Veterinary businesses across Queensland are joining the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) in calling for urgent action to address the veterinary workforce shortage in rural Queensland.

Veterinary clinics across Australia are closing due to workforce shortages, and employers and the AVA are calling for government action.

Dr Diana Barker, President of the AVA, said more needed to be done by the Australian government and is calling for a rural HELP Forgiveness Scheme to assist.

“Demand for veterinary services in our communities continues to grow, but if we don’t support the workforce, we could see the entire profession collapse.

“Rural and regional Queensland has a rich and vibrant agriculture sector that relies on veterinary services to ensure animals are healthy and disease-free.”

There are 941 veterinary businesses in Queensland, which employ over 3,800 veterinarians, and with every closure, the pressure mounts on those that remain.

“We have asked Education Minister Jason Clare to commit to a rural HELP Forgiveness Scheme, but he has deferred any decisions on this until 2025. That is too late – our regional communities need vets now.”

Dr Barker explained that in 2022, the gross value of livestock was approximately $35 billion, of which $15.3 billion was from the cattle industry. The HELP Forgiveness Scheme would cost just $4.8 million a year for four years and wipe the HELP debt of 80 graduates each year.

The Roma Veterinary Clinic, which employs nine vets, and Charleville Vet Surgery, which employs three full-time vets, who together support a community in a region much larger than Tasmania, are among the clinics supporting the AVA’s call for assistance.

“Two thirds of our work is in herd health and disease surveillance, but we’re just stretched too thin,” said Dr Will Nason from Roma Veterinary Clinic.

“If we could find the vets, there is enough demand to easily expand our vet workforce by 50 per cent.”

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