AVA President's report from Warwick Vale - February 2022

04 Mar 2022

It feels like a long time has passed since I managed to take some brief leave over Christmas and New Year. It was nice and refreshing to spend time with my family and take a break from work and AVA on a short trip to Margaret River. It was an especially novel break for me – the first time in over 33 years I had taken holidays over the Xmas/New Year period – ahh…. the lifestyle of a large animal practitioner. I hope that my colleagues and their families are enjoying their summer as much as I am.

On the AVA front, it's been all action and activity. AVA is progressing well with its restructure. The establishment of the advocacy team staffing framework is complete, with the final pieces of the puzzle (the AVA Advocacy Advisory Committee) being appointed in February. It has been very pleasing to see the engagement and new processes AVA undertakes to deliver on its advocacy agenda and strategy for its members and the profession. I have a great deal of confidence in the new structures and staffing team in place. They will build on the historical success that AVA has had over many years. AVA is currently addressing membership concerns in the S4 re-scheduling of lignocaine and meloxicam products in the production animal veterinary space.

Our new CEO, David Andrews will be starting in March, and soon we will be saying goodbye to Stephen Albins. Stephen has been working very hard in the interim CEO position and has managed to achieve many good things whilst in this role. Now the management and Board will turn even greater attention to the Membership and Education components of the restructure, Constitutional Reform, and our new Strategic Plan.

COVID-19 is still playing havoc with our lives; many eastern states practices have been affected by staff shortages, staff sickness and supply chain problems. COVID close contact restrictions created severe hardship for some practices, and we saw extraordinary closures and reductions of services in some practices as a results of staff shortages and workload burnout. Supply chain issues have also affected veterinary services.

AVA have advocated most strongly that all veterinary practices should be considered as highly impacted essential services by the Omicron COVID pandemic . Our position is that the whole vet profession is highly impacted by COVID and should be deemed a critical industry. Animal welfare is suffering, thus the AVA implored Governments to modify their public health orders to recognise veterinary services as a critical industry.

The AVA was very successful at advocating for the consideration and classification of their “close contact” staff by most state governments. All veterinary services are deemed essential and now all states with the exception of QLD are recognising that all vet services are highly impacted by the Omicron variant. This means in all states except QLD veterinary teams have the flexibility to manage asymptomatic close contacts to ensure veterinary services can continue to be delivered.

AVA is progressing with its new wellness strategy, and is anticipating to make some announcements around the strategy, its planned services, business plan and actions very soon.

AVA is committed this year to a return to face to face (F2F) events and conferences. All Groups and Divisions are excited to finally believe that it seems that our lack of F2F conferences is close to an end, and they can get back to delivering world class F2F CPD, social bonding and meeting with friends, colleagues and mates. AVA Conference Registration is now open, with an excellent program of lectures, plenaries, workshops and get togethers. It has been over two years since our last AVA Conference Event – please come along!

I look forward to see many of you there on the Gold Coast in May.