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Australia - Veterinary Care

The standard of veterinary care in Australia is very good. All vets study for several years in order to qualify and in order to work they must have a licence issued by the state. There are plans in place for this registration to be national, so that if a vet wants to move to another state they do not need to go through the registration process again. This will ensure that if there is an emergency in one state with a disease outbreak then a vet can be called from another state to help with little red tape. Each state must pass this legislation in order for this to be effective and this is currently underway.

In some remote areas of Australia you may have difficulty in finding a vet as funding issues have made it difficult for vets to maintain a rural practice. There are programmes in place to reverse this trend but if you are moving to a rural area you need to be prepared to travel to the nearest town.

The situation with regard to animal health is overseen by the Animal Health Australia organisation. This is a public company which involves both the national government and the state governments as well as educational institutions and veterinary bodies. The animal health laboratory network serves to support this and ensures that the latest innovations, technologies and research are put to good use. The national government is responsible for overseeing all quarantine issues and dealing with any international issues which may arise, such as the possibility of a disease entering the country from elsewhere.

The state governments take care of any disease outbreaks that are contained within the state. For administrative purposes each state is divided into a veterinary region and each has its own government veterinary officer. There are further divisions which are inspected by an appointed person who may be a qualified vet or technician so you can be sure that the services in your area are well regulated.

Every urban area has a veterinary practice although if you are in a small town you may have to travel to reach your nearest practice. Most veterinary practices offer a wide range of services from general care and vaccinations to surgery and treatment of serious conditions. Some run training advice and schools for those who are new to pet care and clubs for children to learn more about caring for animals.

It is common practice for vets in Australia to spend time each year on training courses to familiarise themselves with the latest technologies and animal medicines. When you choose a veterinary practice for your pet the vets will be able to tell you more about the training that the vets undergo. Veterinary nurses must also be qualified and will also be involved in a programme of continuing professional development.

In each state there are professional bodies for the vets to join and these will inspect the practice regularly to make sure that the standards which have been set are being met. For example the Veterinary Surgeons Board of South Australia awards accreditations to veterinary hospitals in the state which meet the required standards. These are not easy to get. Each hospital must apply, showing their credentials and undergoing an inspection every three years. Most areas of Australia have a veterinary hospital and these often operate 24 hours a day.

In order to find out more about the veterinary services and professional bodies in your area you can check the animal welfare section of the website of your local government. Finding a vet is easy enough as these advertise in the Yellow Pages, but by contacting the professional bodies in the area you can find the vets which meet their rigorous standards.

Nationally, the Australian Veterinary Association has a section on their site which allows you to search for a vet in your area. It also offers advice on becoming a vet and what you can expect when you make a visit to a veterinary practice. There is also information on the law and regulations on animal care as well as information on working with animal welfare organisations such as the RSPCA. The organisation gives advice on vaccinations and choosing the right pet for you and your family.

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