Guidelines of the Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board of Victoria
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Guideline 23 - Practising in accordance with statutory obligations

This guideline outlines the appropriate standard expected of a registered veterinary practitioner in the course of veterinary practice. It should be read in conjunction with other related guidelines.

Context to Guideline 23: Practising in accordance with statutory obligations

A veterinary practitioner should be familiar with and maintain their knowledge of all laws, regulations, guidelines, codes and standards that affect their practice of veterinary science. The scope of relevant laws, codes, guidelines and standards is broad and administered by a range of authorities within the three levels of government.

The Veterinary Practice Act 1997 empowers the Board to register veterinary practitioners, to investigate the professional conduct or fitness to practice of registered veterinary practitioners and to issue guidelines on appropriate standards of veterinary practice and veterinary facilities.

There are a number of laws and regulations that impact the delivery of veterinary services including:
  1. the supply, dispensing and storage of poisons, medications and therapeutic substances
  2. control of the use, keeping and disposal of radioactive substances and ionising radioactive apparatus for therapeutic and diagnostic purposes
  3. animal welfare
  4. occupational health and safety
  5. biosecurity, and
  6. environmental protection, including waste disposal.
Additional standards and guidelines relevant to veterinary practice include:
  1. Victorian codes of practice for animal welfare
  2. Australian animal welfare standards and guidelines
  3. Rules of racing in Victoria.

The above lists are not exhaustive but serve to demonstrate the diversity of statutory instruments that regulate and impact the practice of veterinary science and the delivery of veterinary services. Laws and regulations relating to areas outside veterinary practice include obligations requiring veterinary practitioners and their employers to operate businesses to a standard expected by the public and relevant authorities.

Professional conduct under this guideline is demonstrated by the following:
23.1 A veterinary practitioner is familiar with and practises in accordance with legislation, codes and standards relevant to their practice of veterinary science and delivery of veterinary services. 
23.2 A veterinary practitioner ensures that they hold current relevant permits and licences necessary for them to deliver veterinary services.
A veterinary practitioner practises in a manner that adheres to the statutory obligations imposed on them by the Veterinary Practice Act 1997, the Veterinary Practice Regulations 2018 and Guidelines issued by the Board.
A veterinary practitioner practises in a manner so they do not commit offences described in the Veterinary Practice Act 1997.
A veterinary practitioner practises in a manner consistent with their category of registration and complies with any conditions imposed on their registration by the Board.

Related guidelines

Related legislation

Date of publication
In effect from 1 May 2021.

This material is current only at the time of publication and may be changed from time to time. The Board reviews and updates the Guidelines on a continuous basis to reflect changes in the science and knowledge base underpinning contemporary veterinary practice. The Board will take reasonable steps to inform the veterinary profession when such updates are released but it remains the responsibility of the individual veterinary practitioner to ensure that their knowledge and application of these Guidelines to their own practice is current.

While the Board has made every effort to ensure that the material in these Guidelines is correct in law, it shall not be liable to any veterinary practitioner or any other person or entity in relation to any claim, action or proceeding whatsoever (whether in contract, negligence or other tort or in proceedings seeking any other form of legal or equitable remedy or relief) for any inadequacy, error or mistake, or for any deficiency in the whole or any part of this document (including any updates incorporated in the document from time to time). A veterinary practitioner or any other person or entity acting upon the contents of this document acknowledges and accepts that this is the basis upon which the Board has produced these Guidelines and made them available to such person or entity.