Make a difference every day, not just today.

R U OK… Three simple words that can mean all the difference for about 20% of the population (if not more). That’s about 5,109,328 Australians who experience a mental illness in any given year.

With Covid affecting our everyday lives significantly, this number could be even higher.

I was visiting my doctor the other week. As you can imagine with Covid about, the reception staff were wearing the brunt of all the upset patients. So it was really lovely to learn that my doctor had spent a little time with the staff, supporting them and being that compassionate ear.

BUT it’s not just the disgruntled people that can bring you down. Its also the changes in life, illness in the family, fights with your loved ones, breakups, and so many other things.

I work a lot in this support realm within my capacity as a Peer Support Officer for the State Emergency Service. Sometimes it is related to an activation and other times it‘s something completely unrelated to the job. It is an honour to be trusted with the confidentiality of my fellow colleagues for what they are experiencing.

Sometimes it’s just being that compassionate ear, other times it’s affirming that what they are experiencing is very normal. Most importantly, it is recognising that what they are dealing with may benefit from speaking with a professional.

These days the health of your mind is becoming more of an open conversation and it’s ok not to be ok. Caring for the health of your mind is just as important as your car getting serviced, or getting that morning cuppa while it’s hot.

Please Ask…. Listen…. Encourage further help…. And check in again to see how it is all going.

Set yourself up right. It is not just about asking the question, it’s about listening with an open mind, not trying to fix them or pass judgement. Ask them “how would you like me to support you” or “How have you managed this in the past?” Then set a reminder for a couple of weeks to check in, see how they are. If you think this is a big issue or they have been feeling down for a few weeks, encourage them to see a health professional.

You can make a difference every day, not just today.

How does your workplace foster good mental health?

CATastrophic Quarantine


Gee what a ride it has been so far. When restrictions hit a few months ago, it saw much of the world closed down, we started working from home if we could, and adjusting to that in itself was a mission. For the most part the veterinary world stayed much the same, so let’s have a chat about our patient’s worlds. The dogs and cats at home.

Dr Tracey Henderson, founder of Australian Veterinary Behaviour Services and educator extraordinaire at VetPrac’s Bootcamp Workshop on October 16-18, 2020, covered a lot of this information during a Vet Expo free webinar the other week. She wanted to share it with the VetPrac community, because she whats to help your patients. It is really eye opening how important the changes of working from home and the transition as we return to the office again effect our pets/patients.  You might already be able to count on one hand the patients that will struggle mentally when their owner goes back to the office.

How our pets might be feeling with the ‘current situation’ with COVID restrictions:


For most pets, their world was rocked and turned upside down when COVID restrictions were introduced.

Structure and routine is very important to our pets, so changes in general can be challenging – more so for some than others.

The changes that households have experienced since COVID restrictions may include:

  • Family members working from home every day
  • Babies/toddlers/children at home every day
  • Whereas ‘pre-COVID’ the pets may have spent 8 hours a day, 5 days a week at home alone (sometimes less, sometimes more!).


The changes that the pet might directly experience as a result of the household changes may include:

  • Less ‘alone’ time some pets might really enjoy having 8 hours a day alone to snooze. For some of these pets having children/adults home 24/7 could cause quite a bit of stress.
  • Less quality daytime sleepsleep is important for mental and physical wellbeing. Note – some pets won’t be impacted by this and will continue to sleep well.
  • Lack of routinepets thrive on structure and routine, and lack/change of can cause an increase in anxiety levels.
  • Increase in frequency of walksthis could be beneficial for some dogs that enjoy walks, however for other dogs that are reactive/anxious on walks this could increase their anxiety levels on a daily basis.
  • More play, social and mental stimulationagain this could be beneficial for some pets, however others may feel exhausted from this.
  • Increased foot traffic passing the house due to more people out walkingthis is often a problem for dogs that display territorial behaviour. This can result in them being ‘on guard’ all day, and thus cause reduced sleep and increased anxiety.
  • More smells of disinfectantsdogs and cats can smell 1000X stronger than humans. Smell also plays a very important role in their communication.

These changes may have both positive and negative impacts on a pet and will vary between each individual.

How do we identify if our pets are having a difficult time with our current living??


They can’t communicate in English with us, so it is important we can understand the way they communicate.

Some signs that pets are finding life stressful might include:


  • Pacing, difficulty settling and resting
  • ‘Needier’ or clingy behaviour towards their humans
  • Increased barking
  • Increased agitation/aggression



  • Less interactive with the family
  • Hiding, lack of activity
  • Easily startled
  • Excessive grooming
  • Urine spraying, toileting outside the litter tray
  • Increased agitation/aggression.


If owners feel that their pet is struggling with the current change, then it is best to get professional help ASAP. Because then the pet can be ‘set up to succeed’ when the family structure/routine changes again when restrictions are eased.

Some pets may not be experiencing any signs of stress or negative impact at this stage – these are the pets that are likely loving having their humans with them 24/7. These pets however may be more likely to develop stress and anxiety when restrictions do ease and they are suddenly left home alone for longer hours.

How to set up our pets for success when restrictions ease:


It is important to prepare our pets in advance – it is better to be ‘proactive’.

  • Routines – change routines gradually to mimic ‘post-COVID’ life
  • Alone time – ensure pets are routinely being left alone for short periods, in a similar manner/routine as they would when owners are at work for the day. It is important for our pets to help them to retain their skills for coping when alone. This can be difficult when owners are at home working – but even if they can go for a short drive or a walk without their pet on a semi regular basis.
  • Enrichment – ensure the pet has mental enrichment in the forms of food dispensing toys, chew, and toys (whatever the pet enjoys). This is important when being left alone, to help the pet be distracted and enjoy their time alone.
  • Camera – there are many different video cameras available now. How do we know what the pet is doing when they are alone? We don’t want to rely on obvious information such as destruction or escaping. It is important to be able to identify the more subtle signs that the pet is not coping, so that help can be sought early on.
  • Safe place – it is important for pets to have a ‘safe place’ – somewhere they can go that is secure and they enjoy. For some dogs this may be a kennel, crate or a certain room of the house, where they may choose to rest. It is important when being left alone they have access to such an area also.


What can we learn from COVID restrictions? ….The days are long!


We have experienced now what it is like to be restricted at home, 24/7. This is what our pet’s life is on a daily basis. Most people are working really hard to maintain some physical and mental stimulation as well as social connections – these are all really important basic needs for humans to ensure wellness. Please keep in mind what our pets experience when we suddenly go back to ‘life’ and they are left alone for long periods again. They need mental, physical and social enrichment just like we do, so please ‘don’t drop the ball’ and forget about this when life goes back to ‘normal’.

If pet behaviour is something that interests you or you just want to be better equipped to help your patients in clinic, join us at Bootcamp 2020, where the first day is dedicated to animal behaviour with Dr Tracey Henderson and Tracy Irons.

REGISTER HERE                                READ MORE HERE


How can we action sustainable practice?

One of our core VetPrac values is “People First”.

VetPrac participants learn by doing and we bridge the gap between learning the theory and performing the clinical skills in a supervised practical setting. Perhaps the most important aspect of “People First” is that our workshops are not just about two facts: theory and practice. What sets us apart is that we provide people with a whole experience during our VetPrac workshops. This is centred on our community and it’s about gathering together and celebrating lifelong learning through education, food, connection, conversation and contribution.

Many ideas, words, items, videos, and articles have come to me in the last few months. Like so many other people on our planet we have had to change our mindset, be more creative, and strategise, not just about the future, but our here and right now. The VetPrac team has had to rethink our world and our work, and we’ve done this largely using online media.

With the plethora of information at our disposal a lot of it resonates; I’d like to share a few pieces from three amazing individuals, that really struck a chord for me. Stephen Bent, my amazing, socially aware and environmentally conscious husband, showed me an article from the website The Conversation. Wayne Boardman, a wonderful colleague and outstanding veterinarian, posted this Video on Facebook. The third piece of information came from my 14 year old son, James Bent, while we were building our vegetable garden yesterday. He has also been following Greta Thunberg and is deeply affected by the disturbing reality of our planet’s demise. James said, “Mum we have 10 years to halve emissions worldwide” and then he quoted Greta, “and that will give us a 50% chance of avoiding an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, that will most likely lead to the end of our civilisation as we know it.” He is also thinking hard about what he can do.



So, what can I do? What can VetPrac do?

My plan is to act now, and with each step we will decrease our environmental impact. VetPrac’s core value of “People First” now has a dual purpose and meaning. We will continue to bridge the gap between learning and doing, and at the same time we will be reducing our emissions in our effort to help save our planet.


Some of the immediate changes for VetPrac are:

* Ask all participants to bring their own reusable water bottles and coffee cups, or pre-register to buy a reusable coffee cup at the workshop

* Continue to have water jugs with glassware (or to refill personal water bottles)

* Phase out the use of plastic conference envelopes and substitute them with either recycled paper envelopes or the equivalent with sustainably sourced natural fibre.

* Continue to recycle plastic name tags and as they decrease in number introduce cardboard name badges

* Print on sustainably sourced paper

* All printing going forward will be using a printer powered by solar energy


This is our beginning, and we will grow with this. What’s yours?



Anaesthesia and the Geriatric Patient [video]

There’s still time to register for our next “Learn with Margie” Zoom Rounds. Join Margie at 7.30pm EST on Wednesday 8th April 2020. We’ll kick things off with a brief presentation and then we’ll open the floor for a group discussion about the Geriatric Patients.

We hope you can join us!


💡 The next topic is: Geriatric Anaesthesia

🗓 Wednesday 8th April from 7.30pm EST

📍 Online in a private zoom meeting


🚨 Places are limited so register now to secure your spot!

⬇️ Check out Margie’s latest vlog.

Small Group Zoom Rounds- Thank You

Thank you to everyone who has signed up for our “Learn with Margie – Zoom Rounds” on April 1st, 2020, 7:30pm AEST. Your response has been absolutely incredible and the Zoom Rounds were filled in just under 1 hour from the official release! This is FANTASTIC, and a heartfelt THANK YOU for your interest in animal welfare through anaesthesia and pain management, and your willingness to engage in this discussion. Our small group Zoom Rounds will run every week for a modest fee, and they are specifically designed for 20 participants, to enhance engagement and discussion. As these are specifically for you I will embrace your feedback and I am open to any possibilities. So let me know what you think. Please talk with me via email (, phone or text (+61 409 743 100). I am looking forward to discussing this with you!

Dr Margie McEwen invites you to a FREE VetPrac Zoom Rounds Q&A

Join Margie in a weekly Zoom Rounds Q&A from April 1st 2020, and our first one is FREE!

This opportunity is for veterinarians, technicians & nurses, and students, to collaborate and share ideas for clinical anaesthesia practice.

Watch the video for a very special message from Margie and scroll down to register.

We wish you the best of health.



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Being Human in a Digital Age

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for letting me use this forum to express my thoughts during this difficult time. When I handed the reins of VetPrac over to Margie, I knew I would miss the wonderful contact I have had with you over the last 12yrs.

I have been watching Australian Border Force comments on SBS this morning and it’s inspired me to comment about crucial conversations.


We seem to live in an age when everyone (until recently) has a job and a role, and people are committed to their roles. We live in a digital separated age when protocols are followed, and people don’t make time to talk to each other.

It is ever more important we talk to each other. The thing which has defined humanity against all other species is our capacity to cooperate and communicate. But the thing that makes us all really special is our capacity to think beyond our habits and initiate new plans and ideas to support our progress and survival.

Listening to the Border Police Chief saying that their staff don’t have training in taking temperatures bamboozled me. Hearing that a Chinese doctor informed authorities in December about a new emerging disease and that it was ignored is eyebrow raising.

But this stuff isn’t uncommon. It happens all the time. We always try to form a protocol to cover our asses, but let’s be honest, NOTHING helps in an emergency better than people talking to each other in a way that enables cooperation and collaboration. So much information can be conveyed, and so much more achieved when we do.

If you are stuck at the clinic or at home right now, consider listening to the publication crucial conversations. It might help you save a life and prevent the spread of disease as well as help your whole team band together during this challenging time.

Warm Regards


Important ATO advice for small business owners

It’s been an unsettling couple of weeks in Australia and as we begin to understand where we stand and what we have to do in our daily lives, we start to think about our family and business. There is a lot of information circulating on social media, emails and websites. It can get quite overwhelming at times. We have to pulled together the current and reliable information to try and help shine some light on the business support measures being offered.

The Australian Government has announced a range of measures to support small to medium businesses with cash flow and to help retain employees in this challenging climate.

~ Prepared by Roslyn Sheen, VetPrac Bookkeeping


Boosting cash flow for employers


The Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure will provide up to $25,000 back to business, with a minimum payment of $2,000 for eligible business. The payment will provide temporary cash flow support to small and medium businesses that employ staff. The payment will be tax free.


Small and medium business entities with an annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers will be eligible.

Eligible businesses that withhold tax to the ATO on their employees’ salary and wages will receive a credit equal to 50% of the amount withheld up to a maximum of $25,000.

Eligible businesses that pay salary and wages will receive a minimum payment of $2,000, even if they are not required to withhold tax.

This is available on a limited number of Activity Statements:
~ Quarter 3 (January, February & March 2020). Lodgement date: 28th April 2020
~ Quarter 4 (April, May & June 2020). Lodgement date: 28th July 2020

The payment will be delivered by the Australian Taxation Office as a credit in the Activity Statement system from 28th April 2020 upon businesses lodging eligible upcoming activity statements.

Businesses that lodge monthly instead of quarterly will receive their refund for March 2020, April 2020, May 2020 and June 2020 lodgements automatiucally within 14 days of lodgement pending qualifying criteria.


By reducing the amount businesses need to pay on their quarterly BAS, the ATO are providing assistance to business owners to support operation and employment in this vital section of our community.


ATO Leniency
Perhaps more time to pay your tax obligations can help….
The government is also offering administrative relief for certain tax obligations, including deferring payments up to four months. This is worked out on a case-by-case basis and you will need to contact the ATO directly.


Supporting apprentices and trainees

Do you have an apprentice or trainee in your business?

Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of an apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for up to 9 months from 1st January to 30th September 2020. Businesses can be reimbursed up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice.


Delivering support for business investment

Upgrades to equipment or planning for your team to work from home

The instant asset write-off will be increased from $30,000 to $150,000. This higher threshold is in place from 12th March until 30th June 2020 and applies to new or second-hand assets installed in businesses during these dates. This can certainly help if your business is planning to upgrade assets and is concerned about outlays vs return at this time.


We hope that this information can provide some support moving forward. Below are some links to reliable references where you can get more information and advice if needed. As a community, VetPrac is here to support you wherever we can. It certainly makes me smile to see how many clinics are adapting to this current climate in order to overcome the considerable hurdles, with the ultimate goal to still give clients and pets the best possible care. Good on Ya’ 😀


Australian Government: The Treasury

Australia Government:



VetPrac COVID-19 Policy

Dear VetPrac Community,

In light of the daily changes in government policies on COVID-19 I want to reach out to our amazing VetPrac Community and update you regarding our policy for workshops and refunds.

Here at VetPrac we have decided to work in a positive space and plan for the global situation to stabilise soon. As such we are planning to continue with our excellent educational workshops in 2020.

On the flip side we do have to be realistic as we plan for the rest of the year, and we have decided, for the short term, to alter the current Terms and Conditions. Please know that “fees are refundable for cancellations provided the cancellation is made in writing to VetPrac at least 30 days (previously 45 days) prior to the commencement date of the Training Course”.

If a workshop is not able to proceed due to COVID-19 restrictions, we will be in touch with you immediately and the outcome will be one of the following:

1.The workshop will be postponed, and we can do one of the following:

a) Hold your funds for when the workshop is rescheduled

b) Refund your money minus credit card processing fee if the new date does not suit.

2.The workshop will be cancelled, and you will receive a refund minus the credit card processing fee.

Our philosophy is to help people learn and to run our workshops, so cancelling will indeed be the last option.

As things are changing on a daily basis, I am observing the reactions of panic and fear in our society and around the globe and feel this is exacerbating the situation. So, this is a heartfelt request to urge you to stay calm and not make any decisions until we know more.

If people cancel and the situation resolves, we may not be able to run our workshops due to low numbers. Please trust that I will honour my commitment to be in communication with you as changes occur, and to provide refunds where COVID-19 restrictions prevent a workshop from taking place.

Overall, I want to reassure all of our amazing VetPrac Community that we are here for you. We are looking towards a positive future and to the time when we’ll look back on the COVID-19 pandemic as a thing of the past, with a low risk for infection in our communities, with treatments available and a vaccine to protect us.

Please contact me via email, phone 0409 743 100, or text if you have any more questions.

Please stay safe and healthy
With warm wishes, always






Dr Abbie Tipler: An inspirational surgeon

VetPrac is delighted to welcome back Dr Abbie Tipler as an educator at the Fix the Face workshop at UQ Gatton on 2nd-4th October 2020. When Abbie first joined VetPrac as an educator in 2018, she was working as a surgeon in general practice. Since then, she’s taken a giant leap into a small animal surgical residency at Veterinary Specialist Services (VSS), Brisbane.

Meet Dr Abbie Tipler – surgery resident, passionate educator, charity worker, and last but not least, mother of 2 small children. She appears to have mastered the juggling act of professional life with motherhood and even has something left over to give back to the veterinary and general community.

Let’s find out how Abbie manages life as a resident and a mother of 2 young children, and still has time for charity work!

Tell us a little about your residency at VSS and how you’ve adjusted to life as a resident in a very large referral practice.
“Residency life with two little ones is very busy! But I love my job, so this makes the adjustment a lot easier. There were also many skills I picked up in general practice that prepared me for referral practice, such as teamwork, client communication and history taking, so it was less of an adjustment than if I had started straight from veterinary school.”

You must be a very busy woman having young children and doing a residency. Any advice on how to create a good work life balance, and balancing parenting with work?
“Balancing parenting with working requires you to be highly organised and have a lot of support. I am lucky in that my husband has flexible hours and can work from home, so the kids drop off/pick-ups are made easy. Finding the right balance however is extremely challenging. It is something I think any working mother finds tough and I am certainly no exception to this rule!”

What do you enjoy about teaching?
“I absolutely love the thought that I could make a vets’ life easier or inspire them to try something different or learn a new skill.”

Abbie has been involved in several charities such as Pets in the Park, and Elephants Rhinos People.

For those of you that may be unfamiliar with Pets in the Park, we encourage you to watch this interview Abbie did with the co-founder of Pets in the Park, Dr Mark Westman. We challenge you to be inspired to offer your services in the future.


Abbie’s words about the charity:Pets in the Park is a brilliant charity that vets can get involved in, which treats the pets of the homeless. It is a great way to meet other vets in your area that you may not directly work with, and to give back to the less fortunate. I was blown away by how loved these pets are, and how grateful their owners were for our time. It was a great experience.”


Abbie truly is passionate about surgery and education of the veterinary profession, and gives back to the profession and indeed the general community in many ways.

Abbie is looking forward to sharing her passion for surgery with you at the Fix the Face workshop. Registrations for Fix the Face: Brachycephalic and Ear Surgery are open. This practical workshop for veterinarians is proving to be very popular and filling quickly so register now to secure your spot.

Dr Abbie Tipler can be contacted at or on Facebook.

Register now for this workshop with Dr Abbie Tipler, Dr Charles Kuntz, Dr Tania Banks & Dr Kat Crosse. Registrations are limited and filling.