Veterinary services will undergo their biggest modernisation in more than 50 years, with State Parliament today passing the Veterinary Practice Bill 2021.
The Bill replaces the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1960 and updates the regulation of veterinary medicine in Western Australia to bring the veterinary profession into line with other Australian jurisdictions.
The new legislation paves the way for national recognition of veterinarians registered in other Australian jurisdictions, as recommended by the Australian Productivity Commission.
The changes remove barriers to veterinarians working across State borders, facilitating the movement of professionals from interstate to assist in emergencies.
A restriction that only veterinarians could own veterinary practices has also been removed to align with National Competition Policy principles.
Western Australia will now join most other jurisdictions to allow the corporatisation of veterinary practices, similar to the medical and pharmaceutical industries.
In an Australian first, the legislation will see WA introduce registration of veterinary nurses, recognising the important role and significant responsibilities of this profession.
Under the new legislation, the Veterinary Surgeons’ Board of WA will be replaced by a Veterinary Practice Board of Western Australia, with a new constitution and membership to regulate the practice of veterinary medicine in WA.
The new laws will allow professional misconduct matters to be dealt with more efficiently by the Board.
The new Board will be given powers to deal with impairment issues, such as substance abuse or dependence and mental or physical impairment, separate to complaints and discipline to allow for a more compassionate approach to dealing with these sensitive issues.
Regulations will now be drafted and consultation undertaken with industry before the Act comes into effect.
As stated by Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan:
“The new Veterinary Practice Act has been a long time coming – more than 20 years – and our Government is proud to help veterinary services move forward.
“There have been significant advances in the past 60 years and this new legislation was essential to enable vets to meet the current and future needs of their industry.
“We have taken on industry feedback and sought a balanced approach to compliance and regulation, with the establishment of a new expanded Board, which – in addition to veterinarians – will include a lawyer, consumer representative and a veterinary nurse.
“The Bill includes provision for national recognition of veterinarians, which will make it easier for interstate veterinarians to move to WA to practice.
“This provision will be particularly important in the event of a large scale animal disease outbreak that requires increased numbers of veterinarians from interstate.”