The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) welcomes an extension of working rights for international veterinary student graduates to address workforce shortages.

The Federal Government has announced that international veterinary graduates will be granted an extra two years of post-study work rights with an increased work cap of 48 hours per fortnight. 

Dr Bronwyn Orr, President of the AVA, said the new rules will help ease the immediate pressure on the sector, but longer-term solutions are needed to deliver a sustainable veterinarian workforce nationwide.

“We have repeatedly sounded the alarm on the critical veterinary workforce shortage in Australia, which is particularly acute in regional communities. Vets are vital to the success of the agricultural sector, which contributed $71 billion to the Australian economy in 2020-21.

“Our veterinarians are under intense pressure and if we don’t receive immediate support to increase the size and sustainability of the workforce, our profession is at risk of collapse,” said Dr Orr.

The AVA has championed for so-called HECS forgiveness to be extended to new graduates willing to work in remote areas, and Dr Orr said it’s time this policy was implemented. 

“The Federal Government has agreed to wipe the HECS debts of doctors and nurse practitioners who live and work in the most remote parts of Australia. It’s now time we saw a similar level of support for our veterinarians. 

“We know this policy would be highly effective for the veterinary sector. A recent survey of Australia’s veterinary students showed that 100 per cent of new graduates would work in a regional or rural practice if their HECS debt were wiped, so there is no reason to delay. 

“We look forward to continuing our engagement with the Federal Government on this important policy and supporting our veterinary profession,” said Dr Orr.

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