Licensing of Veterinarians
Ratification Date: 20 Jul 2023
State and territory veterinary registration boards are the legislated authorities to regulate veterinary professional conduct. Veterinarians should not be subject to disciplinary proceedings for matters of professional conduct under any other licensing regime.
All veterinarians practising in Australia are required to be registered with a veterinary registration board and to comply with veterinary practice and other relevant legislation in each jurisdiction. Through this registration, veterinarians are robustly regulated and held to account for their actions. Any alleged breach of professional conduct is subject to investigation and may result in a range of remedial actions by the board including direction to undertake specific professional or personal development and reflective practice activities, imposing conditions on the practitioner’s registration for a period of time, fines, suspension, or where high continued risk exists, removal of a veterinarian’s right to practice.
Veterinary boards assessing the professional conduct of veterinarians include members with veterinary understanding and expertise as well as community members who represent clients’ expectations. Having veterinary registration boards as the only disciplinary bodies for veterinarians removes the potential for duplication of investigations and penalties, and ensures those regulating the work of veterinarians have the necessary skills and expertise.
Australian Veterinary Association members also abide by the association’s Code of Professional Conduct which sets standards for veterinary practice based on community expectations and professional ethics.
Many veterinarians also participate in postgraduate accreditation schemes that demonstrate their additional skills and competencies. Examples include the Accreditation Program for Australian Veterinarians (APAV), Australian Government Accredited Veterinarians (AAVs) and the Australian Cattle Veterinarians’ National Cattle Pregnancy Diagnosis Scheme (PREGCHECKTM) and Bull Breeding Soundness Evaluation Scheme (BULLCHECKTM). Veterinarians are also required to obtain licensing or accreditation for use of ionising radiation, microchipping and various other aspects of their work.
Any licensing or accrediting of veterinarians to perform specific roles or procedures should be limited to consideration of technical competency applicable to the scheme. These schemes should clearly set out and assess the particular skills necessary for accreditation, and have scope for revocation of accreditation for failure to maintain the requisite level of competency. These schemes should provide for a veterinarian to be excluded for a serious transgression of competency. However, matters relating to potential negligence, inappropriate or unprofessional conduct or misconduct should be referred to the relevant state or territory veterinary registration board. Veterinary registration legislation requirements must always take precedence over potentially contradictory requirements of any other accreditation scheme.