The Australian Veterinary Association’s (AVA) proposal to scrap HECS debt for veterinary graduates willing to move to rural areas has been rejected by the Federal Government.
The proposal was not included in the Federal Budget released last week, a move that was disappointing but not altogether surprising, according to Dr Brown Orr, President of the AVA.
“It’s unfortunate that our proposal to support veterinary graduates was not included, but also not entirely surprising given the budgetary pressures on the Federal Government,” said Dr Orr.
“The veterinary profession plays a critically important role in ensuring that commercial farms and their livestock remain healthy.
“But fewer veterinary graduates are moving to the regions to fill these important roles, putting increasing pressure on the agricultural industry, a central pillar to Australia’s economy,” she said.
Although not included this time round, Dr Orr said she hasn’t given up hope that the proposal will be taken up by the Government sometime in the future.
“We acknowledge this Budget has been a housekeeping one, focused on delivering key election commitments and promises,” she said.
“We also acknowledge the productive discussions we’ve had to date with the Albanese Government on our proposal to wipe the HECS debt of our regional and rural veterinary graduates.
“I look forward to continued engagement with the Federal Government on the key issues facing the veterinary profession, and hopefully, the May 2023 Budget will have more support for our profession.”
Not just ready to support veterinary graduates, Dr Orr also noted support for vet nurses is critical for the industry moving forward.
“The AVA would like to see some of the additional fee-free TAFE courses included in the budget to be allocated to veterinary nursing courses to help ease the workforce shortages facing the profession,” she said.