The Queensland Freedom of Information Act 1992 allows the public to see information on documents held by ministers, state government departments, most semi-government agencies and statutory authorities, and local government authorities. The Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries and most of its associated agencies and statutory authorities are 'agencies' under the FOI Act. This includes the Veterinary Surgeons Board of Queensland.
Structure and Functions of the Agency
The Veterinary Surgeons Board of Queensland is constituted to exercise and discharge the powers, authorities, duties and functions conferred or imposed upon it by the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1936 and Veterinary Surgeons Regulations
The Veterinary Surgeons Act is an Act relating to the qualification and registration of veterinary surgeons and the regulation and control of the practice of veterinary science and for purposes connected therewith.
The statute acts in the public interest as a means to ensure domestic and international consumer protection and animal welfare, in the delivery of veterinary services.
This is achieved by ensuring that the providers of veterinary services are suitably qualified and by the registration of qualified persons to practice veterinary science.
The Board is responsible for the registration of veterinarians and veterinary specialists and administers the disciplinary provisions of the Act in respect of professional misconduct by registrants and the performance of prohibited practices by non-registered persons.
Control over the standard of veterinary premises is also the responsibility of the Board.
Clients are defined as the general public, veterinary surgeons, veterinary professional organisations, veterinary educational bodies, other veterinary boards and registration authorities and other government bodies having administrative or regulatory control over matters ancillary or pertaining to the veterinary profession and environment.
Significantly, the Veterinary Surgeons Board has the sole legislative responsibility for the regulation and advancement of the veterinary profession in Queensland.
The Board consists of a Chairperson and five other members appointed by the Governor-in Council. There are approximately 2,150 registered veterinary surgeons in Queensland and the administrative duties associated with the Act are performed by the Registrar with administrative support. The Board is funded solely from moneys collected from registered veterinary surgeons. Revenue collected annually amounts to approximately $225,000.00 and a similar amount is expended on administering the legislation.
The Veterinary Surgeons Board has no strategic plan as it has strictly registration and regulatory functions.
The Registrar has responsibility to ensure that all the business of the Board is attended to as quickly and efficiently as is possible under the provisions of the Act.
The Board must also ensure that the provisions to the Veterinary Surgeons Act adequately reflect the changing attitudes of the veterinary profession and the general public.
The agency's performance is measured by its ability to introduce legislation which reflects the modern day attitudes of the profession and the community and to effectively administer that legislation in the way intended.
The effective administration of the legislation ensures that the users of veterinary services are provided with an acceptable standard of professional service by protecting them from incompetent or unfair practices. The professional qualification of a person employed to perform a veterinary procedure is assured.
The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is the body representing the profession in all matters relative to governmental issues which may affect them.
Membership of the AVA is voluntary and currently represents fifty to sixty per cent of resident Queensland veterinarians engaged in rural and companion animal practice, government employ and in veterinary teaching and research.
The AVA is invited by the Board to make submissions on issues which confront the Board and which may require a determination of policy.
Any review of the legislation requires prior consultation with not only the AVA but also with other veterinary industry organisations, non-veterinary industry organisations, educational institutions, animal welfare groups, Government and consumer organisations.
In the event that the provisions of the Veterinary Surgeons Act and associated Regulations do not address a situation clearly, the Veterinary Surgeons Board is able to determine a policy which in its opinion is the intent of the legislation.
The general public cannot participate in the policy making process but can contribute in the legislative review process by providing written comment on the discussion paper forwarded to consumer groups before any legislative change.
Effect of Agency's Functions on Members of the Community
The Board issues a registration certificate to all registered veterinary surgeons and veterinary specialists.
Approval in writing is given for use of premises for veterinary purposes.
Random inspections can be made of veterinary premises to ensure they meet the required standards.
Complaints relating to the professional conduct of veterinary surgeons in so far as their veterinary treatment of animals is concerned should be directed in writing to the Registrar, Veterinary Surgeons Board of Queensland, GPO Box 46, Brisbane 4001.
Complaints concerning the fees charged by veterinarians, or professional ethics should be directed to the Australian Veterinary Association.
A veterinary surgeon, the subject of a complaint to the Veterinary Surgeons Board is given the opportunity to respond to the allegations and the Board then determines whether investigations should continue or whether there is insufficient evidence to proceed in the matter.
If the Board considers there is sufficient evidence to support a case of professional misconduct the Board has various options including counselling the veterinarian, initiating misconduct proceedings or referring charges to the Veterinary Tribunal for hearing.
Documents available from the Veterinary Surgeons Board
The Register of Veterinary Surgeons is available for public inspection and a Roll of Veterinary Surgeons is printed annually and is available on request.
Copies of the Veterinary Surgeons Act and Regulations are available from Goprint and the legislation can be accessed via the Board website link to www.legislation.qld.gov.au
The minimum standards for veterinary premises as determined by the Board from time to time are distributed on request and can be accessed on the Board website www.vsb.qld.gov.au
An official Board newsletter is distributed to all registered veterinary surgeons on two to three occasions per year. This newsletter summarises any policy decisions made by the Board during the preceding period.
While the newsletter is primarily for the information of the veterinary profession, its supply to other persons will be considered on request.
Policy decisions are recorded and details can be mad available on request.
Access Arrangements, Procedures and Points of Contact
Requests for copies or access to the abovementioned documents and literature and applications under the Freedom of Information Act 1992 should be directed during business hours to the -
Veterinary Surgeons Board
C/- Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries
80 Ann Street
GPO Box 46
BRISBANE QLD 4001
The Registrar of the Veterinary Surgeons Board is the appointed officer to deal with applications made under the FOI Act.