The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) has again called for veterinarians to have their HECS debt wiped when they move to regional communities.

The recent Federal Budget did not address the regional vet shortage, with Dr David Andrews, CEO of the AVA, expressing his disappointment and stating many more agricultural communities were at risk of losing their veterinary services as a result.

“Despite the important role of vets in animal agricultural industries, workforce shortages could see access to veterinary services in regional and rural areas collapse.

“Government’s bank on the $70 billion contribution of the agricultural sector to the Australian economy but it’s an industry which has been left exposed by chronic under investment in the veterinary workforce.”

During 2023, veterinary practices in Parkes and Wee Waa in NSW, Jamestown in SA, and Longford in Tasmania all closed, leaving major faming towns without access to veterinary services.

Dr Andrews said The Albanese Government has shown a commitment to remote communities by relieving their doctors, nurses and teachers of their HECS debt, and vets urgently need to be added to that list to prevent crucial services from being lost.

“Livestock farming has significant value to the Australian economy. In 2022, the gross value of livestock was approximately $25 billion – therefore a situation where there are fewer and fewer vets available to service the industry presents a fundamental economic and animal welfare risk.

“Given that it would cost just $4.8 million per year to provide dozens of willing veterinarians to communities that so desperately need them, we are disappointed that the Government has overlooked this small but important investment.”

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