The Australian Government is working with states and territories to develop and put in place nationally consistent standards and guidelines for farm animal welfare.
The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry will replace the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals Domestic Poultry.
The standards will be put into effect in state and territory legislation. The guidelines will be voluntary. They will set out the best practice for caring for and managing poultry.
In March 2021, a draft of the revised standards and guidelines was sent to members of the Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG). The four-week consultation period proved extremely beneficial as the panel received almost 900 separate specific comments on the proposed standards and guidelines. Comments ranged from minor drafting improvements to more substantive information including further scientific sources on animal welfare impacts, and information on industry practices and implementation implications. The panel acknowledges and appreciates the time and effort SAG members invested in providing these detailed comments.
Since the conclusion of the consultation period, the panel have finalised the standards and guidelines and are scheduled to present a final version to the Agriculture Senior Officials Committee in mid-August. It is intended that senior officials will consider the standards alongside a regulation impact statement and determine next steps, including referral to agriculture ministers.
Chair, Ms Renata Brooks
Renata has had 20 years of experience on governing boards and 13 as a senior executive in state public sector agencies.
Renata is currently deputy chair of the board of Suncare Community Services and a member of the board of the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust. She contributes to independent planning decisions as a member of the Regional Planning Panel for Southern NSW and undertakes assignments through her own consulting business.
Following an early career as a veterinary practitioner she joined the NSW Government’s animal welfare branch where she worked for 11 years including as Manager.
In her executive career in NSW Government agencies, she led various divisions comprising policy, regulatory, technical and service functions in sustainable development of primary industries, land and natural resource management, biosecurity and scientific research, development and extension.
Renata is a Graduate and Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and received a degree in Veterinary Science with first class honours from the University of Sydney and a Graduate Certificate in Bioethics from the University of Technology, Sydney.
Professor Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher is a production animal veterinarian with research and policy development expertise in animal welfare stretching over 25 years. He is Director of the Animal Welfare Science Centre, headquartered at the University of Melbourne.
Andrew previously worked for the CSIRO where he headed the animal welfare research group. He has been involved in animal welfare standards development in Australia and internationally through the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
Andrew has a Bachelor of Veterinary Science (Hons) and a PhD and is a Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists in Animal Welfare.
Mr Mark Townend AM
Mark is the Chief Executive Officer of Spinal life Australia. Prior to this he had been the Chief Executive Officer of RSPCA Queensland for 19 years.
He holds various positions including being a member of the Queensland Government’s Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, Board member of Regional Development Australia, and Chairperson of the Queensland Koala Advisory Council. Between 1988 and 1995, Mark was a councillor on Logan City Council.
Mark is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Fellow of the CEO Institute. He received the Prime Minister’s Centenary Medal for distinguished service to the community. In 2014 Mark was made a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the community, particularly through animal welfare services.
Terms of Reference
The Terms of Reference for the independent panel set out that the standards will:
- improve animal welfare outcomes within Australia’s poultry industries
- reflect contemporary animal welfare science
- consider current industry practices, cost and benefits, new technologies and practicalities of implementation
- align with the values and expectations shared by the Australian community
- meet the expectations of trading partners
- consider possible domestic and international trade impacts
- provide the basis for nationally consistent and effectively enforced regulation.
The Agriculture Ministers’ Forum agreed to the panel’s terms of reference in October 2019.
Read the full Terms of Reference
The panel will finalise the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry. The panel will ensure the Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry meet the following objectives:
- Provide the basis for nationally consistent and effectively enforced regulation
- Improve animal welfare outcomes within Australia’s poultry industries
- Reflect contemporary animal welfare science, taking into account current industry practices, cost-benefits, new technologies and practicalities of implementation
- Align with the values and expectations widely shared by the Australian community
- Meet the expectations of trading partners, taking into account possible domestic and international trade impacts.
The panel will report to and receive direction from the interjurisdictional Agriculture Senior Officials Committee (AGSOC), through an Australian Government Department of Agriculture secretariat. The panel will plan a process to complete a final draft of the Poultry Welfare Standards and Guidelines by the middle of 2020, and discuss progress with AGSOC mid-way through the process.
The panel will consist of two or three impartial people, one of whom will chair the panel. Panel members will be recommended by AGSOC and chosen by AGMIN based on their expertise and experience in government policy processes, poultry research, or regulation related to the agriculture sector.
Panel members will be paid at a per diem rate negotiated with the Australian Government Department of Agriculture. Travel entitlements and allowances will be at the level provided for Senior Executive Service officers of the Australian Government Department of Agriculture.
Scope of work
The panel will:
- Review existing documentation on the draft Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry
- Plan a process to complete the Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry within a timeframe set by AGSOC
- Consult with stakeholders (including Animal Health Australia as appropriate) in all jurisdictions that have poultry industries, including on
- Problems with the draft produced during the previous process
- Areas of consensus
- Oversee the drafting, by a Drafting Group, of Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry, based on the above objectives
- Seek feedback from stakeholders on the draft
- Provide a final draft to AGSOC.
The panel will be supported by a secretariat from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture.
The secretariat will:
- Obtain existing documentation relating to the Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry to provide to the panel
- Facilitate meetings and discussions with the panel, the Drafting Group and updates to jurisdictions as appropriate
- Provide logistical support for the panel’s stakeholder consultation process
- Record the panel’s meeting outcomes.
Jurisdictions will nominate staff to be members of the drafting group. The Drafting Group will draft the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry under direction of the panel.
Decision Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS)
A decision RIS will need to be completed after preparation of the Standards and Guidelines and costs will be shared by jurisdictions.
The Australian Government Department of Agriculture will engage a specialist consultant to develop a decision RIS under AGSOC supervision.