Advocacy and Policy Update December 2023/January 2024

09 Feb 2024

Well, 2023 was another busy year for the AVA, and a moment was taken to reflect on the activities of 2023 before we dive into 2024. The activities of the VPA team can be divided into policy development and renewal, proactive advocacy and responsive advocacy. Read more here.

Image: Summary of the work undertaken by the AVA in 2023

This year the AVA has appointed two highly qualified people to the newly created Senior Manager of Government Relations role. Dr Sam McMahon, former Federal Senator, and Dr Bronwyn Orr, former AVA President, will work together to further the AVA’s advocacy agenda, primarily at a federal level.

Dr McMahon has an extensive network of senior politicians across all parties and knows in detail how the political process operates at the highest levels. Dr Orr has recently left the federal public service but still has many colleagues in the system and has sat on the other side of the table. It is envisaged that together, their skills and experience will accelerate the AVA’s advocacy agenda.


Key Policy Advisory Council activities

Policy Advisory Council (PAC) currently has 20 Working Groups focusing on updating older policies and those where the science is rapidly changing, in preparation for PAC’s face-to-face meeting in May this year. Five policies completed last year are being prepared for Board consideration at their February meeting. Each SIG and Division PAC representative will soon consult with their groups so that they can report back to PAC in May on priority policy updates and/or any emerging issues from their respective groups. These will help to inform policy development to underpin advocacy efforts.

You can review the full list and status of AVA policies here.


Key advocacy activities (National):

Since the last update, the AVA has made 10 submissions on a variety of issues using our policies as a foundation including the following national submissions:

  • Prebudget submission – The submission focusses on workforce sustainability and capacity, animal welfare, improved data collection, and securing the next generation of veterinarians. The summary of recommendations and the full submission can be read here.
  • Submission of the Draft of the updated threat abatement plan for predation by feral cats.
  • Submission on the Draft AHC Policy on “The proposed use of microencapsulated sodium (meSN®) for the destruction of domestic pigs in an emergency animal disease response”: AVA policy team, in consultation with subject matter experts from Australian Pig Veterinarians (APV) and the Australian Veterinarians in Animal Welfare and Ethics (AVAWE), placed a submission to the national Animal Health Committee (AHC), providing feedback on their draft policy around the use of microencapsulated sodium nitrite (meSN®) for the destruction of domestic pigs in an emergency animal disease (EAD) response. The AHC's policy will be used to inform the updating of the AUSVETPLAN Destruction Manual, currently underway. AVA is also part of the AUSVETPLAN Manual update process (see below under “Value of the Profession”).
  • Submission to ANZSCO around a classification of the occupation of veterinarian.

As with all AVA submissions we have been assisted with the valuable expertise of a diverse range of members and we thank them for their assistance in all submissions, national and state or territory based.


Value of the profession

Ensuring veterinary technical input to national processes

This is a ‘business as usual’ activity: Examples of work that was undertaken in December include:

  • Standards Australia – pet food and microchip standards
  • National Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines, with the current focus on Standards for Livestock at Processing Facilities.
  • Engagement of Private Veterinary Practitioners in EAD responses – Phase 2
Workforce sustainability and wellbeing
  • The AVA contributed to the workshop “Pathway to veterinary nurse/veterinary technician regulation” led by the AVBC in December to discuss how regulation could be progressed in this area.
  • The AVA developed a resource for AVA members to utilise for communicating a balanced insight and provide perspective around the cost of veterinary care. Read more here.
  • The AVA (through the advoacy team and the Veterinary Business Group) attended the national roundtable discussion about social veterinary work hosted by Cherished Pets and RSCPA in Victoria.

Key advocacy activities (Divisions):


  • ACT new Code of Practice for the Welfare of Cats – the Division reviewed and provided feedback.
  • The AVA met with the ACT Veterinary Practitioners Board to discuss AVA advocacy activities and priorities, AVA initiatives, and upcoming legislative reviews impacting ACT veterinarians.


  • Pet census – Pet census data collected by the Victorian government - The AVA commends the Victorian Government for taking a proactive stance in addressing data gaps in pet ownership through the recently released key findings from the state-wide pet census.
  • Victorian Emergency Animal Welfare Plan - The Victorian Division of the AVA continues to be involved in the Victorian Emergency Animal Welfare Plan to assist the Victorian Government in times of emergency. This includes collaboration with Vets Beyond Borders to assist in fulfilling emergency roles in the Victorian Emergency Animal Welfare Plan.
  • Duck Hunting - The Victorian division has been advocating for the Victorian Government’s Select Committee Enquiry findings into recreational native bird hunting to be upheld and duck hunting banned in Victoria, to bring Victoria in line with Queensland, NSW & WA. The campaign by other key stakeholders such as RSPCA and Wildlife Victoria is additionally strengthening the cause for a move toward prioritising animal welfare Victoria.
  • Domestic Animal Regulations 2015 - These sunset in 2025. The AVA Victorian Division provided a submission to Animal Welfare Victoria to assist in the process of the new regulations to be improved and modernised.
  • Animal Health & Welfare Emergency Order – The Victorian Division assisted in the consultation to address animal health and welfare in emergencies.
  • Pig welfare in Victoria - The AVA policy team put together a multi-stakeholder submission to an inquiry into farmed pig welfare in Victoria undertaken by the Victorian Legislative Council. We thank our subject matter experts from the Australian Pig Veterinarians (APV), the Australian Veterinarians in Animal Welfare and Ethics (AVAWE), and the Victorian Division, for their input.


  • Livestock Processing Taskforce - This task force is in place to strengthen animal welfare in Tasmanian abattoirs. The Tasmanian Division have ascertained that there will be veterinary representation on this Taskforce.



  • 2023 QLD Advocacy wrap up - click here for a summary of the AVA Advocacy work that was undertaken at QLD Division level in 2023.
  • Northern Australia Coordination Network – a project is being undertaken investigating the on-surge capacity of veterinary services in the event of an EAD incursion in Northern Australia. The AVA provided a range of feedback that spoke to the importance of maintaining veterinary business viability in these areas.


  • 2023 WA Advocacy wrap up- click here for a summary of the AVA Advocacy work that was undertaken at WA Division level in 2023.
  • WA Animal Care Skills Network - AVA Senior Advocacy Officer, Robyn Whitaker, attended an Animal Care Skills Network meeting that reports to the WA Government. The AVA communicated the challenges facing veterinarians and nursing teams, and outlined that retention is the aspect that requires most assistance, rather than an increased supply to the workforce. Utilisation of allied support services and paraprofessionals was discussed, especially the need for this to be undertaken in a managed and regulated manner. The need for regulation of the animal training and behaviour sector was also flagged. The need for government support for the public good that veterinarians provide, especially for the care of injured wildlife, was highlighted.
  • Northern Australia Coordination Network – a project is being undertaken investigating the on-surge capacity of veterinary services in the event of an EAD incursion in Northern Australia. The AVA provided a range of feedback that spoke to the importance of maintaining veterinary business viability in these areas.


  • 2023 NT Advocacy wrap up - Click here for a summary of the AVA Advocacy work that was undertaken at NT Division level in 2023.
  • Northern Australia Coordination Network – a project is being undertaken investigating the on-surge capacity of veterinary services in the event of an EAD incursion in Northern Australia. The AVA provided a range of feedback that spoke to the importance of maintaining veterinary business viability in these areas.

Key advocacy activities (Special Interest Groups):

Veterinary Business Group (VBG)

  • Authorised duties of a veterinary nurse across states resource - draft documentation regarding the authorised duties of a veterinary nurse across states has been developed in collaboration with The Animal Academy and AVBC. Watch this space for its release.

Australian Greyhound Working & Sporting Dog Veterinarians (AGWSDV)

  • The Group’s President and Scientific Officer are responding to a request from the Veterinary Surgeons Board of South Australia to provide information on standards that may be available regarding care/treatment of greyhounds prior to any surgery given their predisposition to fibrinolytic syndrome. A response is being prepared for the SA Board.

Equine Veterinarians Australia (EVA)

  • The AVA received a letter from a Member of the WA Parliament, Ms Lisa Baker MLA, with regard to welfare concerns involving the use of Tongue Ties in racehorses. An evidence-based letter has been drafted in response.
  • The AVA was represented at the Commonwealth Government’s “Horse Industry Consultative Committee.” Major issues covered included: Japanese encephalitis vaccination, equine viral arteritis surveillance and country freedom, and expansion of equine quarantine facilities.

Production Animal Special Interest Groups

  • Meetings continue around the country regarding EAD preparedness and the AVA is participating in many of these.
  • The fourth National Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) Action Plan Progress Report was considered by the ACV Executive Committee and endorsed without change. This report covers activities between August – October 2023.
  • ACV Executive participated in DAFF consultation on the importance and necessity of oestradiol use for breeding cattle in context of market access negotiations with the UK.

Australian Veterinarians for Animal Welfare and Ethics (AVAWE)/Australian Veterinary Conservation Biology Group (AVCB)

  • Feral cat management - The AVA, through AVAWE and AVCB prepared a submission on the draft updated threat abatement plan for predation by feral cats.

Australian Pig Veterinarians (APV)

  • Pig Welfare - The AVA through APV and AVAWE prepared a submission for the Inquiry into Pig Welfare in Victoria.

Unusual Pet and Avian Veterinarians (UPAV)

  • Guidelines for dentistry in non-dog and cat companion species – UPAV are currently drafting guidelines to provide guidance to veterinarians managing dental health in companion species other than dogs and cats. This process is being managed through PAC.

Australian Veterinary Behavioural Medicine (AVBM)

  • Aggression in dogs’ policy and Dangerous dogs - a sensible solution resource – AVBM is working to update the policy through a PAC working group and is in agreement that the resource requires updating.

Australian Small Animal Veterinarians (ASAV)

  • Prepubertal Desexing in Cats – ASAV has identified this as a key advocacy area of focus in Q1 of 2024. An article on Pre-Pubertal desexing in cats is currently being written and will be included in the first edition of Companion magazine coming out in March. Further advocacy efforts will be developed after release of WSAVA’s Reproduction Cats and Dogs Guidelines document.
  • Use of brachycephalic images in advertising - ASAV have determined a key area of focus is around reigniting the campaign regarding use of brachycephalic images in advertising.


The year ahead is looking very positive indeed as we continue to roll out the Cultivating Safe Teams pilot program, embrace our industry specific mental health and suicide prevention framework, and deliver both online and face-to-face wellness events to all veterinary team members.

We have a great line up of CPD planned for 2024, including online webinars, Mental Health First Aid training and our second THRIVE Veterinary Wellness Symposium.

Our symposium, facilitated by Rosie Overfield, is an interactive and dynamic day, and suitable for all members of the veterinary team. You will walk away with new knowledge, new skills, and new connections that will make a direct difference to the effectiveness and wellbeing of you and your team.

As with all THRIVE activities, we are using an integrated wellness framework to underpin our learning deliverables: Preventing mental health injury from psychosocial hazards in the industry, Promoting the positive aspects of work as well as worker strengths and Protecting individuals who are experiencing mental ill-health so they can return to work and thrive.

THRIVE is committed to supporting veterinarians and veterinary staff to lead satisfying, prosperous and healthy careers.


As always, we welcome any feedback you have around our updates - please email We encourage you to read more about AVA Veterinary Policy and Advocacy here. As always, we encourage you to get involved to provide input into activities the AVA is commenting on or undertaking.

Best Wishes,

Cristy Secombe, Graham Pratt, Melanie Latter, Monika Cole and Jeffrey Wilkinson, on behalf of the Veterinary Policy and Advocacy team and the Special Interest Groups team.