Driving change to improve animal welfare in Victoria

The Victorian Government recently announced that it will establish a dedicated public sector group called Animal Welfare Victoria in an effort to deliver more support for animal welfare.

Expected to be up and running by February 2018, Animal Welfare Victoria will be overseen by the Minister for Agriculture and Regional Development, Jaala Pulford, and will see animal welfare officers continue to operate through the RSPCA, Agriculture Victoria and local government.

The Victorian Government has advised that the new group will deliver $500,000 in animal welfare grants to non-profit community organisations within its first year of operation and will publish an annual animal welfare report outlining the achievements, challenges and actions regarding better animal welfare outcomes in Victoria.

The AVA Victorian Division has been consulted regularly via briefings and workshops and has provided valuable input into the Victorian Government’s draft Animal Welfare Action Plan, which outlines three key areas, including a review of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, which dates back to 1986. The aim is to replace the current Act with a modern animal welfare act in 2019 that will recognise the sentience of animals and ensure that animal welfare management and legislation in Victoria develops to meet community expectations.

With a view to eliminating ‘bad’ breeders and to cease the breeding of heritable diseases, the AVA Victorian Division has also been advocating for a breeder register. The AVA, together with representatives from RSPCA in Victoria, met with the Minister’s Office, the Shadow Minister and various cross-bench members of the Upper House of State Parliament to put forward the need for a breeder register, similar to the model adopted in Queensland this year.

The AVA also provided a submission on the draft Code of Practice for the Keeping of Racing Greyhounds and noted where further welfare improvements could be made. The AVA Victorian Division has attended various workshops and meetings with the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources throughout this process and is currently being consulted on final amendments. The Code is expected to be finalised by the end of 2017.

As part of the Victorian Government’s reforms to make renting fair for pet owners, the Government is giving every tenant the right to own a pet so that people don’t need to choose between their pet and a place to live. The AVA Victorian Division provided a submission on the Government’s Residential Tenancies Act 1997 review highlighting the benefits of pet ownership, the barrier to ownership in Australia and included recommendations regarding the review.

Melanie Berenger
Communication Officer

This article appeared in the December 2017 issue of the Australian Veterinary Journal

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