UK and Irish vets to get Australia travel exemptions

UK and Irish vets to get  Australia travel exemptions

Covid puppy boom exacerbated country's skills shortage

Vets from the UK and Ireland will be shortlisted for travel exemptions into Australia as the country struggles with a shortage of workers.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced the much-needed workers would be added onto the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List because of a recent ‘puppy boom’.

The Department of Home Affairs created the list to allow skilled workers to side-step the country’s border closure and ‘support Australia’s economic recovery from Covid-19.

The move comes after Australian Veterinary Association president Warwick Vale said at least 800 more vets are urgently needed across  to fill a shortfall made worse by the pandemic puppy boom and dearth of skilled migrants.

Only 18 occupations are on the list, including psychiatrists, chief executives, software engineers, social workers, GPs and several types of nurses.

Certain skilled workers, including vets, are being welcomed in Australia

Dr Vale welcomed the addition of vets , but said it was a “short-term measure to get over a crisis” and deeper problems remained.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, she said: “It’s been a long-standing problem in country and regional areas but since the COVID pressure it has really come to the cities in a big way. We’ve got vets that are leaving the workforce in droves.”

The Australian veterinary industry has been plagued with several ongoing issues, including poor pay, burnout and high rates of suicide.

Veterinarians have one of the highest rates of suicide at about four-times the national average – or around one suicide every 12 weeks in Australia, according to the Australian Veterinary Association.

The alarming statistic is twice as high as their counterparts in human medicine.

Mark Lawrie, head of Sydney University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, said the pandemic had also precipitated a shortage of veterinary nurses for the first time. “Normally we get a lot of backpacker nurses from the UK and Ireland and they’re very well-trained over there.”