The University of Queensland (UQ) has announced plans to close its specialist veterinary training clinic in Dayboro, north of Brisbane, a move described as “devastating” by the region’s farming community.
- The University of Queensland plans to close its specialty veterinary clinic in Dayboro in the Moreton Bay area north of Brisbane
- The clinic trains veterinary students in the practice of large animals and supports local breeders
- Students and veterinary services will be transferred to UQ’s Gatton clinic near Toowoomba
The clinic has been operating in the Moreton Bay area for 34 years, providing expert veterinary support to local dairy and cattle farms, while training veterinary students in the practice of large and small animals.
But the university last week announced plans to shut down the clinic, moving students and veterinary services in direct contact with clients to its clinic in Gatton, near Toowoomba.
“Deflated and Abandoned”
The news shocked local farmers, who for decades have relied on specialist veterinarians at the UQ clinic to provide emergency and routine care to their livestock.
The university proposes to close the clinic in mid-February next year.
Nindethana owner Bronwyn Betts, a third-generation Droughtmaster cattle rancher at Camp Mountain, half an hour south of Dayboro, said the clinic closure would devastate the area.
She said the team of university vets working at the clinic was “extraordinary”, with decades of experience and strong partnerships with the local farming community.
“We have developed an incredible relationship with these vets. We are in constant contact with them.”
The closest accredited livestock veterinarian is in Toogoolawah, about an hour and a half drive from Dayboro, Dr Betts said.
“Consultation process underway”
A spokesperson for UQ said in a statement that the university was “incredibly grateful for the long-standing support of the Dayboro community.”
“We will engage with stakeholders over the next few months to understand the impacts and help find a positive solution to ensure continuity of veterinary care,” the spokesperson said.
“A consultation process on the proposal is underway with our staff.
On the website announcing the closure, Nigel Perkins, director of UQ’s School of Veterinary Sciences, said the decision to consolidate veterinary clinical education at Gatton recognizes the maturity of the campus’s facilities and services.
“It also reflects the need to manage services and spend funds effectively to support student learning and graduate outcomes,” said Professor Perkins.
A petition has been launched to urge the university to keep the Dayboro clinic operating, with dozens of comments from local residents and current and former UQ students concerned about the shutdown.
The president of the UQ section of the National Union of Higher Education, Andrew Bonnell, said the union expected to lose about nine permanent and six casual positions as part of the restructuring.
Challenges in finding veterinary degrees
Australian Veterinary Association spokeswoman Cristy Secombe said the closure reflected “the challenges universities face in funding the veterinary degree.”
“The loss of this veterinary service and this wonderful local community partnership will probably have the most impact at the community level,” said Dr Secombe.
“We are confident that the University of Queensland will continue to provide high quality veterinary education to its students.
“What worries the AVA is the extreme stress universities are undergoing to deliver their veterinary programs.
“Appropriate government support for veterinary education is essential to ensure the sustainability of the veterinary profession. “
Community support for education
In 2012, UQ closed its small animal clinic in Saint Lucia and in 2013, invested $ 2.4 million to modernize its facilities in Dayboro.
Dr Betts said the Dayboro farming community has always welcomed the UQ team and appreciated the importance of allowing veterinary students to work on their animals.
“We have embraced the educational needs and goals of the university clinic and have been doing so for over three decades,” she said.
Queensland Agriculture Minister Mark Furner and Dickson MP Peter Dutton have been contacted for comment.