Veterinary skills shortage recognised in the Australian Universities Accord final report

27 Feb 2024

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) welcomes acknowledgment in the Australian Universities Accord final report that it is essential to increase the skilled rural workforce in the veterinary profession to ensure that all Australian communities enjoy the benefits of good animal health and welfare, and this starts at university.

Australian accreditation standards require veterinary students to undertake 950 hours of placement outside teaching periods, which exceeds the requirements of many other degrees.  'Placement poverty’ affects veterinary students and prevents many students from undertaking placements rurally and regionally due to the costs incurred.  If provided with opportunities to see practice rurally, there is evidence that students will return to work in rural and regional locations.    

“The veterinary profession is a key care profession that is experiencing a skills shortage, and the AVA urges the Government to provide financial support for veterinary students undertaking placements because the profession can not afford to.  We know that government subsidies such as those from the Northern Australia Biosecurity Strategy are the only way many students can afford to see the benefits of remote rural practice.” said AVA President, Dr Diana Barker.

The AVA has made several recommendations in its prebudget submission related to new graduates and veterinary education.

“In our prebudget submission, we are calling for the Commonwealth Government to expand their educational fee forgiveness scheme for doctors, nurses and teachers to veterinarians, as they too are providing an essential service” said Dr Barker.

The AVA welcomes the recognition in the Australian Universities Accord final report that the current funding model results in the underfunding of veterinary degrees.

In its prebudget submission, the AVA is calling for the Commonwealth Government to support the recommendation of the Veterinary Education Review by the Veterinary Schools of Australia and New Zealand, to increase funding for each veterinary student by a least 30%.

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

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The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is the national professional association representing all veterinarians in Australia.