ACT Division President’s Update

30 Aug 2023

Isn’t it great to see more sunshine and to have some warmer days (pity about the weeds and the mowing!)

The ACT Animal Welfare Advisory Committee asked for comment on four proposed / updated codes for small mammals - Codes of Practice for the Keeping and Breeding of Ferrets in the ACT, and for Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, and Rats and Mice (Rodents). Although the AVA’s Unusual Pets and Avian Group took the lead on the AVA’s response on these Codes, you Division Committee provided extensive and informed comment on each of the Codes. Please contact Senior Advocacy Officer Liz Gemes if you would like to see the draft Codes or to read our comments.

Dr Amanda-Lee Chapman has been a hardworking member, of and Division representative to, the AVA’s Policy Advisory Council for many years. The PIC forms working groups to write new and update existing Policies, with members committing for just one year (renewable). There are wide range of interesting policies up for consideration and you can find out more or volunteer to join a working group here.

The AVA has been through a lot of changes in the last couple of years triggered by an extensive members survey to gauge our desired focus and path forward for the Association, and to manage financial constraints. It has been painful within the organisation and at times difficult for committees, but we are blessed with enormously patient and forgiving support staff who worked hard on your behalf and to keep your Committee on the straight and narrow.

The most recent change that we have yet to negotiate is that the Board has re-focused the roles of Divisions and Branches. Divisions are State and Territory based, while Branches are more local area based-groups of vets in a given geographical area who choose to get together for social and CPD type events. Even, small Divisions like the ACT had both the ACT Division and the ACT and Region Branch (thanks to John Asley Davis and Kevin Doyle for this information). The ACT Branch was dissolved many years ago as it was seen as unnecessary, and regional members have been invited and welcomed by the ACT Division ever since.

The Board has released a new Statement of Purpose for Divisions and Branches.

The role of the Division is to be the public face of the Association at the local level, with its primary role advocacy, member engagement and support. Division can run social events for all members, to foster collegiality and support each other. But from now on, Divisions will not be able to organise and run CPD events for members – this role has been passed on to Branches.

That means that we vets in the ACT will need to form a Branch to access the resources of the AVA in organising and hosting CPD events. For a branch to be allowed by the AVA Board, seven members must be signatories to a formation document, and only one of those can be a member of the Division Committee. Further information is available here. Because the form “must be completed in one sitting” and needs the full name, AVA member number and email address for the seven (7) current and financial members (within our general geographical area – a branch can cross State / Territory boundaries), I propose that interested members email me with these details so that one person can then complete the form. Your Division Committee will then decide which of its members should fact as the formal link between the Division and the Branch.

This sounds like an onerous process, but hopefully once it is complete, local vets can enjoy regular CPD events organised by AVA.

ACT Election – AVA Election Platform
The ACT is holding an election in 2024. For every National, State and Territory Election, AVA develops a platform of issues relevant to local members as well as issues of wider importance. This forms the basis of “lobbying’ to each of the political parties and candidates. This is the time to get our concerns aired - for example, support to attract more veterinary staff to the ACT (and district), the apparently damaging rules preventing legitimate parties from desexing and re-releasing street cats back into their environment in the ACT – this risks increasing the number of street cats because no-one is trying to prevent them from breeding.

What do you think is important? What can we as a community of veterinarians, in all forms of employment, take to our local politicians in the interest of animal health and welfare and for the benefit of all in our profession (vets in practice and in other roles, nurses, receptionists etc). Please email your issues to

ACT Division is in the process of developing a CPD event with the ACT Veterinarian, but I can’t announce a date yet. Just look forward to practicing getting dressed up in a good cause.

We have a combined event with the Highlands branch, meeting for dinner in Goulburn on 5 October – Charlie, Zac and others from that branch have done all the hard work, but we get to join in! The speakers are Drs Kim Cleary and Sasha Chapman, Internal Medicine Residents at ARH, and they’re speaking on Addison’s Disease. I heard them speaking on “Cushion’s Disease” at the AVA new Grad / New to Canberra event at ARH some months ago, and I can assure you they are very good value for money! Having just diagnosed an Addison’s case which presented with hypo-glycaemia, I know there is always more to learn.

We have been holding a few small meetings for our equine colleagues over the last 12 months, and the next one is a night of Equine Dermatology with Specialist Dr Dani Hoolahan (who lives in Murrumbateman). The meeting is for equine vets, but please email me if you’re interested as we may have space to welcome you if you’re interested. Thursday, 12 October from 7.30 PM, at Gungahlin Veterinary Hospital. You must book if you want to come – email me! (contact below).

And feel free to contact me at any time with questions, suggestions, or concerns.

With very best wishes
Michael Hayward
ACT Division President
0418 625 321