26 September 2023

New Animal Welfare Act a pet job

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A Directions Paper has been released, setting out key proposals and options for a new Animal Welfare Act.

Minister for Agriculture, Jaclyn Symes encouraged Victorians to have a say on the options for the new laws, which are intended to maintain a high standard of animal welfare and support Victorian farmers with access to export markets.

Ms Symes said the new Act would replace the current Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 which is more than 30 years old.

“Among the proposals put forward for comment are setting minimum standards of care people must provide for animals,” Ms Symes said.

“This would mean people caring for animals must meet basic needs of the animal – such as providing adequate food and water, and veterinary treatment for an injury or illness – rather than simply outlawing cruelty,” she said.

“Other options being considered are how best to deliver on the Government’s commitment to recognise animal sentience – meaning they feel pleasure, comfort, discomfort, fear and pain – in the legislation and how to ensure regulators are better able to drive behavioural change, monitor compliance, and undertake enforcement.”

Ms Symes said this would further protect the welfare of animals as penalties would be better aligned with the seriousness of offences and authorised officers would be able to better ensure animal carers were doing the right thing.

She said recognising animal sentience would also bring Victoria in line with other Australian and international jurisdictions.

“The Directions Paper was developed following extensive consultation with key industry and community stakeholders about our existing laws and opportunities for improvement,” she said.

Ms Symes said people could provide feedback on the proposed laws by completing a survey or uploading a submission before 14 December.

The 55-page Directions Paper can be accessed at this PS News link.

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