Planning an effective veterinary workforce

Veterinarians have important roles to play in animal, human and community wellbeing. It’s essential that the nation has the right number of vets to meet the needs of Australia’s animals and their owners, that those vets have the right skills and are the right places.

Veterinarians in rural and regional areas ensure the safety of the food we eat and export, care for the health and welfare of livestock, and are necessary to help identify and respond to a serious disease outbreak. Two-thirds of households include companion animals, and pets are increasingly valued as important family members. Pet ownership has demonstrated advantages to people’s health and wellbeing, and contributes to strong communities. Effective workforce planning seeks to ensure that these critical roles are filled and the veterinary profession has a healthy and sustainable future in Australia.

Although there have been numerous government reports (see information below) in the past about ensuring veterinary services are meeting Australia’s needs, these have often focussed only on rural services. There has been no efforts to quantify current demand for veterinary services, or project future demand.

At the same time, three new veterinary schools have been established in the last 10 years, and the student population at the existing 4 schools has grown in that time. As a result, a large number of new veterinarians are beginning to enter the profession. Until better workforce data is available the AVA support the capping of veterinary university places and a moratorium on any new veterinary schools.

There has never been reliable veterinary workforce analysis that covers the full range of demand, supply and future needs for veterinarians. Filling this data and analysis vacuum is the necessary first step to planning an effective veterinary workforce in Australia. The AVA has initiated several projects to improve the availability of workforce data and analysis to facilitate more effective veterinary workforce planning in the long term.

These issues are equally critical to the Australian community and veterinary profession, which is why planning an effective veterinary workforce is one of the AVA's five strategic priorities.


Workforce data

AVA projects and activities to access and analyse information about Australian veterinarians to facilitate effective workforce planning

Frawley report

Frawley’s 2003 Review of Rural Veterinary Services was a comprehensive examination of veterinary workforce issues in Australia.

Craven and Neumann reports

The Craven report (2005) and the Neumann report (2007) further explored veterinary workforce issues and made important recommendations.

Government pathology services

The availability and efficiency of government pathology services are vital in responding to emerging and exotic animal diseases.

National registration

A process is underway to allow veterinarians to practice in all states without needing to be registered in each one.


Senate inquiry into higher education and skills training to support future demand in agriculture and agribusiness in Australia - 10 November 2011

Skilled occupations list 2013 Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency - 18 November 2012

Response to Treasury discussion paper on tax deductions for self-education expenses - 9 July 2013

Skilled occupations list 2014 Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency - 20 November 2013

Review of the demand driven higher education system - 12 December 2013

Letter to Education Minister Christopher Pyne in response to the report of the review of the demand driven higher education system - 16 April 2014

Senate inquiry into the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014 - 22 September 2014

Skilled occupations list 2015 Australian Department of Industry - 14 November 2014

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