Government’s response to the inquiry into the adequacy of Australia’s biosecurity measures and response preparedness22 Sep 2023
In September 2022 the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee initiated an inquiry into the adequacy of Australia’s biosecurity measures and response preparedness, in particular with respect to foot-and-mouth disease.
The AVA made a submission to the inquiry and the committee’s findings were published late last year. There were several recommendations that were of interest to the veterinary profession with the main one being recommendation 25:
The committee recommends that the Australian Government work with relevant industry bodies to design and implement measures to improve the capacity and capability of production animal veterinarians, particularly in rural and remote areas, including:
- enhancement of veterinarian attraction and retention strategies and initiatives such as graduate and rural practice incentives;
- compensation paid to veterinarians in the event of their involvement in an EAD response; and
- increased utilisation of rural and remote veterinarians in surveillance and monitoring activities.
The Government has provided a response to the recommendations made by the committee. Of particular interest to the veterinary profession is the response to recommendation 25.
- The Australian Government notes this recommendation.
- The Australian Government notes and acknowledges that the initiative to improve the capacity and capability of production animal veterinarians, particularly in rural and remote areas, is a broader challenge in the veterinary industry more generally.
- The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) has recently participated in, and contributed, to the Animal Health Committee taskforce which is reviewing the National framework for the engagement of private vets during an emergency animal disease response. This is an important initiative which provides a useful platform for engagement on these ongoing challenges.
- DAFF has also had recent engagement with the Department of Education who are closely monitoring the efficacy of the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) debt measures for teachers, and proposed measures for doctors and nurses, to determine whether these initiatives should be expanded to other critical professions such as veterinary science.
- DAFF has a particular interest in the strength of Australia's veterinary industry given the contribution this makes to biosecurity and agricultural productivity, and will continue to assist and engage with state and territory governments and the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) to enhance veterinarian attraction and retention strategies.
The AVA is contributing to the Animal Health Committee taskforce which is reviewing the National framework for the engagement of private veterinarians during an emergency animal disease response. We will continue to advocate for education fee relief and engage with DAFF to enhance veterinarian attraction and retention strategies.