In August 2019, a veterinarian posted a question to a Facebook group:
A few weeks later a team of six had formed and we knew that the idea had merit, but what could we do? Were we satisfied with being a Facebook page or an AVA Special Interest Group? Did we want a loose collective of people who did media work, or should we lobby politicians directly? A month later we'd agreed to aim high and establish a professional, staffed climate advocacy organisation; Vets for Climate Action.
Our organisation owes our gratitude to the incredible dedication of our founders; Ben Cox, Jeannet Kessels, Angela Frimberger, Gary Beilby, Ghundi Rhoades and Katrin Swindells. Later, Tiffany Jacobs also played a significant role in getting us established.
Jeannet, Angela and Gary became our founding Board members. Ben would go on to become our founding CEO, working tirelessly to establish the organisation and secure funding. It was more than six months before we could pay him, and we thank him for his amazing passion and energy in getting this organisation started!
By Christmas we had a website, we were registered as a charity and on Boxing Day, Gundhi wrote an opinion piece that gathered attention around the world. Vets for Climate Action was off the ground!
The year of 2020 - Scaling Up and Our First Wins
2020 was a year of establishment and setting up the foundation for our success. At an organisational level we were focusing on developing our strategy, securing funding and empowering teams of volunteers. By the end of the year we had grown to approximately thirty volunteers across three or four teams.
We had several significant wins across the year. These included:
- Professor Peter Doherty, the only veterinarian to win a Nobel Prize, offered to become our Patron
- We established a MOU with the Australian Veterinary Association, agreeing to work together on climate
- We held a weekend strategy camp, from which our first volunteer teams formed
- We held multiple online seminars to educate the animal care sector on the impact of climate on animal welfare.
- We formed a team of 18 former Chief Veterinary Officers who gathered a lot of attention when they wrote a letter to the Prime Minister calling for action.
- We made multiple media appearahces and submissions to various government portals.
Towards the end of 2020 we secured a donation sufficient for us to hire a second staff member, and a few months later we welcomed Alix Foster Vander Elst to her role of Campaigns and Communications Director.
Read our 2020 Annual Report here.
Logging into our Strategy Camp, August 2020
The Year of 2021 - Consolidation and Impact
In 2021 we revisited our Strategic Plan and focused on seeing the veterinary and profession and animal care community to:
- decarbonises as much as possible;
- exercise their democratic power for climate action, and;
- inspire the people we engage with to advocate for and take climate action
To reach these goals we restructured our volunteer teams, creating a new Industry and Policy Teams.
Meanwhile, our volunteers continued to make an impact:
- We coordinated a huge social meadia outreach project for zoos and animal organisations across the country
- We continued our work in media and submissions to government
- We visited the halls of Canberra calling for action
- We continued to jump onto opportunities to create change, such as during the hearings for Zali's climate bill, the release of IPCC's AR6 report and the flooding in NSW.
|Two VfCA volunteers at a Taronga Zoo event commemorating the animals lost in the bushfires, and calling for action on climate|
In June we secured funding to hire our third staff member, this time to run our ClimateSmart hospital sustainability program.
By August 2021 our volunteer teams had grown to more than fifty active individuals, and we continue to expand every day.
Take Climate Action today and protect the animals, country, and world that you love. Donate or come onboard and work with us for a better tomorrow: