Animal Welfare Act amendments

Page last updated: Tuesday, 22 January 2019 - 8:53am

What are national Standards and Guidelines? 

Standards are the legal requirements for livestock welfare and use the word ‘must’. The Standards provide the basis for developing and implementing consistent legislation and enforcement across Australia. The Standards are, in large part, based on recommendations in the National Model Codes of Practice.

Guidelines are the recommended practices to achieve good livestock welfare outcomes. Guidelines use the word ‘should’ and are designed to complement the standards.

Non-compliance with Standards will be a breach of the regulations and penalties may be applied, while a breach of the Guidelines will not constitute an offence under law.

The development of Standards and Guidelines includes a process of national consultation with stakeholders, which provides an opportunity for all members of the public and industry to comment on the draft Standards and Guidelines before they are finalised.

The current endorsed Standards and Guidelines are:

Land Transport (2012)

Sheep (2016)

Cattle (2016)

Animals in Saleyards and Depots (2018)

All states and territories except WA have implemented the Land Transport Standards. The Sheep and Cattle Standards have been implemented in South Australia and New South Wales, and all jurisdictions are considering the implementation of the Standards and Guidelines on Saleyards and Depots. Find out more about the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines online.

Cows standing in paddock

What happens now?

There will not be any immediate changes to the way the department enforces the Act or to what constitutes an offence under the Act.

Following amendment of the Act, the department will begin drafting regulations. Consistent with requirements for the development of regulatory programs, the department will consult with stakeholders.

Consultation is expected to start early in 2019. This process will include direct engagement with key stakeholders, and broader consultation with industry. If you would like to get involved in the consultation process and have your say, send an email to so you can be kept updated.

Contact information

Rick Bryant
+61 (0)8 9368 3346

Further information on reporting animal cruelty is available.


Rick Bryant