An Afghan veterinarian says any help is “highly appreciated” as Australian veterinarians call on the federal government to allow their overseas colleagues to resettle in Australia.

Key points:

  • Australian veterinarians are pleading with the government to support the resettlement of Afghan veterinarians in Australia
  • The Taliban has declared Afghanistan is now an independent country
  • Peak veterinarian bodies say skilled Afghans could fill Australia’s veterinarian workforce shortage 

Australia’s peak veterinarian bodies — the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) and Australasian Veterinary Boards Council (AVBC) — said they were “deeply distressed by the events” in Afghanistan.

The final US troops left Afghanistan earlier today, and the last Australian military flight left Kabul earlier this month, hours before bomb blasts killed nearly 200 people near the airport.

Speaking from Afghanistan, one veterinarian told the ABC he knew of at least five others who had been killed “in recent clashes”.

He said Afghanistan veterinarians had a “high-security risk to them and their families and relatives” and had “worked very hard” with international communities over the past 30 years.

He said they had no guarantee when they would return to normal life.

NSW vets urge horse owners to vaccinate

The AVA has offered to support Afghan veterinarians through retraining within Australia.(

ABC Rural: Kim Honan

)

Fears grow from Australian veterinarians

AVBC Chair, Dr Peter Gibbs, said he feared for the safety of those in Afghanistan and wanted to “provide a future” for them in Australia.

“We have a lot of people out there who have been involved in aid projects and working with westerners, which probably puts them more at risk than anyone,” Dr Gibbs said. 

“Also, a hell of a lot of them are female, so that’s of even more concern.

“The Afghan veterinary professionals have made a vital contribution to public health, animal health and welfare, and we strongly support opportunities to help them settle in Australia and continue in their careers,” said Dr Cristy Secombe from AVA.

Dr Peter Gibbs, AVBC Chair

Dr Gibbs says he feels a sense responsibility to help his overseas colleagues.(

Supplied: Peter Gibbs

)

Job opportunities in regional Australia

Dr Gibbs said there were bountiful work opportunities for Afghan veterinarians in rural Australia, where there was a “desperate” workforce shortage.

“In Australia, we do have a shortage of veterinarians, so there is a method — if they’re allowed to come into the country — where they can be retrained.”

He described Australasian standards as “rigorous” and “world-class” but believed Afghan veterinarians could meet those standards with support.

“They wouldn’t be able to come in straightaway and work, they would have to do a lot of retraining to bring them up to our skill set, but if they are there and can be rescued,” he said.

“We can provide them with a future. “We have a certain responsibility to them, I believe.”

Migration policies apply

Australia has committed to take an initial 3,000 Afghans under its humanitarian program.

A Department of Home Affairs spokesperson said that was “a floor not a ceiling” and that “applications from Afghan citizens are prioritised for processing”.

“Particular priority will be given to persecuted minorities, women and children and those who have family links to Australia.

“The government is working to ensure that visa options continue to be available to Afghan nationals, both within Afghanistan and those displaced from their home country, through Australia’s long-standing Humanitarian and Migration Programs.

“Australia operates a Migration Program for people who wish to migrate on the basis of their skills or family relationships in Australia.”

Posted , updated 

‘We can provide with a future’: Aussie veterinarians’ plea to help Afghan colleagues
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