RSPCA wants farm cruelty reported

22 Aug, 2014 01:45 PM
RSPCA Australia CEO Heather Neil.
The fate of the animals involved seems to have been lost in the current debate
RSPCA Australia CEO Heather Neil.

THE RSPCA is calling for the introduction of mandatory reporting of animal cruelty, from workers who are expected to understand animal welfare legislation by virtue of their roles.

The RSPCA made the fresh plea for change at a media conference at Parliament House in Canberra today.

The proposed changes would make it a legal requirement for people in positions of responsibility to report animal cruelty incidents to relevant authorities.

The RSPCA says mandatory reporting would help to create a culture where people are aware of their responsibilities to protect animals, and animal abuse or neglect isn’t tolerated.

The proposed changes would also include whistleblower protections for those reporting cruelty to ensure they don’t suffer reprisals.

The calls have been prompted by recent debate over the introduction of so called “ag-gag” laws into Australia and PETA’s recent expose of Australian shearing sheds which highlighted animal cruelty incidents.

RSPCA Australia CEO Heather Neil said recent media reports had focussed on people – or animal activists - who’ve filmed without permission in agricultural facilities and published information online or via the media.

But Ms Neil said sadly the fate of the animals involved seems to have been lost in the current debate.

She said the fact that eye witnesses have also seen those events take place had also been lost which begs the question: why has it taken a camera to bring that animal abuse to light?

“The senseless brutality to sheep exposed last month should have shocked the nation, but instead the debate became focused on the messenger,” she said.

“The RSPCA believes that anyone witnessing animal cruelty has a moral obligation to report it to the relevant authorities.

“But there are some people who, by the nature of their role, are expected to know what animal cruelty is and when action should be taken.

“These people should have a legal obligation to report cruelty when they see it.”

Ms Neil said the changes would require increased government support to ensure all agencies in charge of implementing animal welfare regulation are adequately resourced to enable them to respond to the increased number of cruelty reports.

She said funding for training is also needed to ensure people know what cases they should and should not report, and public education is vital to make the community aware of the extent of their responsibility to report animal cruelty.

“All these measures are essential if we are to provide Australian animals with the protection they deserve,” she said.

Colin Bettles

Colin Bettles

is the national political writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


22/08/2014 2:57:10 PM

I am sick of this current obsession by fringe extremist groups to legislate people to notify of cruelty to animals as though it is widespread. So now RSPCA wants jail terms to force members of the public to come running with any half baked nonsensical beat up about animal cruelty. What about the cruelty to the farmers and stockowners who are trying to operate their business under the burdens of every half witted community demand. Most of which comes from those who have already destroyed all natural habitats for their own urban homes but expect farmers to pay the price.
Great strategy
22/08/2014 5:49:33 PM

Excellant strategy. The public who support animal farming every time they buy meat have every right to expect the animals are treated properly and according to the law. Of course there is no way we can know for sure that animals are treated properly because so much of it goes on behind closed doors..and so we can all imagine the suffering and abuse. Given farmers make a profit from animals, and welfare costs money, that animals have a right to be protected from systemic abuses, it must be mandatory that cruelty be reported. And it does go on...
22/08/2014 5:53:55 PM

Hey Suzanne, we dont care what you are sick of. You dont count. What is important is the prevention of cruelty to animals. And hopefully the campaign by RSPCA to have reporting mandatory is actually saying farming has to lift its act and become 'decent', because reporting abuse is what decent people would do. More power to you RSPCA. Those farms who are 'decent' have nothing to worry about do they.
23/08/2014 7:11:19 AM

Suzanne: This is a good idea, in the real world there are penalties for making false claims, and wasting police time. Force these people to put up, or shut up.
Jo Bloomfield
23/08/2014 4:02:40 PM

Concern for the fate of the animals has not been lost at all. What is not recognised is a definition of cruelty. RSPCA regard that all practices must be pain free and an animals life assured pain free. Intentional infliction of short term pain e.g castration is not cruel but necessary for the betterment of the whole herd. Education I agree is needed, but that includes educating those who know nothing about Animal welfare and 'think' what they see is cruel when it is not.
25/08/2014 7:40:04 AM

Several points - Is there a legal obligation to report crimes witnessed in the community generally? Why then in these cases? Another leader of RSPCA only several weeks ago stated in this publication that farm cruelty was a very small problem. If RSPCA is going to encourage law breaking by activists, it too should feel the full effects of any laws in place.
25/08/2014 8:19:59 AM

To all you AW loons - will you be demanding the same levels of animal treatment and animal welfare from ALL IMPORTED animal produce?
25/08/2014 8:25:06 AM

Kerry, it is that kind of attitude that sums up your lot's approach to humanity, and is exactly why such extremists as you get such a small share of the vote in our democratic electoral structure. Thank goodness for humanity.
25/08/2014 9:49:34 AM

Defamation laws need extending to allow businesses like the abbatoir owners in Gippsland to sue for wrongful accusations which destroyed their business along with the jobs of many workers.
25/08/2014 10:45:23 AM

@Kerry, given that Suzanne is on the land and these laws directly affect her I would say she does count. As for an uninformed city person trolling ag sites, well.....
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