AVA President's report from Warwick Vale - December 2021

06 Dec 2021

As time fast closes in on Christmas, and the end of 2021, it becomes increasingly apparent to me, not only how fast this year has gone, but also, just how much we, as a profession, have managed to achieve under difficult circumstances, and how much more we can do. 

I reflect on the events which the AVA has hosted this year, and the enormous headway that has been made as we work towards a more sustainable future for our profession with a feeling of gratitude – something I am actively trying to do more these days.  

Science has proven that being grateful makes us happier. The great Roman statesman Cicero called gratitude not only the greatest of virtues but the “parent” of them all. The Greek philosopher Aristotle argued that we become what we habitually do, thus by changing our habits, we can become more thankful human beings. 

I am grateful that I have been entrusted by our profession, to serve and to lead as AVA President. I am grateful for the many things that this role brings to my life. The AVA is evolving, and excelling in ways that will produce tangible benefits for all veterinarians. Through the combined efforts of the profession, AVA staff and members, the AVA has achieved many great things in 2021; 

The AVA has successfully galvanised the profession nationally, in discussing and workshopping the major issues of veterinary workforce and wellness. Ground-breaking research and investigation undertaken by the AVA and its key partner in veterinary wellness, SuperFriend. This major project for 2021, has delivered what is perhaps the most pertinent and telling insight into both the professional, and industry specific risk factors for poor mental health and workforce attrition for Australian veterinarians. To optimise our mental health, we must “Prevent, Promote, and Protect”. This phrase embraces everything that the AVA must strive to resource, grow and deliver for our profession. Our 2022 – 2024 strategic direction will be driven by this goal. 

The AVA has ensured that our voices remain heard. It has provided support, advice, and services that have helped our veterinary businesses to remain viable during periods of lockdown, border closure and COVID vaccination mandates. The AVA has helped our veterinary practitioners, and their staff to stay safe and remain engaged in delivering essential pet and animal health and welfare services to our communities. 

Through the use of technology and innovation, the AVA has still managed to celebrate its centennial year, despite the many restrictions that have prevented our initial plans from being put into action. Some of us were afforded the luxury of small face-to-face events, others participated in hybrid and virtual educational and social get togethers. At all of these events over the past year, high quality CPD has been provided and enjoyed by thousands of veterinarians.  

The AVA has launched and promoted new initiatives to help veterinarians in their workplaces and careers - delivering the leadership and support that our profession needs in order to thrive (AVA Employer of Choice, AVA Return to Work and AVA Chartered Veterinary Practitioner). 

The AVA has been there for our members affected by floods and bushfires across the country. During these times of great need, AVA members engaged with their communities to help each other and affected animals. Our 100-year history of rising to meet the challenges created by crisis and disaster shows no sign of waning or irrelevance. 

I am grateful for all of the work, knowledge and effort that has been put in by AVA staff and AVA members, which has ultimately facilitated the successes of the last year. I wish you all a very safe and Merry Xmas with your friends, family, colleagues and staff, and I look forward to working with you all in the year ahead.