Industry and governments are committed to continuously improve animal welfare techniques and refine standards.

Australian producers have always been aware of the importance of livestock welfare and their responsibilities for livestock welfare. They acknowledge the increasing awareness among consumers and the need to reinforce Australia’s commitment to improving animal welfare to support access to domestic and overseas markets.

Animal health and wellbeing is fundamental to the success and sustainability of every farm, and producers are held accountable for their animals’ welfare.

The standards

Standards are the legal requirements for livestock welfare and use the word ‘must’. The standards 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
  • 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 the law.

The process

The development process for the standards and guidelines is transparent and inclusive. Consideration of contemporary animal welfare science, costs to industry, practicalities, community standards and international expectations are utilised to support an evidence-based approach.

The process follows a project plan for the development of standards and guidelines which includes:

  • Public consultation
    The public consultation stage provides an opportunity for all members of the public to comment on the draft standards and guidelines before they are finalised. Seeking feedback and to determine the level of support for the draft. The public consultation process includes how the consultation was undertaken, who was consulted and a summary of their views, and those views that were considered.
  • Regulation Impact Statement
    A Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) is prepared to identify the costs and benefits that the standards and guidelines would have for a range of stakeholders.

A RIS is a mandatory document prepared by the department, agency, statutory authority, or board responsible for a regulatory proposal. The RIS includes recommendations for the most effective and efficient option and formalises and documents how authorities have assessed the costs, benefits, and the possible changes to an existing (or a new) regulation.

Authorities are required to conduct public consultation to seek feedback and determine the level of support for the RIS. When the RIS is assessed, it must include a consultation statement that shows how consultation was undertaken, who was consulted and a summary of their views, and those views that were considered.

  • Finalisation
    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: December 2020