2018 June - President’s Report
This will be the last Boardtalk President’s Report that I make before the current Board completes its term. I have been reflecting on the achievements of the Board over that time and the overarching importance of regulation. Whilst we often don’t think about regulation we must follow various pieces of legislation as part of our day-to-day life as veterinarians in practice, industry, or government. The standards that regulation mandates are pivotal in that day-to-day life.
So, it is with considerable appreciation to my fellow Board members and the Board’s administrative office and employees that I contemplate this last term of the Veterinary Practitioners Board of New South Wales.
There has been continual improvement of processes and protocols over that period so that all our interactions are more consistent and efficient whilst serving the purpose of the legislation. This improvement has been particularly important with respect to our complaint investigations with the number of complaints against veterinarians increasing from 44 in 2016 to 72 in 2017.
The Board has faced a number of issues created by external forces during the last 3 years including the regulation of the profession by racing authorities and stressors created by stray animal management and social media. When dealing with these and other issues the role of the Board includes enforcing the provisions of the Act and Regulation, providing advice to consumers of veterinary services, providing advice to the Minister, liaising with professional bodies such as the AVA, and co-operating with regulators in other jurisdictions.
The Australasian Veterinary Boards Council (AVBC)
The AVBC facilitates this co-operation among regulators of the profession in Australia and New Zealand. The AVBC is an incorporated association whose members are the state and territory veterinary registration boards of Australia and the Veterinary Council of New Zealand together with the AVA and the NZVA. The AVA and NZVA are not paid members and therefore have no voting rights but their contributions to discussions are considerable and highly valued by other members.
Generally the President or Chair of each member board represents the board and hence the state or territory. I represent the NSW Veterinary Practitioners Board and am accompanied by John Baguley in his position as Registrar at the face to face meetings.
All registered veterinarians in NSW and across Australia fund the work of the AVBC. A fee of $26 per registered veterinarian funds the operations and this fee has not changed since 2014.
The AVBC provides its members with:
- A forum for communication and discussion of areas of mutual interest and policy development
- The framework for public and industry confidence in veterinary standards
- The assurance and promotion of educational standards through the accreditation of veterinary schools, the National Veterinary Examination and specialist accreditation.
The AVBC's major functions are managed by its Standards Committees:
- Veterinary Schools Accreditation Advisory Committee (VSAAC) which is responsible for the accreditation of veterinary degrees that lead to registration
- The Board of Examiners (BoE) which is responsible for conducting the National Veterinary Examination (NVE) which is the exam that applicants for registration who do not have qualifications suitable for registration are able to sit for the purpose of registering as a veterinarian in Australia and New Zealand
- Advisory Committee on the Registration of Veterinary Specialists (ACRVS) which is responsible for undertaking assessment of veterinary specialist applications and making recommendations to member boards regarding specialist registration in Australia and New Zealand
National recognition of veterinary registration and mutual recognition of qualifications
The recognition of qualifications within Australia and between Australia and New Zealand underlie the importance of ensuring that the standards for university facilities and education, for determining specialist registration, and for accepting candidates from overseas completing the National Veterinary Examination are consistent within Australia and between Australia and New Zealand.
An important consequence of the validity and robustness of AVBC’s assessment processes is the international reputation it has achieved as an assurer of the quality of veterinary professional standards.
Whilst many veterinarians might not think about or fully understand the role of the AVBC during everyday veterinary life, like its constituent Boards, it is foundational to the high esteem in which our profession is held.
Many registrants will be aware of the recent announcement of the proposed resignation of the Veterinary Surgeons Board of South Australia from the AVBC. Whilst this issue is still to be resolved it has highlighted the importance for all boards and registrants of understanding the critical role the AVBC plays in the regulatory environment of the veterinary profession in Australia and New Zealand.
Finally I would like to convey my deep thanks to the current Board members and all the Board staff for their dedication and hard work over the last three years. It has been such a privilege to work with these amazing people.