Canberra’s veterinary shortage: Medicare-like plan, mandatory pet insurance, and proposed solutions for more skilled migration The Canberra Times



news, breaking news, Canberra, ACT, Health, Animals, Veterinary science

A Medicare-like plan, mandatory pet insurance and the ability to migrate more qualified people once border restrictions are eased are proposals that may help with the chronic shortage of veterinarians in ACT, said a practitioner. Dr Tanya Caltabiano, who is scheduled to open The Foreshore Vet in Kingston on April 27, said the industry’s workforce issues caused by the increase in the number of pets during the pandemic that led some clinics to change operations were a complex situation. “A Medicare-like system would have the same effect as humans: protect you from huge bills through subsidized treatment,” she said. “But I can’t see that happening. Another scenario is mandatory pet insurance when an animal is purchased from a registered breeder.” Then, up to 80 percent of the bills would be covered by the insurance company and not by the owner of the animal. “It would help resolve compensation issues and keep passionate and knowledgeable professionals in the industry.” Dr Caltabiano said the government could potentially help raise awareness through a media campaign or by supporting the Australian Veterinary Association and non-profit groups to support vets who are striving for their mental well-being. “Or when international borders open again, we can consider putting pressure on the government to allow more skilled migration,” she said. “There are so many jobs in our industry that cannot be filled, so if we cannot do it domestically, why not look overseas?” Asked about the challenges of opening a new clinic during a tough time, Dr Caltabiano said she wanted to help ease the demand on other clinics. She said it will be a new kind of work environment that will include shorter opening hours and longer consultation times per patient to help staff balance work and private life. Research conducted by the Department of Employment in May 2019 found that employers continued to experience difficulties in filling advertised vet positions. “Shortages have been present for three consecutive years and are widespread in geographic areas and veterinary specializations,” he said. MORE NEWS Dr Magdoline Awad, chief veterinarian of Greencross Vets, which has three sites in ACT, said there was no one solution as there were multiple problems. “What would really help is a sectoral approach to collaboratively bring about positive change for the industry,” Dr Awad said. “We would like the public to be more aware of the important work of vets and their contribution to their communities – behind every animal is a team of vets dedicated to their protection. Dr Awad said COVID has forced challenges and changes to the veterinary profession across the world in such a short time. Hackett woman Anna Schneider, who owns a three-year-old mixed-breed dog, George, said she was lucky because he had a “pretty strong constitution” and said she had taken proactive steps for his health in order to help veterinarians. “He has at least one walk a day. We make sure he’s up to date with his vaccination,” Ms. Schneider said. “It was difficult last year to get vaccinated because the vets had a small number, so it was much more difficult than before.” She advised other pet owners to stay calm. “Pets these days are sort of replacing children for people, so they’re more of a family. As parents, they can be more susceptible to any problem. But you get older and you realize they’re pretty tough. Be a little calmer, ”she says. Our journalists work hard to provide local and up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:



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