The formation of the Post Graduate Foundation in Veterinary Science (PGF) at the University of Sydney in 1965 came about as a result of a group of forward-thinking veterinarians from industry, academia and government recognising, during the 1950s, the growing need for continuing veterinary education. This resulted in the world's first membership-based organisation dedicated to postgraduate veterinary education. A key initiative was organizing the delivery of regular refresher courses of two to five days’ duration. In the first year two courses were held and by 1996 there were 68. The organisation has evolved to cater for the changing needs of the veterinary profession and to accommodate the rapid changes in technology. Conferences and seminars have been supplemented by a range of practical workshops, short online courses and year long distance education courses.
In 1989 the organisation moved from the original offices in Pitt Street into new offices in the Veterinary Science Conference Centre at the University of Sydney. In 2008 the PGF was renamed the Centre for Veterinary Education to reflect its true nature and operation as a centre within The University of Sydney. As a centre it has continued to evolve and develop to suit the needs of the profession, with increasing participation of overseas veterinarians from Asia, Europe and North America in particular.
The CVE has always had an affiliation with the veterinary school at the University of Sydney, which has grown stronger since 2010 and continues to evolve as a symbiotic relationship with the Sydney School of Veterinary Science (SSVS). Many of the original speakers and presenters for the PGF were academics and clinical staff from the Faculty of Veterinary Science and this tradition has continued to the present day, with the ongoing involvement of many SSVS staff along with former staff and veterinary specialists from Australia and the rest of the world.
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The first director was Dr T.G. Hungerford OBE BVSc FACVSc HAD Fellow of the University of Sydney. Tom Hungerford led the profession with great distinction for many years and was responsible for expanding the practical application of veterinary science within the community, through his encouragement to veterinarians to embrace all aspects of animal health and production in keeping with their training.
Throughout his professional life Tom received many honours. The Queen made him an Officer of the Order of the British Empire; the University of Sydney conferred on him an Honorary Fellowship of the University and the profession continued to honour him in his retirement. In 1998 The Australian College of Veterinary Scientists honoured him with an oration delivered by Dr Douglas Bryden. All who knew Tom, and those who were so fortunate to work with him held a warm affection for him. The CVE honours him regularly through the T.G. Hungerford Award for Excellence in Post Graduate Education, an award conferred on those who have made a notable contribution to continuing veterinary education.
He was a prolific author and published a number of textbooks, of which the most popular "Diseases of Livestock" is available as the 9th edition.
Tom frequently enjoined vets to follow the ‘goanna track’ to success. Hence that term and the singularly Australian goanna motif often feature in CVE communications.
Tom died on 29 September 2007.
The CVE has long been associated with the goanna – or more specifically, with Tom Hungerford’s “Goanna Track to Success”. Tom’s theory was that the key to success was to identify an area of interest and devote time to it, listening, learning and building what he called a “tree of knowledge”. Now anyone familiar with a goanna can attest to the speed and agility with which they can scale a tree – to utilise Tom’s “Goanna Track” is to construct the tree and ascend it like a goanna. But once up the tree the goanna doesn’t decide to spend the rest of its life in the canopy; it takes what it can, then returns to the ground and finds another tree. Tom’s point was that climbing that tree offered a unique vantage point from which other opportunities for growth and development could be identified. It is in this spirit that the CVE continues to offer courses in many different aspects of veterinary practice, in forms that suit everyone – whether you have a spare hour, day, month or year to invest in building your tree of knowledge. The CVE is dedicated to empowering the veterinary profession through education: enhancing confidence, competence, wellbeing and welfare globally since 1965.
In 1987, Tom Hungerford, was succeeded as Director by Dr Douglas Bryden. Doug conducted a mixed practice in Tamworth, NSW for many years. He was a founding member of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists, the first Chairman of the Cattle Chapter, and President of the College in 1987/88, As Director, Doug instigated the Distance Education programs, with the first courses started in 1991. These intensive courses have now grown to be recognised as world-class education for veterinarians.
In 1994 Doug was awarded the Gilruth Prize, the highest honour of the AVA. He left the PGF in March 2000 to enjoy a well-earned retirement. Doug was appointed a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia in recognition of his work in veterinary science, notably in the fields of continuing education and clinical practice. Sadly he died in November 2019.
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Dr Bill Howey was Director from 2000 to 2002. His strong background in veterinary practice and education proved invaluable to the PGF. Bill, at the time of his appointment, was no stranger to the PGF. He had served as a Veterinary Consultant to the Foundation since 1996 and as Associate Director in 1999. As consultant he was involved in producing over 80 ‘TimeOut' seminars throughout Australia which were attended by over a thousand veterinary delegates. He was also closely involved in the planning and delivery of some major courses, specifically equine.
Bill's fine sense of equity, his openness and kindness have contributed as a lasting legacy continuing the tradition of supporting the members of the veterinary community with the best quality continuing education.
Bill retired for health reasons after two years, resigning in August 2002.
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In May 2002 Dr Michele Cotton became acting Director until December 2003, when she was appointed Director of the Post Graduate Foundation.
Michele’s extensive career in veterinary practice in Australia and Saudi Arabia encompassed both large and small animal veterinary medicine and surgery, zoo animals, wildlife, teaching and research. Having been a solitary practitioner for much of her professional career and a grateful recipient of PGF support, she was aware of its importance to veterinarians worldwide.
Under Michele’s leadership the innovative online course, TimeOnline, was developed in 2006. In October the same year a continuing education program for veterinary nurses was launched. This was a series of specially designed annual workshops, and 70 vet nurses attended the first course ‘Intensive Care and Anaesthesia—A Nursing Perspective’.
Michele was a strong guardian of the directorship until she left in November 2007 to pursue other career options. Michele succumbed to the effects of rapidly progressing motor neurone disease in December 2019.
Hugh has been the Director of the CVE since March 2008, having served on the PGF / CVE Council before his appointment. Prior to 2008 he had spent 35 years as an owner or partner in predominantly mixed regional practices, initially in Kempsey then in Armidale in NSW.
Following his graduation in early 1973, he worked in dairy practice prior to travelling the well-worn kangaroo route to the UK, where he worked with small animals and horses in particular. This was followed by the completion of a master’s project by research in equine reproduction at the University of Sydney, prior to purchasing the practice in Kempsey in 1977.
In 1985 he and his young family moved inland to Armidale to establish a new practice, which was not sold until 2007. In 1989 he gained membership of the ANZCVS in equine medicine. Hugh and Sally were married in 1989, continue to celebrate happy anniversaries together and are the proud parents of three lovely daughters, and blessed with four grandchildren.
Dr Hugh White retired in May 2021.
Promoted to CVE Director in 2021, Simone has already established strong relationships with both the CVE team and the wider veterinary community it serves. Two key goals are: implementing innovative and engaging ways of delivering continuing veterinary education to a diverse audience and nurturing the CVE community as an independent, member-centric organisation. Simone’s background is primarily in shelter medicine, having started as a new graduate at the RSPCA’s Yagoona clinic where she worked for many years, before moving on to become Chief Veterinarian of Animal Welfare League NSW. She had a stint in media including a column in Sydney’s Sun Herald newspaper, a regular television role and radio. Simone loves many aspects of general small animal practice: soft tissue surgery, building rapport with clients, program delivery in disadvantaged communities, shelter medicine and the odd goat castration. Simone is passionate about education and communication and is keen to explore new ways of connecting with the CVE community.