The AVA Annual Conference is the nation’s premier veterinary event, covering all fields of veterinary science and in 2017 brought together over 920 veterinary professionals and 115 exhibitors.

We hope you will join us for the 2018 AVA Annual Conference in Brisbane, 13-18 May.    
Visit conference.ava.com.au to register.    To download a pdf file of the entire program click here.
Tuesday, May 15 • 10:45am - 11:45am
The customer isn't always right: Why business ethics is not professional ethics

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The standards and ethics of a good business leader may not be the same as those of a good professional. For example, finding a competitive advantage in the market may involve misleading the opposition, patenting trade secrets and skills and doing other things that may not be in the best interests of consumers and other businesses. Good professionals on the other hand will usually share specialist skills and knowledge with each other and will act in such a way as to achieve what is in their clients’ and patients’ best interest. Professionals owe a special duty of care to their patients or clients, have special duties to other professionals and responsibilities to society. While a business often strives to provide customers with what they want, a profession will aim to provide what is right and appropriate not what is wanted. For veterinarians, who have as their first priority the care of the animal, this priority can bring them into conflict with economic interests or the interests of the animal’s owner. In many ways the professional life of veterinarians is more complex and more likely to provide opportunities for conflict than the lives of other professionals. The law and codes of conduct relating to veterinarians provide an ethical framework to ensure that veterinarians work in an ethical environment and are designed to ensure that where conflicts occur the interests of the patient or the safety of the public have priority over the needs of the business. The idea of business ethics is fairly recent, most likely in response to scandals. Some firms have adopted business ethics programs whilst others maintain that there is no distinct business ethics and that the ethical principles applied elsewhere in society should apply equally to business. For many the purpose of business is seen to run counter to the principles of a healthy society. Protesters such as those who occupied Wall Street in 2011 and ‘Occupy’ protesters have argued that much of business has lost sight of the societal perspective. The need to maintain a financially viable practice creates unique ethical dilemmas for veterinarians faced with increasing demands from animal owners and the gulf between expectations and costs. In such a setting, veterinarians have a responsibility to ensure that professional ethics inform business decision-making.


Tanya Stephens

Haberfield Veterinary Hospital
Small animal practitioner and practice owner, wildlife researcher, an MANZCVS in Animal Welfare and MSc International Animal Welfare Ethics and Law (Edinburgh). Past member of the NSW Veterinary Surgeons Board. Long term member of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Past and... Read More →

Tuesday May 15, 2018 10:45am - 11:45am
Mezzanine M3 Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre