The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Sheep

Progress report

The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Sheep were agreed by State and Territory Governments in 2016 and are being regulated into law by most State and Territory governments. The implementation dates for the Sheep standards by State and Territory are;

Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory, the Cattle and Sheep welfare Standards will be adopted under the Livestock Regulations. Compliance and enforcement activity will be undertaken by Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries Veterinary Officers, Livestock Biosecurity Officers and Animal Welfare Inspectors. The NT will commence cattle implementation in 2018 but it is likely to continue into 2019. Sheep implementation may be done in parallel however cattle implementation has precedence as the NT does not have substantial sheep numbers.

South Australia

The South Australian regulations to mandate the standards incorporated in Sheep Standards and Guidelines will come into operation on 15th April 2017.

New South Wales

The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle and Sheep are prescribed guidelines under Section 34A of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979. This means that they are not mandatory, but can be used as evidence in proceedings under the Act or its Regulation. Commenced 15 December 2017.

Western Australia

The Cattle and Sheep Standards have not been regulated in Western Australia to date. A Bill to amend the Animal Welfare Act 2002 was submitted to the State Parliament at the end of 2017 and will be discussed in 2018. The purpose of this amendment is to give legal scope to regulate the national animal welfare standards and guidelines, including cattle, sheep, and transport of livestock.


Victoria intends to adopt the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle and Sheep into legislation subject to normal policy development processes. In adopting the standards into regulation, Victoria will avoid duplication or lowering of existing animal welfare requirements. It is anticipated that national standards and guidelines agreed to by Victoria will be adopted through the new proposed Animal Welfare Act.


Queensland supports the adoption of the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle and Sheep for the consistent application of animal welfare standards in these industries across jurisdictions. Queensland intends to implement the Cattle and Sheep standards as a compulsory code requirement under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001, subject to legislative processes and time-frames. The date of implementation is currently unknown.


Tasmania’s Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAC) has provided advice to Government on which parts of the cattle standards and guidelines document should be made into regulations in Tasmania. This advice is awaiting consideration by the new Government following State election on 3 March 2018. Once the new Cabinet is established the Regulations will be considered by the incoming Minister. It is anticipated that if approved, they will be legislated within the next 12 months or so.

Australian Capital Territory

The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines will be implemented in the ACT via codes of practice under the Animal Welfare Act 1992. The ACT agrees that having nationally consistent legislation and documented minimum standards enforced across Australia is a positive step. Where Commonwealth and Territory legislation exists, the welfare of the animals should be the priority and higher standards should apply. The development of these codes of practice will require consideration of the standards and guidelines by the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAC). Unfortunately ACT is unable to provide a timeline at this stage as they are awaiting advice from AWAC regarding the manner in which they believe the standards and guidelines should be implemented.


Page Updated: 13 March 2018