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Better regulation is one of the AVA's five strategic priorities.
Veterinarians are regulated by legislation that varies between states and territories. Each state or territory has a board established by legislation that registers and regulates the veterinary profession, and veterinarians pay a registration fee each year in order to practice veterinary medicine in their state or territory.
This is a complex system for a small workforce of 11,000 registered veterinarians across Australia, and which creates difficulty in quickly and effectively mobilising qualified veterinarians across state borders in the event of a disaster or disease outbreak.
Laws vary significantly around which procedures may only be done by veterinarians, whether people who are not veterinarians can access veterinary medicines, and under what circumstances. To simplify regulation by removing unnecessary red tape, the AVA national harmonisation of all regulation of veterinary practice. In 2014, AVA completed a project to develop Recommended key principles for veterinary practice acts in Australia. These key principles are the guidebook for all AVA advocacy in relation to veterinary legislation.
A commitment by the Council of Australian Governments to national recognition of veterinary registration (by state registration boards recognising the registration of veterinarians from other states and territories) has taken far too long to be implemented, and this should be fast-tracked.
Veterinarians are very concerned about a trend in some states that allows invasive procedures to be undertaken by non-veterinarians. These can have serious animal welfare implications for the animals, and create significant extra costs for animal owners. They include the use of power tools in equine dentistry, pregnancy testing in cattle, and spaying cattle.
Veterinarians are active and committed to retaining 'acts of veterinary science' in governing legislation to ensure that people who undertake invasive or potentially dangerous procedures on animals have the necessary education and training to do it safely and humanely. A widespread trend towards deregulation by Australian governments applies continuing pressure to remove the protection to animals and their owners afforded by legislated acts of veterinary science. At the same time, there are moves by some sporting organisations to require an additional and conflicting level of regulation on veterinarians that will counteract the existing provisions for investigating and disciplining vets.
In this broader context of pressures to both deregulate and over-regulate the profession, the AVA's concern beyond the interests of the veterinary profession. We are concerned about how these moves are likely to or are already affecting the welfare of animals. Another reason to get the regulation of vets right is to protect the consumers of veterinary services.
Australia’s veterinary profession wants sensible and consistent regulation for the whole country that protects the welfare of animals and the rights of owners to a quality service, while also creating the environment for a sustainable and healthy veterinary profession in the long term.
In any given year, the AVA will be involved with a number of responses to proposed regulatory changes or reviews of existing arrangements. Veterinary practice legislation and supporting regulations are all subject to periodic review. Other regulatory provisions that affect veterinary practice are also part of this strategic priority program. These include:
- National veterinary chemicals regulation by APVMA
- State and territory drugs and poisons regulation
- Regulations around the use of x-ray and other therapeutic technologies
- Work health and safety regulation.
Current program priorities include advocating to the remaining jurisdictions that have not yet implemented national recognition of veterinary registration (ACT, NT and WA) to complete this process. There are also major reviews of veterinary legislation taking place in Queensland and WA that AVA is involved with.
- National recognition of veterinary registration - An initiative of Australian state and territory governments to streamline registration requirements for veterinarians
- Licensing vets involved in thoroughbred racing
- Review of the Queensland Veterinary Surgeons Act 1936 - 7 October 2013
- WA Veterinary Practice Bill 2015 (draft 6) - 27 February 2015