26 September 2023

Animals win audit support for welfare

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An audit of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ relationship with RSPCA Queensland to deliver animal welfare services under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 has found that improvements need to be made.

In his Report, Regulating animal welfare services Report 6: 2021–22, Auditor-General, Brendan Worrall said the Department had not been proactive and was not as effective as it needed to be in overseeing and supporting RSPCA Queensland in exercising its powers to enforce the Act.

“These powers include obtaining search warrants and seizing property where there is suspected contravention of the Act,” Mr Worrall said.

“The Department’s engagement framework with RSPCA Queensland lacks key accountability and oversight elements,” he said.

Mr Worrall said the Department had not been using many of the mechanisms currently provided within the framework and this had led to RSPCA Queensland having greater autonomy in enforcing the Act, without appropriate oversight and support.

“While RSPCA Queensland may have processes and controls in place, the Department has no visibility of those processes and therefore cannot assure itself of their suitability or effectiveness,” he said.

“We have made four recommendations for the Department to improve its engagement framework and oversight of RSPCA Queensland’s inspection and enforcement activities.”

The Auditor-General said these involved strengthening the legislative framework; clarifying and strengthening the Department’s role; managing performance; and good practices for all regulators.

He noted that, since April, the Department had been addressing the Audit’s findings.

“We recommend that all Public Sector regulators and oversight bodies self-assess against better practices in Appendix C of the Report and, where necessary, implement changes to enhance their regulatory performance,” Mr Worrall said.

The Auditor-General’s 33-page Report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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