Under the previous Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS), Animal Health Australia (AHA) was commissioned to facilitate the development of nationally consistent standards and guidelines for livestock. The welfare standards and guidelines are based on the revision of the current Model Codes of Practice for the Welfare of Animals (MCOP).

Government and industry have agreed that national standards and guidelines are needed and are working cooperatively to develop the standards and guidelines under the previous AAWS.

Australian producers have always been aware of their responsibilities for livestock welfare. However, increasing awareness among consumers is placing significant pressure on our livestock industries to improve animal welfare. The development of welfare standards and guidelines underpins access to overseas markets and reinforces Australia’s international leadership in livestock welfare.

The standards

Standards will be the legal requirements for livestock welfare and use the word ‘must’. The standards will provide the basis for developing and implementing consistent legislation and enforcement across Australia.

The main decision-making principles used for developing the standards are to ensure the standards are:

  • desirable for livestock welfare
  • feasible for industry and government to implement
  • important for the livestock-welfare regulatory framework, and
  • achieve the intended outcome for livestock welfare.

The guidelines

The guidelines are the recommended practices to achieve desirable livestock welfare outcomes. Guidelines use the word ‘should’ and are designed to complement the standards. Non-compliance with one or more guidelines will not constitute an offence under law.

The process

The development process for the standards and guidelines is transparent and inclusive. Relevant scientific literature, current practice and community expectations are utilised to support an evidence-based approach.

The process follows a project plan for the development of standards and guidelines.

The process includes a public consultation stage which provides an opportunity for all members of the public to comment on the draft standards and guidelines before they are finalised. The standards and guidelines then progress for noting/endorsement by governments and then into the regulation stage before the final implementation stage by the states and territories. Animal Health Australia has a limited role in the last two stages.

Page reviewed: 20 Nov 2017