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Australia is facing a major vet shortage nationally

As pet ownership skyrockets, a national vet shortage puts pressure on clinics and pets at risk

In 2019, 61 per cent of Australians had a pet. That has risen to 69 per cent in 2022, as many people sought companionship during COVID lockdowns.

Figures from the Federal Government show there has been a shortage of vets for the past three years, despite a record high number of people completing vet courses. 

“While rescue groups did all they could in the Northern NSW flooding, a chronic lack of Government funding for animal rescue services and mobile vet clinics left many animals with painful, untreated injuries and families stressed about lost animals. said Emma Hurst MP, NSW Animal Justice Party.

“The Animal Welfare League NSW’s mobile vet truck was one of the only functioning vet clinics on the ground to help animals – but it gets no proper funding from Government.

The devastation of these floods is enormous and it shined a spotlight on the shocking lack of Government funding for emergency services for animals.

Funding for services such as mobile vet clinics and emergency animal accommodation and rescue is urgently needed. With future flooding virtually guaranteed, funding for mobile vet clinics and other emergency response initiates for both people and animals across NSW is an absolute necessity.

Australia is currently facing a major national shortage of veterinarians, which has left practitioners at breaking point and animal welfare at risk.

It has been reported that staff shortages are putting increasing pressure on veterinarians, who are facing impossibly high workloads for comparatively low pay.

Compared to many other professions, veterinary science is not what you would call a high performer on the salary front...
“The median income for a vet working full-time is $84,420, according to the ATO and the Bureau of Statistics – which pales in comparison to the median income for veterinarians in the USA which is almost AU$140,000!

This is a serious concern for a profession that is already highly stressful and no doubt is contributing to the very frightening statistic that veterinary practitioners are four times more likely to commit suicide compared to the rest of the population.

Despite the unique pressures faced by veterinarians, there is currently no NSW Government program targeted at providing mental wellbeing or other support to the veterinary profession.

Council pounds have been particularly affected by the vet shortage, with many finding it difficult to secure veterinarians to care for sick and injured animals, de-sex and microchip animals for rehoming. Regional and rural areas are struggling.

Animal Welfare League NSW team members deployed in Taree after the 2020 bushfires

The Animal Welfare League NSW has been working to fill this vet shortage by driving their mobile vet truck to rural and regional areas, to assist the communities and local councils to perform microchipping, vaccinations and health checks.

However, there is only so much that it can do with a single truck, which was funded entirely by a private charity.

“We have called on the NSW Government to urgently fund the building and annual running costs of mobile vet trucks to support regional and rural communities and pounds facing vet shortages, and for proper support programs for veterinarians.

It is shocking that this Government is doing nothing to support veterinarians and step in before this crisis worsens.

I have heard horror stories of people in some areas having to wait weeks before being able to see a veterinarian – this situation could become a lot worse.

I have asked the Minister for Mental Health, Bronnie Taylor, about mental health support for veterinarians at three separate Budget Estimates hearings.

As it stands, there are no specific government programs targeting mental health and suicide rates for the NSW veterinary industry. This is despite the rates of suicide among vets being alarmingly higher than the rest of the population.” concluded Emma Hurst MP, NSW Animal Justice Party.


Related Topics:

Calls for Veterinary Mental Health Funding in Australia


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