Monthly Catch-up: Paula Parker
25 Aug 2017
This month we caught up with Paula Parker, President of the Australian Veterinary Association to chat about her new position and what inspires her –
Being the organisation’s youngest president in 100 years is quite an achievement. How did you feel when the official announcement was made?
A combination of relieved and excited. The board has been working on our succession plan as part of our governance process over the last 18 months. This is a time of enormous change in our profession and our organisation, and embracing that change is the key to our ongoing leadership in animal health and welfare.
As the AVA approaches its centenary in 2021 and my generation of leaders takes a move visible role, we need to continue to honour the heritage of our profession and our organization while at the same time ensuring that Australia’s world leadership in animal health and welfare is maintained well into the next century.
What inspired you to work in the Veterinary Field?
My family has a background in medicine and the armed services. The value of service to the community was instilled in me at a very young age. I can’t remember ever wanting to be anything else besides a veterinarian. I can remember bounding up to the front of the class all curls and pink cheeks to announce to my classmates on the first day of primary school that ‘My name is Paula and I am going to be a vet’.
Our members inspire me daily. I was fortunate when I first graduated to work in a fantastic mixed practice in Gippsland. The veterinarians I worked with were part of the fabric of the community. In my position in the AVA, I am continually humbled by the contributions that our members make to their communities in both veterinary and non-veterinary capacities. Animal health and agriculture are the glue that binds rural communities together. That and AFL.
Do you have any career highlights?
Being elected the President of AVA by our board is the highlight of my career to date. I think everyone has moments that they remember as career defining. I remember attending an outbreak of nitrate poisoning in a dairy heard when I first moved to Gippsland. It was cold and raining (as it often is in Gippsland) and most of the heard were affected, some very severely, staggering and collapsing in the paddock. Responding to the outbreak was sheer adrenaline. The most satisfying part was seeing our team of vets work with the farmers and their team to investigate the outbreak and put in place a range of animal health and herd management practices that set them up for impressive performance the following season.
What is your vision for the organization moving forward?
The vision for our organisation and our members is to be the health and welfare leaders of Australia’s animal industries. At the moment, the AVA is going through a period of enormous change to help facilitate this vision. Our digital presence is undergoing a massive transformation, the end result will be a two-website foot print, one facing all of the animal health stakeholders and a members site, both that are content driven, personalised and easy to transact with where people have the latest thinking on animal health at their fingertips.
Leadership for the AVA is also about the daily actions of all of our members. If every farmer has a partnership with their vet where they create and evolve biosecurity and heard management plans that add value and deliver best farming practices we will be a long way to achieving our vision.