The Federal Government has not included veterinary science students in 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 that exceeds the requirements of other degrees.  

Dr Diana Barker, President of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), said this would be a huge blow for the approximately 3,000 veterinary students in Australia.

“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.

“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.”

Many veterinary students are affected by ‘placement poverty’ which prevents them from undertaking practical work placements both rurally and regionally due to the costs incurred. If provided with opportunities to practice rurally, there is evidence that students will return to work in rural and regional locations.

“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.

“Veterinary services are essential to the community, just like human health care or education. “We implore the Federal Government to expand its placement payment scheme to veterinarians, as they, too, are providing an essential service,” said Dr Barker.

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