Advocacy update - April/May 202203 Jun 2022
The AVA conference was last week, and what a week it was. It was so wonderful to all come together, put faces to names and see people in three dimensions. The week really reinforced the importance of community and collegiality, and there was a general feeling of positiveness and hopefulness for the future.
Key advocacy updates for April/May 2022
Value of the Profession
- Emergency Animal Diseases - as you are aware there are multiple emergency animal diseases that are of current concern. Numerous industry and government working groups or task forces are in operation for these diseases, and the AVA has provided representation of subject matter experts on a number of these. We are also communicating up-to-date information as it comes to hand.
- TGA decision on scheduling of injectable meloxicam – the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has announced the final decision and injectable meloxicam will not be rescheduled. Once again, thank you to everyone who assisted in and made submissions to the TGA on this topic. We expect to hear the outcome of the scheduling decisions on lidocaine and transmucosal meloxicam in June 2022.
- We encouraged you to get involved and feedback on the proposed amendments to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) Terrestrial Code:
- Thank you to those of you who utilised the 2022 Federal Election Platform to speak to your local members. We met with a range of stakeholders and released three media releases prior to the election. We are now working towards engaging with the new government to highlight the issues relevant to our profession.
- Public awareness of the Veterinary Profession project – member feedback and engagement with the committees has finished and we are in the process of collating feedback to further inform the strategy. We have also put out a request for tender to digital agencies to assist us with this project.
Workforce sustainability and wellbeing
- Competency framework project - in December 2021 the AVA, in collaboration with partnership organisations the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council (AVBC), Greencross, Apiam Animal Health and VetPartners, submitted a grant to the National Career Institute Partnership Grants Program to develop a holistic framework to career competency by describing an individual's skills, attitudes, and attributes based on knowledge and experience to enable individuals to practise in their preferred role at the level they are prepared for. Unfortunately the grant was not successful and at the recent Board meeting it was recommended that given the funding required to deliver the project in its entirety as well as limited internal resources, the project has been deferred. A review of the decision will be conducted within 12 months. In the meantime, other funding opportunities will be explored.
- Vocational educational training (VET) - Skills Impact are a training provider for paraprofessional and non-veterinary health workers through VET training. Prior to the election VET training was in a period of change whereby the previous Federal government was developing a new system to facilitate VET training. Skills Impact have tendered for the Agriculture and Food Production Industry Cluster which will include animal care. Given the AVA’s relationship with Skill impact, the AVA is advocating for involvement going forward for veterinary oversight on animal welfare standards and the standards of paraprofessionals that veterinarians will employ.
- Policy Advisory Council (PAC) Update – two groups of policies were presented at the recent PAC meeting at the AVA’s Annual Conference. A group of mature final drafts, which had undergone member comment and modification in response to feedback were presented. PAC voted to send some of these policies to the Board for ratification. The second group of pre-final drafts were presented for consideration and debate, and some of these will progress to member comment. We encourage you to engage in member comment once they become available.
Key advocacy activities (Divisions):
- There are concerns regarding the welfare of Indian Myna birds in several local councils in Victoria, through community trapping and presentation to veterinary hospitals for euthanasia. This is also causing ethical concern for veterinarians as Indian Mynas are not declared pest species. Meetings are continuing with the Municipal Council of Victoria that oversees local councils in Victoria.
- The Victorian Division Executive Committee of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) noted that the MAV/AVA Cat and Dog Reduced Fee Desexing Voucher Scheme was due for regular review. The Committee discussed the current Scheme at length and considered the Scheme in the context of current and emerging financial, workforce and mental health challenges facing the veterinary profession. Although the AVA is very supportive of mechanisms to provide no- or low-cost animal health services for increasing public compliance, we are of the opinion that the burden of providing those services needs to be more equitably shared across the community to balance the substantial benefits that individuals and the community receive from healthy pets in most Australian homes. For these reasons the Committee determined that the current Scheme requiring an additional financial contribution by the veterinarian, was no longer one that the AVA could support.
- The Agriculture Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 was introduced to the Victorian State Parliament. It included an amendment to remove the requirement for the President and Deputy President of the Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board of Victoria to be registered veterinarians. Once the AVA became aware of the potential change, Dr Hugh Millar (President, Victorian Division, AVA) and Dr Kristen Steele (Senior Advocacy, AVA) worked with the Minister and political parties to help them understand the detrimental impact that this would have on registered veterinarians and consequently on animal health and welfare in Victoria. The AVA argued that the experience required for those in these positions of leadership within the veterinary profession meant that it is important that the roles be filled by veterinarians. With wide support from the Minister and MPs, the AVA was successful in having this potential change stopped and retain the requirement for the President and Deputy President of the Vet Board be a registered veterinarian.
- The AVA continues to be involved as a stakeholder in discussions to consider the New Animal Welfare Act. An updated consultation plan will see further consultation prior to drafting the bill.
- The AVA represents veterinarians in the Wildlife Rehabilitation Sector Strategy Implementation Body, communicating that funding of veterinary care for wildlife is essential for animal welfare.
- The Division put forward a submission inquiry into puppy farming in NSW
- The Division put forward a submission to the inquiry into the use of primates and other animals in medical research in NSW
- The Division is developing a submission to the inquiry on the response to major flooding across NSW in 2022.
- The ACT Division is developing a submission to the Code of Practice for the welfare of horses in the ACT.
- We have put in a submission on the Draft Queensland Code of Professional Conduct. Historically the Board and the Profession in Queensland has used the AVA Code of Professional Conduct, and it has served the profession well. It also ensures that the document is regularly reviewed and remains in alignment with current professional practice. As such, it is the recommendation of the AVA that this practice continues.
- The QLD Division is preparing a submission to comment on the Queensland Animal care and protection bill. In recent years the Queensland Government have been reviewing this legislation. The AVA has had ongoing involvement in the review and has been successful in having amendments incorporated to provide registered veterinarians with the ability to euthanise animals on welfare grounds where the owner of the animal cannot be contacted.
- Following the change of Government in South Australia, the AVA met with the new Minister for Primary Industries. The meeting with the Minister was very productive with us discussing the regulation of the profession, the review of the Veterinary Practice Act, and the workforce challenges that we are currently facing.
- Over the coming months we will be working with the Minister’s office and PIRSA to progress the amendments to the legislation that we have been working towards over the past couple of years.
- The WA Division put forward its submission on the initial consultation around “acts of veterinary medicine” and, along with the ACV, has been involved in a stakeholder engagement meeting with the Department around pregnancy testing and spaying in cattle.
- The WA Veterinary Practice Act 2021 requires the AVA to put forward three recommendations for ministerial consideration to fill places on the new veterinary practice board. The WA division sought expressions of interest and made five recommendations for the minister to consider.
Key advocacy activities (Special Interest Groups):
Australian Cattle Veterinarians Cattle (ACV)
- ACV is representing the AVA on a number of working groups and task forces associated with both Lumpy Skin disease and Foot and Mouth disease preparedness, as well as providing comment on documentation that informs the response.
- The ACV is continuing to contribute to the AVA response around pregnancy testing and spaying of cattle in QLD and WA.
Equine Veterinarians Australia (EVA)
- The EVA have continued to contribute to the response to the Japanese Encephalitis outbreak.
Australian Pig Veterinarians (APV)
- THE APV have worked very hard advocating for timely JEV vaccination of vets working with pigs, along with contributing to the response.
Unusual Pet and Avian (UPAV)
- UPAV has been advocating for access to a rabbit haemorrhagic disease vaccination, which has not been available for some time. Pleasingly, it appears availability is going to improve in the near future.
Public Affairs Update
During April and May 2022, the AVA participated in a wide range of external stakeholder meetings, covering a range of issues from animal welfare, regulatory issues, workforce sustainability, and biosecurity including:
- Meeting with pharmaceutical companies to discuss analgesia
- Meeting with the Pet Industry network
- Meeting with the Chief Veterinary Officer of Australia
- Meeting with the CEO of National Farmers Federation and Animal Health Australia
- Participating in workshops including the future focused assessment of Australia’s Animal Biosecurity system and Animal Health Australia Industry forum workshops
Since the last report the AVA has featured in the media and social media regularly. The topics that the AVA has provided comment on are:
- Brachycephalic dogs
- Workforce sustainability
- Lidocaine rescheduling
- Rescheduling of lidocaine
- THRIVE – our mental health and wellbeing project
- Emergency Animal Disease
In early May, the AVA supplied some media training to Presidents of Divisions and Special Interest Groups. The intention of this was to provide some guidance around how to get the AVA message across in earned media.
A big thank you to the team and the participants in the video that was made to celebrate World Veterinary Day – it is a wonderful celebration of the great profession that we all work in.
We hope you are all staying safe in these challenging times and welcome any feedback you have around our updates, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Cristy, Graham, Melanie, and Jeffrey, on behalf of the Veterinary and Public Affairs team