Getting vets back to the bush

29 Mar 2022

The AVA is calling on the Federal Government to invest money in helping graduate vets stay in regional areas.
31% of practices advertising for vets are taking 12 months or longer to fill vacancies.

THE AUSTRALIAN VETERINARY ASSOCIATION (AVA) is calling on the Federal Government to invest $13.6m over five years in helping graduate vets stay in regional areas, ahead of tonight's Budget.

The AVA proposal, which was published in the AVA Pre-Budget submission, would see the Australian Government introduce a rural placement incentives scheme for graduate veterinarians to assist in the shortage of rural veterinarians – that will in turn, improve access to veterinary services and private surveillance performed by private veterinarians to sustain adequate biosecurity levels.

The Rural Bonding Scheme proposed by the AVA involves:

  • Providing financial incentives for graduate vets to work in rural and regional Australia
  • HECs debt forgiveness for graduate vets working in regional areas
  • A proposal similar to that currently offered to medical graduates
  • Addressing workforce shortage issues faced by veterinary practices in rural and regional Australia.
  • An expected cost of $13.6m over 5 years.

In 2021, the AVA conducted a Workforce Survey which showed that 31% of practices advertising for vets are taking 12 months or longer to fill vacancies. This is in the face of an unprecedented growth in pet ownership in Australia, which has risen by over 20% since 2019.

“Veterinary practices across the country are struggling to find veterinarians and this is even harder in rural and remote areas,” said Dr Cristy Secombe, AVA Head of Veterinary and Public Affairs.

“The veterinary sector needed help before COVID-19, but with the further impacts of the pandemic, financial support is crucial to the recovery of the workforce,” said Dr Secombe. 

“Without veterinarians in rural and remote areas - including Australia’s borders - the risk of serious and deadly diseases infecting animals and, in some cases the human population, is dramatically increased. We only need to look at the recent Japanese Encephalitis Virus outbreak and high risk of Lumpy Skin Disease entering Australia to reiterate the importance of strong biosecurity, and veterinarians are part of a strong biosecurity network,” said Dr Secombe

“A rural bonding scheme, similar to that offered to medical graduates, would be a strong incentive for early career vets to fill non-metropolitan positions.”

Other key budget recommendations from the AVA Pre-Budget Submission are:

  • Increases mental health support for veterinary professionals
  • Fundings for veterinary care of animals in disaster situations
  • Establishment of a framework for disease control
  • Development of an antimicrobial resistance surveillance system

The full AVA Pre-budget submission can be downloaded here

2022-23 Federal Budget Submission

Find out more about the AVA's Federal Budget Submission.