Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Legislation - Summary
The Minister for Agriculture is responsible for this legislation. It is administered by staff in the Biosecurity Division of the department. This legislation consists of the principle Act, principle regulations, Domestic Fowl Regulations and a large number of Codes of Practice.
In 1981 the Minister's Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAC) formed a sub committee to examine suggested amendments to the 'Protection of Animals Act 1966'. This work culminated in 1986 with the introduction of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986.
The Act (in summary) is in 5 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.
- Pat 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
Under Part 2 and Part 2A of the Act the following officers are authorised to have powers to investigate cruelty to animals - all Police officers and officers, authorised by the Minister for Agriculture, who are department Livestock Disease Control Act inspectors, RSPCA officers or Authorised Council Officers.
By agreement between the department and the RSPCA to coordinate activities, RSPCA is primarily responsible for welfare investigations for non-commercial animals while the department is primarily responsible for investigation of commercial animal issues. 'Commercial animals' are defined as more than 10 livestock animals of one species or more than 500 poultry and where the keeping of such livestock is a significant or primary business of the person or organisation, but does not include zoos, riding schools, horses used in standardbred or thoroughbred racing, pet shops, greyhound racing or rodeos. The two organisations often assist each other with investigations or refer cases as required.
The Bureau of Animal Welfare licences and monitors use of animals in scientific procedures. It reviews and develops a number of Codes of Practice for the welfare of animals that are made under the Act. It also develops training programs, policy initiatives and legislation amendments to the Act.
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 of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes 7th Edition 2004 (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 Experimentation Ethics Committee (AEEC). Establishments, investigators and AEEC's must conduct their activities according to the Australian Code of Practice referred to above. Each licensed establishment must have an AEEC to consider all proposals to use animals.
Regulations and Codes of Practice
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations were reviewed in 2007/2008 and new regulations were introduced in late 2008. The regulations consist of 5 parts:
- Part 1 outlines the objectives, scope and definitions
- Part 2 provides for regulations in relation to the protection of animals, many of which underpin offences in the principle Act
- Part 3 sets out the requirements for rodeos and rodeo schools including licences/permits, responsibilities of licencees or permit holders and offences
- Part 4 provides for regulations which underpin Part 3 of the principle Act in relation to use of animals in research
- Part 5 provides for fees, orders, infringements and transitional provisions.
There are also 6 schedules relating to the Act and Regulations
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Domestic Fowl) Regulations 2016 provide for the conditions under which domestic fowl can be housed (specifically layer hens).
Codes of practice set out recommended minimum standards and practices for the keeping of a wide range of species and animal related activities. The requirements of some codes are made mandatory through recognition in legislation (ie debarking of dogs) or becoming a requirement of a licence or permit (ie caged birds, rodeo codes).