The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Sheep

Progress report

The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Sheep have been agreed by State and Territory Governments 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 2017 but it is likely to continue into 2018. 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. It is anticipated that they will not be regulated until after a review of the Animal Welfare Act 2002 (WA) has been finalised.

In 2015 the Western Australian Minister for Agriculture and Food appointed an independent panel to review and report on the investment in and administration of the Animal Welfare Act in Western Australia. The final report made 19 recommendations, all of which were supported by the Western Australian Government. The recommendations include the development of an animal welfare strategic plan and policy framework for Western Australia, the strengthening of arrangements for inspector governance, and the implementation of a review of the Animal Welfare Act. In 2016, DAFWA recruited staff to the Animal Welfare Regulation Unit and commenced the implementation of the recommendations of the review.


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 the implementation will commence in 2018-19.


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) is currently preparing advice for the Minister on which parts of these documents should be made into Regulations in Tasmania. It is anticipated that 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: 20 Dec 2017