Central Victorian animal welfare advocates cautiously welcome plans to overhaul Victoria's animal welfare laws

The state government has committed to an overhaul of the state’s ‘outdated’ animal welfare legislation, with the launch of Victoria’s first action plan.

Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford, said the review would bring the 30-year-old laws into line with community and industry expectations.

“The Animal Welfare Action Plan sets a new benchmark for animal welfare that reflects community expectations around how animals are treated,” she said.

The consultation process will start later this year.

The Animal Welfare Action Plan, launched today, had four priorities at its core.

‘Efficient and effective’ compliance and enforcement, and a policy and legal framework that ‘safeguards and improves animal welfare’, were among them.

As were collaboration, education and communication to achieve the plan’s aims. 

The strategy was relevant to all animals.

The news was met with cautious optimism by central Victorian animal welfare advocates.

Five Freedoms Animal Rescue tended to Arthur the kangaroo after he was found in a car park at Bendigo Marketplace last month. Picture: NONI HYETT

Five Freedoms Animal Rescue tended to Arthur the kangaroo after he was found in a car park at Bendigo Marketplace last month. Picture: NONI HYETT

Helen Round and Manfred Zabinskas, from Five Freedoms Animal Rescue, welcomed efforts to reform animal welfare in the state.

“On the surface it looks really good,” Mr Zabinskas said.

But Ms Round, who attended a consultation session in relation to the plan, said she was hesitant to get excited.

“While I welcome any initiative that seeks to improve animal welfare, the reality is that the Victorian Labor Party continues to support and fund recreational duck shooting, jumps racing, greyhound racing and the exploitation of kangaroos with the extended pet meat trials,” she said.

“So, I cannot help but feel cynical.”

Mr Zabinskas said animal welfare advocates had been working with and campaigning the government to act on the prevention of animal cruelty for some time.

Efforts to address issues such as authority to control wildlife are ongoing.

Animal Welfare Action Plan embedded below.

Wildlfie Rescue Information Network vice-president Vicki Fox said the Animal Welfare Action Plan might bring about some much-needed improvements to animal welfare.

“But to be truly impressive big changes need to happen,” she said.

“To improve animal welfare, industries that constantly deny animals a good state of welfare such as intense animal farming using stalls and cages, greyhound racing, kangaroo culls, duck hunting and even deforestation need to be banned. 

“These practices demonstrate the complete opposite of good animal welfare which the Animal Welfare Action Plan states is ‘achieved through humane, reasonable and respectful treatment of animals.’”

Most Victorians – 98 per cent – believe protecting the welfare of animals to be important, according to the government.

Animal Welfare Ambassador Lizzie Blandthorn said consultation on the draft action plan, released in 2016, showed strong support for its initiatives.

The strategy was informed by more than 20 meetings and workshops, and in excess of 600 online and written submissions. 

Victoria’s Animal Welfare Advisory Committee supported the plan’s development.

“I look forward to working with industry and the community to implement the Animal Welfare Action Plan,” Ms Blandthorn said.