood.

These are called the Melbourne Initial Screening Tests, and the first is recommended shortly after birth before they are discharged from the hospital.

A second vision screening test is recommended at age three and 3 and a half.

Again, the importance of early detection and treatment motivates these recommendations. For school-age children, extra support may be available at school through the government's Educational Vision Assessment Clinics, the Visiting Primary School Nursing Program and the Glasses for Kids Program.


The Prep Vision Screening Service offered by the Queensland Government is available to prep students across the state attending both public and private schools.

A series of two non-invasive tools are used to screen children for common vision problems and are administered by registered nurses from the Primary School Nurse Health Readiness Program.

The rationale for this program is aligned with the national framework's goal of early identification and treatment because when visual abnormalities are detected and managed promptly, children are more likely to achieve their maximum potential.

South Australia

South Australian children have vision and hearing assessments during their 4 - 5 year-old Health and Development Check.

Tests are undertaken by a Child and family health nurse, either in a preschool or community health clinic setting.

Screening at this age is crucial to identify any vision problems that may affect a child's ability to learn and develop their language, communication and social skills.

Western Australia

The Western Australian government acknowledges the undeniable correlation between healthiness early in life and well-being in later life, and, as such, children in WA can access a number of health checks before beginning school.

The Government of Western Australia's Community Health Clinical Nursing Manual acknowledges improved vision outcomes resulting from vision screening programs aimed at children aged from 18 months to 5 years.

Screening is offered to Western Australian Children at the School Entry Health Assessment.


In Tasmania, The Child Health and Parenting Service (CHaPS) offers free child health and development assessments for all children aged 0-5 years.

The Healthy Kids Check provides a full health assessment, including vision screening, to identify and address any concerns before beginning school. Your GP or a local child health centre can conduct this test, and for Tasmanian parents, more information can be obtained by calling 1300 808 178.

Northern Territory

According to the Healthy Under 5 Kids Program, basic vision screening is incorporated into the child health checks conducted from birth to age 5 in the Northern Territory. This involves Red Reflex testing for infants and then screening with The Lea Chart in children aged from 3.5 to 4 years.

Australian Capital Territory

All ACT children are offered a Kindergarten Health Check in their first year of primary school, and this testing includes vision screening. To ensure all children have the opportunity for screening, catch-up clinics are available should your child be absent from school on the clinic day.

Different, but the same

While each Australian state offers their own version of a vision screening service for children, there is a common commitment to identify and treat vision issues early. Early detection ensures better outcomes for children, which in turn leads to a greater chance of proper vision development. The best way to ensure healthy vision is through regular screenings and check-ups from birth to school age, regardless of which state you live in.

While these screening programs are designed to detect common eyesight issues, remember that children's vision can change rapidly, and eye exams by an optometrist are recommended even if early screening tests are passed. This is particularly important for children with a family history of vision problems or if there are concerns about their vision development. Remember, eyesight is a precious gift, and by participating in the offered screening opportunities, you can support your children to have a clear and bright future.