AVA receives funding to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of Australian vets

30 Aug 2023

 The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) has received a grant from the US-based Zoetis Foundation to help deliver the THRIVE Cultivating Safe Teams psychological health and safety  program to veterinary clinics around the country. 

 “We would like to thank the Zoetis Foundation for their generous support funding the first year of the pilot program and our long-standing industry partners who have pledged their commitment to cultivating safe teams in veterinary workplaces,” said AVA President, Dr. Diana Barker. 

 The Zoetis Foundation is committed to its goal of $35 million in grants distributed by the end of 2025 to provide opportunities for veterinarians and farmers across the Foundation’s three grant-making priorities: Education, Well-being and Livelihoods. The AVA received a US$120,000 (AUD$180,000) grant from the Foundation. 

“It is critical that we empower the veterinary community to prioritize well-being and create a positive impact on the future of veterinary medicine,” said Jeannette Ferran Astorga, President of the Zoetis Foundation. We are proud to support the Australian Veterinary Association and their work cultivating workplaces that foster veterinary mental health and well-being to advance a thriving veterinary community."
The THRIVE Cultivating Safe Teams pilot program was launched in May this year and seeks to positively impact the mental health and well-being of the veterinary industry and was developed in response to the AVA’s 2021 Veterinary Wellness stakeholder research and broader industry discussions in late 2022. It is aimed at empowering all members of the team to create a cultural shift in their workplace.

Over 120 veterinary clinics from rural, regional, and metropolitan areas across Australia expressed interest in participating in the pilot program. The pilot will be delivered to 50 workplaces free of charge, between September 2023 and December 2024. 

 “Our goal is to see the commitment to cultivating a safe and mentally healthy workplace flourish across the veterinary industry. The pilot program will provide us with measurable data to evaluate how we can extend the program to an industry wide movement.” Dr. Barker said.

Burnout and mental health challenges are well recognised in the veterinary profession. Research conducted by the AVA in 2021 found that over half (66.7%) of respondents said they had experienced a mental health condition at some stage, compared to 61.8% in the general population. Work related factors that contributed to burnout and mental health issues include challenging client interactions, working long hours, managing a high workload, dealing with staff shortages, poor remuneration, after hours and on-call work and poor workplace culture.

An industry specific Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Framework informed and led by stakeholders in the veterinary profession will form part of a suite of resources that underpin the pilot program training. This framework is now available for all members of the veterinary community to use.

 “It is our ambition to have every veterinary workplace in Australia trained in psychological health and safety and the Zoetis Foundation’s grant is a first step in helping us achieve this goal,” Dr. Barker said.

 For interview requests, call 0439 628 898 or email media@ava.com.au.

About the Zoetis Foundation

The Zoetis Foundation supports communities and the people who care for animals, with a specific focus on advancing opportunities for veterinarians and farmers around the world. The Foundation’s grantmaking and strategic efforts provide access to education and mental wellness resources, expand veterinary debt relief, support diversity and inclusion efforts, and enable thriving livelihoods by funding programs that help veterinary practices and farmers adopt sustainable business practices. To learn more about the Foundation, please visit: www.zoetisfoundation.org.