AVA opposed to federal government vets cut proposal

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AVA opposed to federal government vets cut proposalThe federal government’s proposed changes to Department of Agriculture and Water Resources veterinary staff may put both animal welfare and public health on rocky footing.

The government’s proposal would see entry-level vets’ wages drop by $21,000 per annum, a reduction of opportunities for continuing professional development and increased difficulty for mobility within governmental employment.

In defence of it’s members, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) has expressed apprehension over the proposed changes. AVA president, Dr Robert Johnson voiced his concern, calling for the government to consider the role vets play in agriculture-related health and safety.

“Government vets provide services that protect biosecurity, public health and food safety. They are as integral to government decision-making on agriculture as doctors are to policy in the medical system,” said Dr Johnson.

Dr Johnson’s concerns are not unfounded, the AVA’s workforce modelling report from 2015 found that the Australian government could already expect a shortage of vets in their employ, even without changes to pay and conditions.

“Reducing pay scales and classifications for veterinary officers will only make this situation worse and it will be our livestock industries and public health that will pay the price,” said Johnson

“We believe the government needs to be proactively employing more vets. It’s also important to invest in the development and retention of those already working in Australian government roles so their expertise is not lost.”

Dr Johnson explained the important role Australian veterinary expertise played in food and livestock trade.

“Multi-million dollar decisions rest on the internationally-trusted signature of Australian vets. We’re very concerned about the impact these proposed changes will have on protecting livestock industries from disease, and our ability to respond when there’s an animal health crisis.

“Undervaluing these many contributions of government vets opens the door to risks that we just can’t afford to take.”

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