ACT Division President Report - May

31 May 2023

Dear colleagues and friends,
I’m writing this from the AVA Conference in grey and drizzly Adelaide. It’s fortunate the company is great and the program engaging!

For me, the conference started with a a Council of Presidents meeting on Sunday morning, where we discussed the next round of changes for the AVA Constitution, which will likely centre around the improving the facility of the Board. Our Constitution is old, and needs to be brought up to date to reflect various changes in how modern Board’s operate -for example, at the moment only Members can stand for Board election. The appointment of non-members (non-vets with special skills deemed necessary by the Board would improve Board functioning and hence the future of the organisation.

An immediate example of this was that Stage 1 changes to the Constitution were approved by a greater than 75% majority of members at the AGM on Monday night - these simple changes allowed us to hold an “on-line” AGM and to distribute relevant materials for the AGFM electronically.

Sunday afternoon saw me attending the AVA “THRIVE” session with my practice manager. This initiative of the AVA represents a very large investment in money and manpower (both staff but especially volunteers) to provide members and other vets with the information, skills and enthusiasm to improve the mental health and psychological safety of all in our industry. The word Industry is deliberately chosen, because we recognise that we are not just a profession of vets but we work as teams with a whole host of other skilled and passionate people - cleaners, managers, fellow office staff, animal handlers, veterinary nurses, finance staff, abattoir staff, receptionists, and the list goes on. Our industry in all its manifestations suffers from similar stresses and challenges, and in addition to working hard to improve the number of available, skilled staff in all these and other roles, the VA is tackling the problem from the inside by helping us all to cope better with the stresses inherent on our job, workplace and interactions with the community.

Find our more here

The AVA Conference is about catching up with friends, networking, exploring the very extensive trade display, and, of course, education. The challenge and the joy of the AVA conference is that there are so many concurrent streams delivering so much relevant and interesting information. And it’s no holiday!

For many, it starts before 7am with hosted breakfasts delivering CPD. Lectures commence at 8am, and finish at 6pm, and most days there 7.5 hours lectures or meetings, with morning and afternoon tea and lunch in the trade display.

What can a day include?


  • Treatment of acute and chronic diarrhoea in cats and dogs – role of diet
  • Applying the medical model to behaviour cases
  • Reading body language ands assessing patient comfort in the clinic.
  • Plenary Gilruth Oration (Dr Kersti Seksel) followed by International workforce challenges
  • Animal Welfare – does Australia lag or lead?
  • Considering welfare in dog equipment (leads collars harnesses) choices
  • Evidence based diagnosis – some tools to practice it!


  • Feline dental disease – more than just extractions
  • Pets, SARS-CoV-2 and Covid19
  • How Covid has impacted pets as we go back to work
  • Influencing antimicrobial stewardship through education and social media
  • Incivility, conflict and the great resignation -using emotional agility to protect your team and business
  • Toxoplasma in Australian sheep – what we know and still need to know
  • Managing dogs that are worried about noise
  • Interpretation of diagnostic tests for infectious diseases

The AVA’s highest award, the Gilruth prize, was awarded to Dr Kirsti Seksel for her role in effectively founding the science of veterinary behavioural medicine in Australia – she is a worthy winner, and one of the first to be awarded the prize who works with small animals. She may also be the first female to win the award? I haven’t checked that. AVA is experimenting with live captioning on screen during all the talks, and on screen, right behind her head, she was announced as Dr Kirsti Sexual – you can imagine the laughter.

What’s your thing? Horses? Pocket pets? Governance? Dentistry? Welfare? Business? Small animals? Cattle? Sheep and or camelids? The list goes on, and it’s all here – come to an AVA Conference – soon!


Equine Vets

Division has been trying to support our colleagues who care for horses, and have hosted two meetings for them. The next meeting is intended to be a CPD event with the wonderful Dr Dand Hoolahan, Veterinary Specialist Dermatologist, almost certainly Thursday 8th June. Horse vets – watch your emails for confirmation and details.

Michael Hayward BVSc FAVA
ACT Division President