Media Release

30/04/2014
Australasian veterinary schools lead the future on welfare and ethics teaching
JCU’s School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences will share in a significant research grant designed to improve the teaching of animal welfare and ethics for future veterinarians.

Australasian veterinary schools lead the future on welfare and ethics teaching

James Cook University’s School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences will share in a significant research grant designed to improve the teaching of animal welfare and ethics for future veterinarians.

The Federal Government recently approved a $378,000 Office for Learning & Teaching (OLT) research grant to produce nationally shared curriculum resources for veterinary undergraduate learning in animal welfare and ethics.

All of Australia and New Zealand’s eight veterinary schools are involved, and the project is being led by the University of Sydney.

JCU’s team leader on the project, Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Behaviour, Welfare and Ethics, Dr Janice Lloyd, said animal welfare involves the psychological and physical well-being of animals.

“Concern for animal welfare is based on knowing that animals are aware and can feel pain, and that consideration should be given to their well-being,” Dr Lloyd said.

“This project will improve Australia’s international standing on animal welfare issues.

“For example, there is growing public concern about the treatment of animals from puppy farming to the live export industry, and the Australian community looks to veterinarians as leading advocates for the welfare of all animals, so this generous funding could not have come at a better time.”

Dr Lloyd said the project aimed to keep veterinarians in Australia and New Zealand well informed about a wide range of animal welfare issues so they can apply what they learn in veterinary school when they are making decisions about an animal’s well-being as qualified vets.

There will be many subjects taught throughout all year levels – depending on the participating school’s preference.

The research project is being led by the University of Sydney in collaboration with JCU, Charles Sturt University, Massey University, The University of Queensland, The University of Melbourne, The University of Adelaide, and Murdoch University.

Each participating university will play a leading role? in developing themes mandated by the Federal Government’s Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS) including: Animals used for work, sport, recreation or display; Animals in the wild; Companion animals; Livestock/production animals; Aquatic animals; and Animals used in research and teaching.

“The combined experience and expertise from all veterinary schools will be pooled together using an online teaching portal that will reflect world’s best practice. Each school will use the resource differently but essentially a national curriculum will be created to help standardise the teaching of welfare and ethics.”

Dr Lloyd said she had just attended the project’s first workshop in Sydney along with the other team members from all of the veterinary schools.

“It was really collegial and productive, and the next step is for the theme leaders to come up with some teaching scenarios that can be imbedded and tested in the online portal,” she said.

“Ultimately we hope to offer the learning resources to our undergraduate and graduate veterinarians to reshape veterinary education to help ensure our graduates are competent in the often tricky field of making ethical decisions about animal welfare.

“The World Organisation for Animal Health has recently acknowledged the importance of teaching welfare and ethics in veterinary schools, and the World Society for the Protection of Animals, with the support of the World Veterinary Association, is currently looking at ways to develop international standards for teaching animal welfare in veterinary schools around the world.

“So this funding provides a wonderful opportunity for JCU to show itself as a Centre for Excellence in the teaching of animal welfare and ethics in a global sense.”

JCU Media Liaison: Caroline Kaurila, tel: (07) 4781 4586 or 0437 028 175.

Issued April 30, 2014