This section explains the different laws and regulations that affect veterinarians and animals in Australia. 

Animal welfare

In Australia, state and territory governments are responsible for animal welfare and well being within their jurisdiction. These governments set and enforce laws to protect animal welfare and prevent cruelty to animals.

More information about animal welfare legislation in your state or territory can be found on the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website.

State governments establish codes of practice to protect animal welfare in places such as pet shops, breeding establishments, pounds and shelters. They also enforce animal welfare rules, usually through animal welfare organisations like the RSPCA or the Animal Welfare League.

The Australian Government is responsible for trade and international agreements relating to animal welfare.

Veterinary registration

To practice as a veterinarian in Australia, you need a veterinary degree that meets the criteria of your state registration board. Each state and territory has a registration board, and veterinarians need to be registered in each state they work in.

Registration boards are governed by state legislation. They can investigate complaints against veterinarians, and impose disciplinary measures according to the terms of the legislation.

Australia is in the process of setting up national recognition of veterinary registration which will mean that a vet's home state registration will be recognised by all other Australian jurisdictions.

Pets in the community

State and local governments are responsible for laws relating to pets in Australia. Who is responsible for what varies from state to state. However, generally local government is responsible for managing problem animals within their jurisdiction, setting registration and identification rules for pets, and whether animals are welcome in public areas.

Some state governments have set mandatory rules for all pets in their jurisdiction covering microchipping, desexing, dangerous dog provisions or prohibited breeds.

Agriculture and trade

The Australian Government is responsible for regulation of Australia's agricultural industries and trade. It manages the nation's biosecurity and quarantine systems, and takes a leading role in outbreaks of emergency animal diseases. The federal government is also responsible for the regulation of veterinary medicines and various agricultural industries (including levies).

State governments have responsibility for managing diseases in livestock, and regulating the use of poisons and therapeutic goods.

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