The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) has once again asked the Federal Government to forgive the HECS debt of graduates who live and work in rural and remote areas.

The renewed call follows the Albanese Government’s announcement that it will wipe the HECS debt of doctors and nurse practitioners who live and work in remote parts of Australia.

Dr Bronwyn Orr, President of the AVA, commended Minister Jason Clarke and Minister Mark Butler for the announcement and said it was excellent to see the Government addressing the shortage of medical professionals in the region, but that it is now time to follow suit for veterinarians.

“The current skills shortage of vets in the regions is crippling the industry, impacting the agricultural sector and if urgent support is not delivered, we may see the rural veterinary workforce collapse.

“We have called on the Albanese Government to commit $19.23 million over four years which would deliver 80 new graduates each year to the regions.”

The HECS forgiveness policy for doctors and nurse practitioners will deliver roughly 850 medical professionals to the regions every year, so Dr Orr said their ask is quite modest in comparison.

“Further, veterinary graduates study for a similar amount of time as doctors, and graduate with a similar HECS debt, often in the six figure range. Affording the same HECS forgiveness to vets as doctors would be warmly welcomed by our profession.

“We have enjoyed positive engagement with the Albanese Government to date, and we look forward to continuing to engage with them on this important matter.”

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