Essential nature of veterinarians’ work ignored by Federal Government 

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veterinary university placements government funding
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The Federal Government has overlooked the essential nature of veterinary work, leaving veterinary science students out of its recent promise to provide funds to support teaching, nursing, and social work students on university placements.

Australian accreditation standards mandate that veterinary students undertake at least 52 weeks of placement during their five to six-year course, a figure which exceeds the requirements of other degrees.  

“For the approximately 3000 veterinary students in Australia, this will be a huge blow,” Australian Veterinary Association president Dr Diana Barker said. 

“The fact that their more than 52 weeks of mandatory placement haven’t been recognised in the Federal Government’s placement payments, is a significant oversight. This does not recognise the essential work veterinarians deliver for individuals and communities across Australia.” 

‘Placement poverty’ affects veterinary students and prevents many students from undertaking practical work placements rurally and regionally due to the costs incurred. 

The AVA calls on the Federal Government to clearly recognise the essential nature of veterinary services in the community.

“Veterinary services are essential to the community, just like human health care or education,” Dr Barker said.

Like human health, the community expects the veterinary profession to provide services for private (individual) benefit, and also deliver services that benefit the public (public good). This aspect of a veterinarian’s work, often invisible to society, is crucial. 

“Protecting and improving the health of people and their communities is an essential part of the veterinary profession,” Dr Barker said. 

“The veterinary profession is a key care profession that is experiencing a skills shortage, and the AVA urges the Government to provide financial support for veterinary students undertaking placements because the profession cannot afford to.

“We know that government subsidies such as those from the Northern Australia Biosecurity Surveillance Network (NABSnet) program are the only way many students can afford to see the benefits of remote rural practice,” Dr Barker added.

The AVA made several recommendations in its 2024/2025 prebudget submission related to new graduates and veterinary education and called for the Federal Government to support strategies that would build and retain the regional veterinary workforce.  

“We implore the Federal Government to expand its placement payment scheme to veterinarians, as they, too, are providing an essential service,” Dr Barker said.  

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