The AVRA Directors & Council

Council members comprise of Associate Veterinary Receptionists (AVRs) who have been elected or appointed by the council at the AVRA annual general meeting (AGM).

Board members, whether elected or appointed, are expected to attend between 3 or 4 Board meetings every year where they will be responsible for making a variety of decisions. Including;

  • Holding consultations and making decisions on matters of importance on behalf of veterinary receptionists nationally.
  • Representing AVRA at outside organisations (such as conferences) and at meetings, as requested or agreed with the AVRA President or Directors.
  • To represent AVRA members, in a polite, professional and supportive manner.
  • Attend the annual AVRA Congress.
  • To vote on agenda items.

How to become a AVRA Board Member

Nominations for the 2024 Council will be open early 2024. Only Associate Veterinary Receptionists will be able to apply by completing an online application form.

AVRA Council

Ashleigh Bligh

AVRA Council President

I began my career in the Veterinary Industry  as the first and only receptionist for Snowy Vets in 2012. With no prior knowledge or skills in the industry I took on a steep learning curve to understand as much as possible about veterinary care.

Over the years my role developed into other areas of the business. Taking on extra responsibilities in client communications, admin and marketing. As the business grew my role changed and I spent less time on the desk and more time in a management position.

The knowledge I have gained  makes me want to do more for the industry as a whole. I do believe receptionists strengthen the relationship between a client and a clinic, they take the time to listen and build trust, reducing  some of the pressure on our veterinarians.

I am excited for the journey ahead with AVRA and the empowerment we can provide to Veterinary Receptionists  across Australia and New Zealand. The potential this association has for a positive impact in the wider Veterinary Industry is something I’ve always wanted to be a part of.

When I’m not at work I love spending time at home with my husband and 2 young kids, as well as our 2 Devon Rex cats. We love getting outdoors bush walking and enjoying sunshine.

Shauna James

AVRA Council Vice-President

I entered the animal care industry 15 years ago as I was just a girl who loved her dog – “Newman” a crazy and very personable Border Collie. Over the last 15 years I have worked in a variety of roles from research, Zoo’s, rural practice, tele triage and emergency and critical care nursing.

I have completed my Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing and a Post Graduate Certificate in Captive Vertebrate Management through Charles Sturt University. Currently, I am studying a Certificate IV in Project Management as well as regular CPD to keep up my Veterinary Nurse registration.

My passion and main drive has always been to help people best care for their animals, educate them and be there to support them during the tough times. I am thrilled to be a part of the AVRA and cannot wait to connect with other like-minded people to provide support to our Veterinary Receptionists.

Deb Render

AVRA Council Learning & Development Advisor

I started my nursing career on the South Coast of England straight from school and qualified as a Vet Nurse in 1987. After working in both mixed practice and a small animal referral hospital I moved into a role as Veterinary Business Manager for a global veterinary nutrition company where I developed an interest in Customer Service, Marketing and Management.  In 1999 I moved to Australia,  where I took up a role as practice manager in a 5 vet mixed practice west of Brisbane. During the 15 years I managed and co-owned the practice we expanded to a 3 clinic group.

I am passionate about delivering outstanding customer service and truly believe that if we build strong relationships with our clients, our patients will benefit.  For over 20 years I have been working with Crampton Consulting Group providing training to veterinary team members across Australia and New Zealand, specialising in the customer experience, client communication and teamwork.

I am very excited to be part of the Australian Veterinary Receptionists Association and look forward to continuing to support the amazing people in our profession.

When I am not working my life still revolves around animals – I love to ride and also spend time with my 2 crazy Border Terriers.

Mary Geddie

AVRA Council Secretary

Growing up I was always surrounded by animals. I was the one in the family with the dogs, cats, birds, ducks, mice, rats and even a goat so it’s not surprising I eventually found myself working in the veterinary industry even though it was after having many years of being a Primary School Teacher and a Private Instrumental Music Teacher.

Initially, I tiptoed into the Veterinary industry, whilst still maintaining my music teaching, in purely an administrative role. This led to answering phones, working at the reception desk and taking on more responsibilities. Over time I found myself in the clinic for most of my working hours! I was hooked and still am!

I am now the Office Coordinator at St Bernards Rd Veterinary Clinic in Magill South Australia which means I get to do various administration work but also spend time as a Veterinary Receptionist. I love being at the front desk as I get to have time with our fabulous patients, their families and building those relationships. I understand the importance and complexities of the Veterinary Receptionist’s role and am passionate about doing what I can to help and develop skills for receptionists in the industry.  It’s much, much more than picking up the phone and making appointments!

I recently joined the Australian Veterinary Receptionist Association founding Council as treasurer. I’m excited by the opportunity to be surrounded by an amazing ‘Brains Trust’ and to make a difference to receptionists in Australia and New Zealand.

Music still plays a special part in my life. I play flute in a Concert Band alongside my trumpeting husband and ‘fill-in’ as accompanist for Sing Australia Glenelg. I also love my regular babysitting day in which I get to spend time with my gorgeous little granddaughter.

My home is shared with my cat Koda, offsider Mia and my energetic dog Baylee.

Jaime Kiem

AVRA Senior Committee Advisor & BVRA Council President

I started working with animals when I was 17, where I volunteered at a Zoological Park for two years. I then took two years out and travelled Australia, before returning home to England in 2016. Once home I worked for a cats and dogs rescue centre, before moving on to my first job in the veterinary Industry as a veterinary receptionist.

This was a whole new world for me, I knew I wanted to work with animals but no one had warned me of the extent my role would actually take. I learnt very quickly that answering the phone and booking appointments was only a very small part of my role, which extended into kennel hand, care assistant, animal handling and practice tea maker! I became aware of the BVRA and crammed as many courses as I possibly could to improve my efficiency within my role, completing all levels of the BVRA training.

Because of it, I was promoted to the role of Head Receptionist in July 2020. In March 2021 I was invited to become a BVRA ambassador, which lead to me joining the BVRA team as Operations Manager in February 2022. Since then we evolved our ambassadors and created the first BVRA Council, of which I was voted in as the first BVRA President! Though this is a new role to both myself and the association, I am very excited to see where this leads and how I can help raise the status for veterinary receptionists within the industry across the country.

AVRA Team

Inkarri Trumbull-Ward

General Manager

I was always that kid who brought stray pets home, much to my parents dismay. Throughout my highschool and university years I volunteered at animal rescues, veterinary clinics and engaged in environmental conservation surveys. While doing this volunteer work I had a career in customer service and sales, in both hospitality and retail industries. I took this customer service experience and adoration for animals, mixed them together and found myself in a reception role in clinic while studying my Bachelor of Veterinary Technology at Charles Sturt University.

During this time I discovered a love for developing client relationships specific to our industry. I moved across to remote reception work and almost instantly found myself in a managerial and education role. I very quickly saw the impact I could have by working with veterinary clinics to develop their front of house teams skillset. This led me to where I am now – General Manager of the AVRA. Combining my love for animals, conservation, veterinary medicine, mental wellbeing and education into the development of an association deisgned to support our industry in all those areas and more!

My experience has led me to understand the complexities within this unique, vibrant community and an even deeper understanding of client and clinic needs alike.  I’m passionate and excited to help grow and direct this association, along side our amazing advisory council, to be a leader in supporting our admin, managerial, front of house and client care teams.

Board of Directors

Michael Mckeand

Director

After 15 years in the financial sector, I was looking for a change and was introduced to the veterinary industry as the General Manager of the Australian Veterinary Association’s business group. I quickly realised that my skills in business and customer service would be valuable to the industry. Through my time with AVA, I was able to gain a great understanding of the challenges that vet practices face in running their day-to-day operations.

After three years at the AVA I started my own consultancy aimed at helping vet practices in Australia and New Zealand to improve their customer experience. My team now collaborates with veterinary clinics across the region, helping practice managers and owners implement new client-focused strategies to attract and retain clients and help grow their businesses.

In 2022, I collaborated with the British Veterinary Receptionist Association to launch an association for vet receptionists in Australia, now called the AVRA. I am a beloved Broncos supporter, a country boy at heart, and the father of four beautiful girls, as well as one inner-city Cavoodle, called Baxter.