Review of the Animal Welfare Act 2002

Page last updated: Monday, 29 June 2020 - 12:08pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

In May 2019, Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan announced the independent panel that would oversee a public review of the operation and effectiveness of the Animal Welfare Act 2002 (the Act). As part of that review, the panel is undertaking a consultation to assist it in identifying key issues in animal welfare in Western Australia.

Consultation

The panel called for written submissions from stakeholders and the public to help it conduct its review of the operation and effectiveness of the Act. This consultation closed on 16 December 2019.

In the second stage of the consultation process, the panel held public forums in Broome, Karratha, Katanning and Perth.

About the panel

The independent panel will be chaired by Western Australian barrister and regulatory law specialist Linda Black, who has a professional background in animal welfare. The other members of the panel include Di Evans, Dominique Blache, David Marshall and Catherine Marriott who have a range of senior veterinary, animal welfare and industry experience.

The aim of the review is to assess the operation and effectiveness of the Act, including whether it reflects contemporary best practice and what legislative amendments might be required. The panel will provide a report to Government by June 2020, with detail on its findings and any recommendations for legislative amendments or the introduction of new policies or standards.

More specifically, the panel is enquiring into whether the Act provides adequate protection to the welfare of animals covered by the Act. The panel will consider whether there is a need to broaden the Act beyond acts of actual cruelty to include the promotion of minimum standards for humane treatment, including conditions that allow animals to express their instinctive behaviours.

The review will take advice and input from the community, industry, welfare advocates, scientists, veterinarians and relevant experts in determining how best to ensure that modern best practice can be achieved in animal welfare.

The panel is also looking at what barriers and difficulties there are with enforcing the Act and its associated Regulations. Issues such as examining what animal welfare inspectors are able to do or not able to do and how best to tackle the obstacles which may restrict the ability to take those charged with animal cruelty offences to court. This includes looking at how well the current law is working and how to make it work better.

The panel’s review of the effectiveness of the Act is separate to the work being carried out by the department to implement the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for livestock (Standards and Guidelines). Amendments to the Act in 2018 have made the implementation of the Standards and Guidelines in Western Australia possible.

Terms of Reference

  1. Determine whether the objects of the Act reflect and promote contemporary best practice in animal welfare such as recognition of the ability of animals to express innate behaviours, and if necessary recommend appropriate legislative amendments.
  2. Identify any impediments to the effective enforcement of the Act and any related regulations, with specific attention to the powers of inspectors and the prosecution of offenders.
  3. Consider amendments to policies, standards and legislation to achieve contemporary best practice in animal welfare regulation, including a compliance regime based on standards prescribed by regulation, and if necessary recommend appropriate legislative amendments.
  4. Make recommendations on how compliance with the Act can be promoted, including consideration of the prosecutorial framework, and if necessary recommend appropriate legislative amendments.
  5. Advise the Minister on any other matters relevant to the operation and effectiveness of the Act.

Review of the Animal Welfare Act 2002

Further information on reporting animal cruelty is available.