Shining a Light on Australia’s Bachelor’s Degree Veterinary Paraprofessionals: Strengthening Our National Animal Biosecurity Defences

Patricia Clarke

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


The bachelor’s degree qualified veterinary technologist/technician and veterinary nurse have an emerging and powerful role to play in the defence of Australia’s animal biosecurity. With the current veterinary workforce shortage, veterinary paraprofessionals with a university science-based education, clinical nursing skills, and in-depth animal health knowledge complementing the role of veterinarians, have great potential to expand our national biosecurity defences. At present, Australia has three veterinary technology degrees delivered by The University of Queensland, Charles Sturt University, and The University of Adelaide. These programs include foundational scientific courses in addition to clinical veterinary nursing. Similarly, Melbourne Polytechnic in partnership with La Trobe University offer a Bachelor of Veterinary Nursing.

As yet, the role of the veterinary technologist has not been defined in Australia. Consequently, it is timely for new ways of thinking about Australia’s animal biosecurity defences and veterinary technologists’ potential for alleviating the pressures on veterinarians and enhancing animal biosecurity.

The World Organisation for Animal Health recognises the critical role of veterinary paraprofessionals working with veterinarians in a country’s animal disease surveillance, prevention, and control programs. Concurring with this view, the World Veterinary Association’s recently published position statement focused on the vital role of veterinary paraprofessionals in supporting veterinary services and the need for their regulation by Veterinary Statutory Boards. At present, Western Australia is the only jurisdiction in Australia that registers veterinary paraprofessionals such as veterinary nurses. However, the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council and the Veterinary Nurses Council of Australia are collaborating on establishing a national veterinary nurse and technologist registration scheme. This will provide accountability for professional practice and conduct, increase protection to animal health and welfare, align us with international standards and safeguard the public interest and protect the public health. It will also provide an opportunity for the veterinary technologist role to be clearly defined and introduce regulatory measures to ensure they are providing high-quality evidence-based services.

In addition to their clinical expertise, veterinary technologists can engage with clinical research, through their understanding of scientific principles and research methods. As well as their capability in the field, veterinary technologists have prime opportunity to perform/assist with data collection and field trials. At present, veterinary technology graduates have completed postgraduate studies in biosecurity with a focus on veterinary parasitology across a range of species, going on to complete post-doctoral positions in biosecurity. Those with postgraduate qualifications can enhance and disseminate Australia’s biosecurity knowledge as well as boost our biosecurity performance. Veterinary technology graduates have also made their mark in animal biosecurity field roles in Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, with some working at management level.

By working together veterinarians and veterinary technologists can reform the Australian veterinary industry, including animal biosecurity. Expanding the veterinary workforce can alleviate current industry pressures and help keep our country safe from emerging threats such as foot and mouth disease or African swine fever.
Now is the time to be innovative and progressive by utilising graduate veterinary technologists and nurses to their full potential: benefitting the veterinary profession and Australia’s animal biosecurity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 05 Jun 2024
Event3rd Australian Biosecurity Symposium - SEAWORLD RESORT , Gold Coast, Australia
Duration: 27 Aug 202429 Aug 2024


Conference3rd Australian Biosecurity Symposium
Abbreviated titleInnovation – New ways of thinking and undertaking biosecurity activities.
CityGold Coast
Internet address


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