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AVBC Council Agrees to Move Towards Regulation of Veterinary Nurses, in consultation with the AVNAT Registration Scheme

25 November 2022

At AVBC’s November 2022 Council meeting, AVBC agreed that it would be willing to consider accepting a role as an independent national body representing veterinary nurses and technicians for the purpose of registration. Council also agreed to consult with the Australian Veterinary Nurse and Technician Registration Scheme (AVNAT) regarding the progression of the registration of veterinary nurses and technicians. These resolutions are a significant step forward for the regulation of veterinary nurses. 

AVBC, through its Sustainable Practice Committee (SPC), identified that the lack of regulation of veterinary nurses and technicians in most jurisdictions is a significant risk for animal welfare, workforce capacity and our international reputation as a leading provider of veterinary services. The SPC formed the view that a solution to this problem involving significant legislative change across all jurisdictions would be challenging to achieve, so alternative options for regulation were explored.

Spearheaded by SPC members Dr John Baguley (Registrar, Veterinary Practitioners Board of New South Wales) and Ms Jasmine Pengelly (Veterinary Nurses Council of Australia (VNCA), a survey was widely distributed to industry stakeholders. Over 2,300 responses were received. The report is available to view here.

The survey results indicated strong support (88% of all respondents) throughout all jurisdictions and across various roles within the veterinary industry for the registration of veterinary nurses and technicians. Of the listed potential advantages, improvements in animal welfare (80% agreement) and the efficiency of the delivery of veterinary services (75% agreement) were considered the main benefits. Potential disadvantages that were identified included a perception of increased costs for veterinary practice owners (39%) and a perception of an imposition of an unnecessary expense on individual veterinary nurses and technicians (29%).

Concerning a model for the registration of veterinary nurses and technicians, respondents generally supported the following:

  • a national, independent body representing veterinarians, veterinary nurses and technicians
  • a certificate IV as the minimum level of qualification
  • an option for registration of persons currently employed as veterinary nurses who had appropriate skills and experience but no formal qualifications in veterinary nursing for an initial, limited period
  • differentiation based on qualification, particularly expressed by veterinary technicians.

The most popular options put forward by survey respondents for implementation of the model described above were through a single national organisation. The majority of respondents identified either the AVBC or AVNAT as their preferred choice.

Dr Peter Gibbs, AVBC Chair, said “Following last week’s Council decisions, work will continue to take this initiative forward. Next steps include refining the definitions of “veterinary nurse” and “veterinary technician”, defining the acts they can perform, and identifying processes required for registration.”

Veterinary Nurses Council of Australia president Rebecca Coventry said, “The VNCA has been working towards regulation of veterinary nurses and technicians for 25 years and is looking forward to collaborating with AVBC to strengthen the veterinary team by improving role clarity and career progression for veterinary nurses and technicians.“

Ms Jo Hatcher, Australian Veterinary Nurse and Technician Scheme Chair said, “When the VNCA developed the AVNAT registration scheme our main goal was for registration to move from voluntary to national regulation of all veterinary nurses and technicians in Australia. The AVNAT Regulatory council welcomes this significant move by the AVBC and looks forward to working together to achieve this goal”.


Notes for Editors:

The Australasian Veterinary Boards Council (AVBC) ensures the quality of the Australian and New Zealand veterinary profession by providing a forum for discussion, advice and cooperation among veterinary boards in Australia and New Zealand, encouraging the standardisation and quality assurance of veterinary services to the community and assuring and promoting uniform educational standards.

The Veterinary Nurses Council of Australia Inc (VNCA) is a not-for-profit professional association that promotes the interests of Veterinary Nursing across Australia. The Veterinary Nurses Council of Australia (VNCA) launched the Australian Veterinary Nurse and Technician (AVNAT) Registration Scheme on 1 April 2019. AVNAT is the national voluntary registration scheme for veterinary nurses and veterinary technicians involved in clinical, management or academic areas. By creating the AVNAT Registration Scheme, the VNCA has established a thorough and transparent self-regulation program that will set standards of professional practice across the veterinary nursing industry