Dr John Craven, Dr Elaine Ong and Dr Philip Holmes have been honoured as individuals who exemplify dedication and commitment to their field.

Dr Craven was recognised as an Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for his distinguished service to food biosecurity and environmental safety, veterinary science research, and to the dairy industry.

A Life Member of the Australia Veterinarian Association (AVA), Dr Craven is based in Victoria and has a wealth of experience in the agricultural and food standards industries. 

Career highlights include five years as the Director of the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (2011 to 2016), a stint as the Chair of the Veterinary Schools Accreditation Advisory Committee at the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council for its first six years and subsequent chairing of the Animal Ethics Committee at Swinburne University of Technology. 

In 2005, he authored the Craven Review of Veterinary Science Education and Registration Requirements. Earlier in his career, Dr Craven worked for the Victorian Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and as an Academic Associate of the Veterinary Faculty at the University of Melbourne. 

Reflecting on his career, Dr Craven said, “I am struck by my good fortune to have lived through an era when there were huge veterinary initiatives such as the Brucellosis and Tuberculosis Eradication Campaign and investment in veterinary laboratories.”  

Dr Craven considers his Australia Day Honour a chance to “reflect on the changes that have occurred over the past 60 plus years of AVA membership” and the “huge, vibrant and diverse veterinary community” that has grown over the years. 

Dr Elaine Ong was recognised as a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for significant service to veterinary medicine and to animal welfare and rescue. 

Dr Ong was the Principal Surgeon and Owner of Balwyn Central Veterinary Hospital (1995 to 2021) and, in 2016, founded Vets For Compassion (VFC), a charity emergency response organisation operating in Victoria.

Working “hand in hand with … other ethical agencies,” Dr Ong said the VFC provides a critical animal welfare service to the Australian community by dispatching volunteers to humanely capture, rescue and treat any and all animal species affected by natural disasters in Victoria and NSW. 

Dr Ong headed the Team for the recent Mallacoota fires and Lismore floods and said she is “truly humbled by this award” but emphasises that her Australia Day Honour is the result of a team effort, thanking “the team at Balwyn Central Vet Hospital who take care of [the] patients, clients and clinic while [she goes] away to do welfare work.” 

Dr Philip Holmes was awarded a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the General Division for service to the livestock industry.

Dr Holmes has enjoyed a stellar career mainly involved in the livestock industry, with highlights including co-authoring the Australian Beef Report in 2017, acting as the Consulting Editor for Beef Improvement News at The Land newspaper for five years, working as Lead Researcher for the North Australian Beef Industry Situation Analysis in 2009 and 2013, and developed the Business EDGE Training Package for Meat and Livestock Australia in 2014.

Like the other recipients, Dr Holmes acknowledged his colleagues and support network, he said, “I would not be where I am today without them.” 

Reflecting on his life and career, Dr Holmes said the advantage of a veterinary degree is that it “can launch you into an infinite number of fields of interest, arguably its major strength.” He hopes “the attraction of rural pursuits increases over time with new graduates, as there are so many opportunities.”

This story was shared with the permission of the Australian Veterinarian Association (AVA), see their story here.

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