Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Legislation
Summary of legislation
The Minister for Agriculture is responsible for this legislation. It is administered by staff in the Biosecurity Division of the department and consists of the principal Act, principal Regulations, Domestic Fowl Regulations and a large number of Codes of Practice.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTA) has five parts:
- Part 1 outlines its purpose, scope, application and code making powers.
- Part 2 broadly defines cruelty offences, penalties, rodeo requirements and appointment of inspectors.
- Part 2A sets out the enforcement powers and responsibilities of inspectors.
- Part 3 provides provisions concerning use of animals in scientific procedures.
- Part 3A provides provisions relating to the infringement notices.
- Part 4 provides for miscellaneous requirements and offences as well as setting out regulation making powers.
- Part 5 sets out transitional arrangements that are in place.
Part 1 of the Act sets out what an animal is, for the purposes of the Act. It also sets out when the Act applies to an animal or to a person's activities. There are a number of exemptions built into the POCTA Act for activities undertaken in accordance with other legislation, codes of practice made under this Act, and the Livestock Management Act Standards. However this does not permit cruelty to occur. Where people are not complying with the specific requirements of these other Acts, standards or codes they can still face prosecution for cruelty.
Under Part 2 and Part 2A of the Act, the following officers are authorised to have powers to investigate cruelty to animals: all Victoria Police officers, department officers authorised by the Minister for Agriculture who are Livestock Disease Control Act inspectors, RSPCA officers and Authorised Council Officers.
Part 3 of the Act ensures that animals used in research are treated as humanely as possible. The Victorian legislation incorporates the provisions of the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes 8th Edition 2013 (which is available from Commonwealth Bookshops or download from this site under Legislation and Codes of Practice) and legislates the codes of practice for laboratory animals and use of animals from municipal pounds in research. The Act requires that those who have responsibility for the welfare of experimental animals have a higher duty of care than for animals in other situations.
Features of this part of the legislation include the licensing of research groups wanting to use animals and that projects involving animals cannot proceed without the approval of an Animal Ethics Committee (AEC). Establishments, investigators and AECs must conduct their activities according to the Australian Code of Practice referred to above. Each licensed establishment must have an AEC to consider all proposals to use animals.
Department licenses and monitors use of animals in scientific procedures.
Act and Regulations
- Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986
- Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008 (Principal Regulations)
- Prevention of Cruelty to Animals legislation summary
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008 (POCTA Regulations), which were due to sunset on 16 December 2018, have been extended unchanged until 16 December 2019.
- Subordinate Legislation (Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008) Extension Regulations 2018
Animal Welfare Victoria is looking at ways to reform and modernise Victoria’s animal welfare legislation. Consultations on the proposals for a new Act are intended to occur later in 2018. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008 have been extended in consideration of this work.
Over the next year, Animal Welfare Victoria will review the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations and take into account the feedback and stakeholder views. New regulations will be made at the end of 2019.
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment (Electronic Collars) Regulations 2018
On 2 October 2018, minor amendments were made to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008 allowing research into new technologies using electronic collars for livestock containment and herding.
The amendments made to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008:
- Enable, in Victoria, the sale and use of electronic collars for livestock for research purposes only.
- Remove limitations on sale of the electronic collars for livestock to purchasers outside of Victoria.
- Clarify the period for which records need to be maintained by sellers, hirers or suppliers of electronic collars for dogs, cats or livestock.
- Make consequential changes to the infringement offences relating to the use of electronic collars.
The use of electronic collars for livestock in Victoria will be allowed solely as part of a scientific procedure, or program of scientific procedures, approved under a licence granted under Part 3 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986. There are no other changes to the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008.
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Domestic Fowl) Regulations 2016
Version incorporating amendments as at 4 October 2016: