South East Queensland is serviced by a number of vets. Nambour lies in the hinterlands of the Sunshine Coast, it’s 100 km north of Brisbane, other surrounding towns include Palmwoods, Bli Bli, Nambour, and Woombye; all of which are serviced by All Animal Vet, your Sunshine Coast vet.
Unfortunately Nhulunbury is not as lucky! The town of Nhulunbury is very happy about the arrival of a new vet to the small and secluded northern mining town, this relief has come after a year of uncertainty concerning the post-alumina refinery funding for pet owners, especially those with sick or old animals. The veterinary service has been suffering as of late but the help is here.
Since the slowing down of the Rio Tinto’s refining in the later part of 2013 there has been a clear shortage in full time veterinarians who service the town and this has been a large source of anger and upheaval; the problem being that Nhulunbury is very isolated,
Residents are welcoming the arrival of Dr Rob Cocking and the opening of his new veterinary clinic which will be open 4 days per week, Gove veterinary services. Cocking is a mixed practice specialist who has been a vet for well over 10 years. Together with a nurse for assistance, these 2 will make up the only veterinary clinic in the town.
Dr. Cocking has done much work all over Australia and The U.K and never has he seen a reaction such as that from the town of Nhulunbury; the residents are so excited and happy to have him there they are treating him almost like a celebrity. The people are just so relieved that they now have someone to help their sick animals without having to drive almost 15 hours to the nearest city.
Dr Susanna Samuelsson bought Gove Veterinary Services in 2009, however due to recessions and a weak market the oil refinery was curtailed and therefore many people and businesses left the small town, leaving it impossible for Samuelsson to afford the clinic on a full time basis, this happened in 2013. When the refinery shut down just over 10% of the population lost their jobs and therefore their income and source of livelihood; it was simply financially unfeasible for the veterinary clinic to stay open. Samuelson says they would have lost everything if they hadn’t of cut their losses. After this Samuelson only flew into Nhulunbury 3 times a month for people’s veterinary needs.
Samuelson thought that Rio Tinto might help them and that they of course would never let the service that the people needed so much just disappear since they did have a mining lease over the whole town. However this was not the case.
Veterinary services are considered non-essential and thus they are not open for government funding, something which seems quite confusing as the lives of our animals seem important enough to most. The government funded a 30,000 dollar study to see if it would be possible to merge the clinic with local council. The idea was rejected.
Before finally having to increase her prices, Samuelson did come up with the idea to have a locally and community owned and run veterinary clinic, this was also rejected because as much as the people seemingly want a vet, they didn’t want to pay for it either. The residents were not happy with the government, Rio Tinto, or Samuelson for that matter and these residents were very loud on social media and other networking platforms in regards to this.
Samuelson tried her best to get support and get something happening but everywhere she went she was stalled, pushed aside, and told to call a number instead; nobody seemed willing to help out the poor town and its animals.
Samuelson now charges over 117 dollars for her basic service but nonetheless people seem happy with the price increase seeing as they don’t have to fly their pets out of town anymore, that or choose to let them die. Even though the price is almost twice that of Dr. Cocking people seem to still be quite happy.
Everybody is really pleased that Dr. Cocking came along when he did because the town of Nhulunbury actually has at least a part time veterinary clinic for their sick and old pets. Cocking grew up in Victoria and decided to move to Nhulunbury when his wife took a job at the local hospital, it seemed like the perfect idea.
Rio Tonto actually made a statement saying that they indeed did support the town’s businesses including the veterinary clinic; this support was roughly $2000 per year.