MV Bahijah Incident Highlights the Essential Role of Veterinarians. Peak Veterinary Body Calls For Action To Address Decline in Livestock Veterinarians

08 Feb 2024

Recent events involving animals onboard the MV Bahijah have clearly demonstrated the essential nature of veterinarians in protecting the health and welfare of Australia’s livestock and upholding Australia’s biosecurity status - top priorities of all involved in managing the animals onboard MV Bahijah.

When live animal export occurs the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) has the expectation that Australian accredited veterinarians are engaged in all aspects of the export activities. 

“Veterinarians have been involved in inspecting animals at various stages during the export process, there is a registered veterinarian on board the MV Bahijah, and government veterinarians oversee the process.  The veterinary presence has been called out by numerous groups demonstrating the essential role and critical importance of veterinarians in protecting Australia’s biosecurity and animal industries” said the AVA President, Dr Diana Barker.

However, there is a decline in the number of veterinarians working in the livestock sector and this poses a significant ongoing risk to Australia’s animal welfare and the agricultural sector.

Recognising this issue, in its prebudget submission the AVA is calling for Commonwealth Government assistance to support veterinarians in building and retaining the rural veterinary workforce.

“This is a major issue for our profession and in our prebudget submission we are asking the Commonwealth Government to assist by giving regional veterinarians the same incentives given to human health professions that work rurally,” said Dr Diana Barker.

“Initiatives such as educational fee relief and inclusion of the veterinary sector into existing schemes that support essential services should be considered,” said Dr Barker.

The AVA also urges the government to consider further support for veterinarians to deliver their biosecurity obligations. These obligations include passive surveillance for exotic animal diseases, diagnostic services and reporting responsibilities. These are services that benefit the whole community and allow Australia to maintain its freedom from many endemic diseases and uphold community animal welfare expectations.

For more information on the AVA’s prebudget submission click here

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