Roma Veterinary Clinic and Charleville Vet Surgery joins calls for veterinary student debt support

01 Dec 2023

Dr Will Nason from Roma Veterinary Clinic and Dr Courtney Scott from Charleville Vet Surgery are calling on Senator for Queensland and Minister for Agriculture Murray Watt to take urgent action to address the veterinary workforce shortage in rural Queensland.

The Roma Veterinary Clinic employs nine vets and Charleville Vet Surgery employs three fulltime vets, together supports the community in a region much larger than Tasmania.

Veterinary clinics across Australia are closing down due to workforce shortages, and employers are seeking Government action. Without these veterinarians and clinics, there would be significant impacts on the state’s capacity in disease response.

“Two thirds of our work is in herd health and disease surveillance, but we’re just stretched too thin,” said Dr Nason, “if we could find the vets, there is enough demand to easily expand our vet workforce by 50%.”

“We’re recruiting at the moment and could take two more vets, but it will likely be well into 2024 before we find a vet who is willing to make the move out west,” said Dr Scott.

Australian Veterinary Association President, Dr Diana Barker, said more needed to be done by the Australian Government and called for a rural HELP Forgiveness Scheme to assist.

“Demand for veterinary services in our communities continues to grow, but if we don’t support the workforce we could see the entire profession collapse,” Dr Barker said.

“Rural and regional Queensland has a rich and vibrant agriculture sector that relies on veterinary services to ensure animals are healthy and disease-free.

“But that is at risk without urgent assistance from the Government.

“We have been told time and time again by the Government that veterinarians are important – but we are yet to see any policies that reflect that position.”

Dr Barker said that in 2022, the gross value of livestock was approximately $35 billion, of which $15.3 billion was from the cattle industry. The HELP Forgiveness Scheme would cost just $4.8 million a year for four years, and wipe the HELP debt of 80 graduates each year.

“We have asked Education Minister Jason Clare to commit to a rural HELP Forgiveness Scheme but he has deferred any decisions on this until 2025,” Dr Barker said.

“That is too late – our regional communities need vets now.

“That’s why we are calling on Senator for Queensland and Minister for Agriculture Murray Watt to take action and ensure Queenslanders can continue to access the essential services provided by vets.”