The Office of the Australian Chief Veterinary Officer (OCVO) is a team of scientists and policy makers who support the Australian Chief Veterinary Officer (ACVO), Dr Mark Schipp.
The ACVO is the primary representative of, and advisor to, the Australian Government on all matters relating to the maintenance and improvement of Australia’s animal health status and the systems that support it.
The ACVO addresses major animal health issues of national interest, such as the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and enhancing trade and market access for animals and animal products.
What we do
The OCVO, in collaboration with the department and our external stakeholders, works to mitigate the risks and potential impacts of exotic animal diseases and enhance the protection of Australia’s animal health environment.
The ACVO mitigates threats to the Australian economy, and the productivity of Australia’s animal-dependent industries, by supporting and enhancing trade and market access for animals and animal products and representing the Australian Government on animal health issues of national interest.
World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH)
Dr Mark Schipp is Australia’s Delegate to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) and immediate past president of the WOAH World Assembly of Delegates. The OCVO coordinates Australia’s WOAH work and draws on the expertise of other Australian government departments and agencies, industry bodies and other experts on the issues under consideration.
Dr Mark Schipp leads Australian agriculture’s response to the global threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
At an international level, the department participates in several multilateral organisations and fora, like the Codex Alimentarius, WOAH, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, to collaborate on global efforts to combat AMR.
At a national level, the department works with the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care and other agencies such as the Food Standards Australia New Zealand, Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water and the Department of Industry, Science and Resources, as part of a coordinated response to combatting AMR.
Australia’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy – 2020 and Beyond was published in March 2020. It was developed in collaboration with stakeholders from human and animal health, agriculture, food, and environment sectors. By expanding its scope to include all relevant sectors and with a greater focus on a broad range of antimicrobials (antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitics), it aims to address the global threat of AMR through a One Health approach.
More information can be found on the Australian Government’s Antimicrobial Resistance website.
AMR Vet Collective: Veterinary Antimicrobial Stewardship (VetAMS) online learning program
The AMR Vet Collective was developed to translate the science behind antimicrobial resistance (AMR) into easily accessible, practical resources that veterinarians can use to better inform their prescribing decisions. The AMR Vet Collective website includes examples of AMR in animals, as well as prescribing support for veterinarians through decision trees and guidelines, and an online learning program.
The VetAMS online learning program provides educational materials which prepare participants to become leaders in veterinary antimicrobial stewardship. It also provides information to assist in prudent antimicrobial use. Veterinarians can earn Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points for every completed module - a registration requirement designed to ensure veterinarians maintain their skills and knowledge.
The 9 scenario-centred interactive modules of the course were released in 2021 and are available on the www.vetams.org website. An additional poultry-specific module was released in 2022. More industry-specific modules are being developed.
Australia’s Animal Sector Antimicrobial Resistance Action Plan
- Australian animal sector stakeholders agreed to provide strategic, national and coordinated support to the Australia’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy – 2020 and Beyond through an industry specific antimicrobial resistance (AMR) action plan.
- Developed by the animal sector for the animal sector, this plan includes a number of priority activities that stem from the One Health Master Action Plan and build on the animal sector’s already extensive work to address AMR.
- Consultation with key stakeholder groups has been undertaken. However, to ensure that this action plan is fit-for-purpose and practical, the draft action plan will be going out for wider consultation on the Departments Have Your Say platform. We welcome feedback on this plan from all members of the animal sector. For more information, go to Have Your Say - Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and keep an eye out for the draft plan.
Understanding antimicrobial prescribing behaviour in the veterinary industry
- There are many reasons why veterinarians may prescribe antimicrobials. Understanding these decisions helps to plan antimicrobial stewardship initiatives that target the main difficulties veterinarians face. The department has contracted the University of Melbourne to survey the prescribing decisions and attitudes of veterinarians and the expectations of their clients.
- The results from the survey will inform the development of communication and educational material that can aid vets in their decisions and encourage behavioural change.
Good news in AMR surveillance
- Over the last few years, the department has worked with some of our major livestock industries to assess the levels of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in animals.
- Pork, chicken meat and egg, barramundi and salmon industries have all taken part in surveillance studies over the last few years to assess the levels of AMR in each of their industries. Pleasingly, all studies showed that the level of AMR was either low or negligible against antimicrobials of human importance. These results are encouraging and showed that our animal industries provide little risk to AMR.
- The Australian livestock industry has a good reputation for demonstrating sound antimicrobial stewardship practices and ensuring the health and welfare of their animals is paramount. These surveys show that the good work being done by our farming sectors is resulting in positive outcomes—for the industry, for consumers and for the wider community. Reports for completed surveys are available on the websites of the participating industry peak bodies. There is always more that can be done, and our industries continue to lead the way.
World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 18 – 24 November 2022
World Antimicrobial Awareness Week is celebrated from 18 – 24 November every year, and highlights that AMR is a global human and animal health threat. During this week, the department collaborates with AMR stakeholders to increase awareness and resources for combatting this issue.
This year’s theme of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week: Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together is a reminder that using antibiotics inappropriately, increases drug resistance in the bugs we’re trying to kill. For more information go to the department's website on AMR.
About Dr Mark Schipp
In 2011 Dr Schipp was appointed Chief Veterinary Officer of Australia.
He is Australia’s Delegate at the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH). He completed a successful three-year term as President of the OIE World Assembly in May 2021 and remains a member of the WOAH Council until 2024.
Dr Schipp leads Australia’s national responses to emergency animal disease incursions. He works to strengthen the veterinary services of countries in our region, so they are able to detect and respond to emerging infectious diseases of concern to both human and animal health.
Dr Schipp studied both Biology and Veterinary Medicine and Surgery at Murdoch University, graduating in 1989. Since then, he has been working to protect Australia from exotic disease incursions and seeking opportunities to expand market access for our livestock and animal products.
After graduation Dr Schipp joined the Western Australia Department of Agriculture as a District Veterinary Officer. He then worked in export abattoirs in Western Australia, Victoria and Tasmania ensuring livestock presented for slaughter were healthy and the livestock products were suitable for export. Eventually he moved to Canberra to contribute to Australia’s export meat program at a national level.
Dr Schipp was posted overseas for six years—in Seoul, South Korea and then in Beijing, China where he opened the Agriculture Counsellor post at the Australian Embassy, Beijing and negotiated new market access for Australian agricultural products.
Dr Mark Schipp explains his role
Download the video as an MP4 MP4 [5.0 MB]
Download the audio of the video MP3 [2.3 MB]
The Chief Veterinary Officer of Australia represents Australia nationally and internationally on veterinary issues, animal health, animal biosecurity, so I’m the delegate for Australia to the World Organisation for Animal Health and I’m also fortunate enough to sit on the Council of the World Organisation so I represent our region as well as our country.
Nationally I represent the department and the national position on animal health and veterinary issues. In the event of an emergency disease outbreak, I chair the consultative committee on emergency animal diseases which brings together all of the state positions and the national position. We try and find a common position and bring that forward for decision and implementation.
I deal with the universities, the veterinary deans, to talk about the needs for veterinary education in the country. I deal with Foreign Affairs and Trade on what are the aid needs in our region, in terms of veterinary science or public health and capacity building in our region. So it’s quite a varied role and one that draws on a range of skills, but I’m very fortunate to have a large group of experts that sit around me and support me.
Consider a career as an Australian Government Veterinarian
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is a significant employer of veterinarians in Australia. If you are interested in an exciting, challenging and rewarding career, we encourage you to consider the opportunities that the department can offer.