Terms of reference

National Horse Traceability Working Group, Terms of Reference – September 2020

1. Overview

The National Horse Traceability Working Group (NHTWG) is a non-statutory committee constituted by the Agriculture Ministers’ Forum (AGMIN) and the Australasian Racing Ministers’ Conference (ARMC) to provide advice on matters relating to the design and introduction of a traceability system for horses, donkeys and mules in Australia.

NHTWG will meet regularly as required with the aim of providing recommendations for the implementation of a national horse traceability system and associated register via AGSOC to AGMIN in early 2022.

2. Definitions

The following terms apply throughout this document -




The Agriculture Ministers' Forum comprising Australian/state/territory and New Zealand government ministers with responsibility for primary industries


Committee of jurisdictional representatives supporting AGMIN, responsible for cooperative and coordinated approaches to matters of national interest.

Alternate member

A person who is nominated by a represented organisation to attend a NHTWG meeting or subcommittee meeting on behalf of a member who is unable to attend


Conference of Australasian Racing Ministers

Attendee (non-member)

A person not a member of the NHTWG, invited to participate in NHTWG deliberations by the Chairperson


The person appointed by AGSOC to chair meetings of the Committee, and to report and act as spokesperson on behalf of the Committee

Commercial horse/s

Horses bred or used for or in association with racing, or in organised equestrian activities

Conflict of interest

A conflict between a member’s duty to act in the best interests of the NHTWG and their private interests


The NHTWG member responsible for arranging meetings, providing secretarial and operational support and preparing meeting minutes and reports.


For the purposes of the work of the NHTWG, horses include donkeys, mules and hinnies.

Horse industry

Collectively the recreational, equestrian, racing and working horse sectors


(the Committee)

The National Horse Traceability Working Group

Property Identification Code (PIC)

The eight-character alphanumeric code for a property as allocated by the relevant state or territory authority.


A parcel of land that is required under state/territory law to have a PIC, and on which livestock are or may be kept. It includes farms, private residences where livestock are kept, sale venues, holding properties, racing stables, studs, veterinary clinics, racetracks, equestrian and show venues, knackeries and abattoirs

Represented organisation

An organisation approved by AGMIN and ARMC to nominate a person to be a member of the NHTWG (see Appendix 13.1)

Responsible person

The person responsible for the day-to-day care of a horse.  Includes trainers, stud masters and veterinary clinic managers.


A group of NHTWG members established to undertake project work or progress action items under the direction of the Committee.  May include seconded non-members.

Working horse/s

Horses used principally in agriculture, including horses used to handle livestock on-farm, and in saleyards and feedlots

3. Role of the NHTWG

3.3.1 The role of the NHTWG is to make recommendations to AGMIN and ARMC through AGSOC, consistent with these Terms of Reference, options for a national horse traceability system for Australia.

3.3.2 The Terms of Reference of the NHTWG are to:

a) Consider and make recommendations on the design, introduction, operation, legal framework and enforcement of a traceability system, addressing biosecurity, welfare and broader horse industry and stakeholder needs.

b) Review existing national livestock and companion animal traceability and register schemes as a guide to how to approach the design and operation of a system for the horse industry.

c) Review existing horse tracing efforts and data collection arrangements in Australia.

d) In consultation with stakeholders, consider the funding, policy, legal, communications and enforcement challenges for the jurisdictions.

e) In consultation with stakeholders, advise on

  1. Preferred horse identification, registration and database management arrangements including funding, legal and data access considerations
  2. Business rules relating to data collection and reporting applicable to each industry sector
  3. The register’s role in the management of emergency animal diseases, natural disaster preparedness, rider safety, and horse theft.

f) In consultation with stakeholders, develop an indicative timetable for the introduction of a system.

g) The NHTWG will not have a defined focus on welfare outcomes, welfare activities related to horses or be deliberating on the end of life options for horses.

3.2 Issues for the working group to consider

3.2.1 The NHTWG will use as background, and be guided by, the November 2019, Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee’s report – ‘The feasibility of a National Horse Traceability Register for all horses’ (the Report).

3.2.2 The NHTWG will take into account the diverse range of reasons why horses are kept in Australia and strive to achieve a common outcomes-based vision of traceability that will address biosecurity, welfare and broader horse industry and stakeholder needs.

3.2.3 In this context, the proposed national horse register will be developed for ‘whole of life’ identification commencing on the properties of birth through to the death or ‘retirement’ from the register. The NHRWG will provide advice on matters that would need to be addressed in order to achieve a comprehensive traceability system covering all sectors of the horse industry.

3.2.4 The working group will need to consider how the register will be supported and maintained and what information it should contain, including:

  • How existing horse identification/database information will be incorporated.
  • Which horse sectors are to be include in a phased approach.
  • How the register will be maintained and developed over time, including arrangements for ‘retiring’ animals that have died or been exported from the register.
  • How the register will be funded along with ownership and governance arrangements.
  • Whether or not information on the properties where a horse is kept, the name of the responsible person and a horse’s ownership should be collected.
  • What legal framework, communications and enforcement mechanisms will be required to achieve adequate compliance.

3.2.5 The Committee will consider how existing livestock identification and traceability systems can be leveraged. The design and operation of a national horse register, however, is likely to be more difficult than registers for other commercial livestock species because in those cases animal identification, inclusion on a register and movement recording from PIC to PIC through to death, processing or live export are effectively conditions of sale helping to ensure participant compliance.  Unlike other livestock species, horses are often traded through private sales or online auctions, and are moved regularly between PICs for exercise, breeding, veterinary care, exhibiting and for competition.

3.2.6 A national horse register will need to be based on a consistent set of state and territory laws, supported by a formal governance mechanism to oversee the national operation of the system, and agreed arrangements between stakeholders in relation to compliance, information sharing, compliance reporting and funding.

4. Membership

4.1 Composition

4.1.1 The membership of the NHTWG will consist of the following positions:

a) Chairperson

b) Members nominated by represented organisations (see Appendix 13.1 for a list of represented organisations)

4.1.2 Represented organisations can choose to not nominate a person to join the Committee as a member.

Term of appointment

4.1.2 The term of office of the Chairperson and members will be up to three years from the date of the first meeting, or as determined by AGSOC.

4.2 Vacancies

4.2.1 A member of the NHTWG may resign in writing addressed to the Chairperson and copied to the Convenor.

4.2.2 AGSOC or that person’s nominating organisation may remove a member from office if:

a) the member becomes incapable of performing his or her duties

b) the member is negligent in the performance of duties

c) the member engages in improper conduct

d) the member breaches confidentiality

e) the member is absent from three consecutive meetings of the NHTWG without leave granted by the Chairperson or, in the case of the Chairperson, by AGSOC

f) the member or Chairperson fails to disclose a pecuniary interest as required, or

g) for any other reason determined by AGSOC.

4.2.3 The member appointed by a represented organisation to fill a vacancy will be appointed for the balance of the term of office of the member being replaced.

4.2.4 AGSOC may at any time disband the NHTWG.

4.3 Absences

In the case of absence of the Chairperson at any meeting of the NHTWG, the members present will at the commencement of the meeting elect a member to preside at that meeting as Chairperson.

Subject to the approval of the Chairperson, a represented organisation may nominate another person (an alternate member) to attend a meeting in the absence of their nominated member.  The alternate member shall be able to act as if they are a member during discussions and have voting rights.

4.3 Attendees (non-members)

4.4.1 Upon the invitation of the Chairperson, an attendee may attend a meeting.

4.4.2 An attendee may participate in discussions at the invitation of the Chairperson.

4.4.3 An attendee does not have voting rights.

4.4. 4 Attendees are bound by the confidentiality and codes of conduct that apply to members of the NHTWG.

5. Remuneration and expenses

5.5.1 Remuneration of members and alternate members including meeting related expenses shall be the responsibility of their represented organisation.

5.5.2 The remuneration of the Chairperson shall be the responsibility of the represented organisation responsible for nominating the Convenor.

5.5.3 Attendees (non–members) and members of subcommittees will not be entitled to receive remuneration or expenses.

6. Roles and responsibilities of Chairperson

6.1.1 The Chairperson will facilitate an orderly and constructive discussion between members to ensure delivery of the responsibilities of the NHTWG set out in these Terms of Reference.

6.1.2 The Chairperson is responsible for engaging with the Convenor on the development of meeting agendas and the progress of actions arising from meetings.

6.1.3 Subject to confidentiality requirements, the Chairperson is the spokesperson for the NHTWG and may represent the NHTWG where deemed appropriate.

6.1.4 The Chairperson is responsible for monitoring the performance of the NHTWG, including drawing a member’s attention to non-adherence to standards of respectful behaviour or to the Committee’s responsibilities as outlined in the Terms of Reference.

6.1.5 The Chairperson is responsible for allocating actions and expected completion dates in a project brief to a responsible NHTWG member or subcommittee.

6.1.6 The Chairperson is responsible for meeting or facilitating all reporting requirements outlined in clause 12.9 (Reporting) in relation to the Terms of Reference.

6.1.7 Under the direction of the Committee or Convenor, the Chairperson may from time-to-time also write to or seek information from stakeholders, or attend meetings with stakeholder organisations.

7. Roles and responsibilities of members

7.1.1 The primary role of members is to enable the NHTWG to provide advice to AGMIN and ARMC via AGSOC based on their collective experience and knowledge.

7.1.2 Members are responsible for investing sufficient time prior to meetings to be able to understand matters under consideration by the NHTWG and to participate in decisions relating to those matters.

7.1.3 Members must participate in, and equitably share, the workload of the NHTWG.

7.1.4 Members must adhere to the confidentiality provisions.

7.1.5 It is the responsibility of members to:

a) share information and knowledge with other members

b) commit to the consensus decision of the NHTWG, regardless of whether or not the final decision is to their liking

c) adhere to respectful conduct in relation to the governance and operation of the NHTWG

d) act in the best interests of the NHTWG.

7.1.6 If a member cannot perform the role they have voluntarily assumed by participating as a member of a collective team of expert advisers, they must consider withdrawing from the NHTWG.

8. Confidentiality

8.8.1 Members are to keep all deliberations of the NHTWG confidential and must not release information that might serve to prejudice the activities of the NHTWG.

8.8.2 The Chairperson will be the only person able to make public statements about the deliberations of the NHTWG.

8.8.3 Correspondence between stakeholders and the NHTWG, as well as papers supplying information regarding matters before the NHTWG, shall be deemed confidential and are not for distribution unless otherwise approved by the Chairperson.

8.8.4 Members who resign, retire or otherwise depart from the NHTWG shall not, without the prior express approval of the Chairperson, expose or release any document identified as confidential, that has come into their possession as a result of being a member of the NHTWG.

8.8.5 It is a condition of attendance that all members and attendees read and sign the Deed of Confidentiality (Appendix 13.2) prior to attendance at a meeting of the NHTWG.

8.8.6 To assist in its deliberations, the NHTWG may from time to time seek feedback on matters pertaining to its Terms of Reference from represented organisations. Where NHTWG seeks such feedback, members are permitted to participate in discussions within their nominating organisations, including by providing background information on the context of the request and by contributing to the drafting of the represented organisation’s feedback. The participation of members in such discussions will not constitute a breach of confidentiality.

9. Freedom of information

9.1.1 Members should be aware that all documents relating to the NHTWG (for example meeting papers, minutes and correspondence) will be placed on file by the Convenor and will be subject to Victoria’s Freedom of Information Act 1982.

9.1.2 Members should also be aware that electronic documents could also be the subject of a request for production under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

10. Conflicts of interest

10.1.1 Conflicts of interest include real, potential or perceived conflicts, with direct (held by the member) or indirect (held by a relative or close associate of the member) private interests, or duty to another organisation, which may be either pecuniary or non-pecuniary.

10.1.2 At the start of each NHTWG meeting, a member shall declare if he or she has an interest in respect to any item on the agenda. If a member has an interest, he or she will declare it, including the nature of the interest and the conflict that results, or may result, from it.

10.1.3 A member who becomes aware during the meeting that he or she has an undeclared interest must declare it immediately.

10.1.4 A member who believes that another member may have an undeclared interest may raise this as a query during a meeting, or with the Chairperson who must then decide how best to resolve the matter.

10.1.5 When the Chairperson, member, alternate member or attendee makes a declaration of conflict of interest, the Chairperson, or in the case of a declaration by the Chairperson, the members as a collective may:

a) refuse the member the right to speak to the business

b) refuse the member the right to vote on that business

c) require the member to withdraw from a meeting for the period of discussion and resolution of that business.

10.1.6 Where the Chairperson, member, alternate member or attendee declares a conflict of interest, this will be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.

11. Subcommittees

11.1.Role of subcommittees

11.1.1 Where required, the NHTWG may establish subcommittees that may include participation by non-members or seek wider consultation to assist the Committee to carry out its functions.

11.1.2 Prior to being established, subcommittees will require a formal written project brief clearly outlining the work to be undertaken by the subcommittees, membership, reporting requirements and associated deliverables and timeframes for the work’s completion.  The subcommittee’s project brief is to be endorsed by the NHTWG.

11.1.3 Subcommittees are to focus exclusively on the tasks assigned to them by the NHTWG and are only permitted to report to the NHTWG.

11.2 Subcommittee membership

11.2.1 The NHTWG shall nominate a member to convene and chair a subcommittee.

11.2.2 With the permission of the Chairperson, subcommittees may meet with or seek information from stakeholder representatives or stakeholder organisations.

12. Business operations

12.1 General meeting procedures

12.1.1 The NHTWG is likely to meet up to four times per year or as required to ensure the Terms of Reference are met. Meetings will typically be conducted through electronic means rather than in person.

12.1.2 Members are expected to strive to attend all meetings.

12.2 Secretariat support

12.2.1 The Convenor shall provide administrative support services to the NHTWG.

The Convenor will:

a) organise meetings in consultation with the Chairperson

b) prepare the meeting agenda under the supervision of the Chairperson and circulate it not less than 5 working days prior to a scheduled meeting, unless otherwise agreed

c) circulate any background, discussion or decision papers not less than 5 working days prior to a scheduled meeting, unless otherwise agreed

d) prepare the minutes in consultation with the Chairperson not less than 10 working days following a meeting, unless otherwise agreed

e) prepare briefings to AGSOC for the endorsement of the Chairperson as required

f) assist the Chairperson in preparing correspondence, reports, or any other document of relevance to NHTWG business

g) maintain files and records of meetings.

12.3 Quorum

12.3.1 A quorum of the NHTWG is constituted by a majority of the members of the NHTWG holding office at that time, including the Chairperson.

12.3.2 No meeting of the NHTWG shall commence or continue unless a quorum is present.

12.3.3 Any duly convened meeting at which a quorum is present shall be competent to consider and resolve any business of the NHTWG and may exercise all the functions of the NHTWG.

12.4 Voting

12.4.1 A decision of the NHTWG should, where possible, be reached by consensus. In the absence of agreement, a decision will be on the basis of the majority view.

12.4.2 An absolute majority will constitute half the voting members present plus one. The Chairperson will retain a deliberative vote and a casting vote in the event of equality of voting. Members will have a single vote.

12.4.3 Resolutions may be circulated to members out-of-session for decision. Members shall be given a minimum of five business days to respond to an out-of-session resolution.

12.5 Meeting agenda and papers

The Convenor shall cause to be circulated in electronic format not less than 5 working days prior to a meeting unless otherwise agreed, an agenda setting out standing business to be considered by the NHTWG.

Standing agenda items will include, but are not limited to:

a) progress of delivery of milestones

b) progress of delivery of tasks assigned to a subcommittee.

12.6 Meeting minutes and correspondence

12.6.1 Meeting minutes should accurately reflect decisions or recommendations made by the NHTWG, specify each item of business discussed, list action items and briefly summarise essential items of discussion.

12.6.2 As soon as practical after the draft minutes are approved by the Chairperson, they will be circulated for review by members and formally adopted at the next meeting.

12.6.3 Following review by the Chairperson and members, correspondence conveying advice from the NHTWG shall be completed as soon as practicable after the meeting at which that advice was discussed.

12.6.4 If of an urgent nature, correspondence from and to the NHTWG between meetings shall be circulated to all members when received, otherwise correspondence will be circulated as part of meeting agendas.

12.7 Effect of vacancy or defect

12.7.1 Under this clause a decision of the NHTWG is not invalid only because:

a) of a vacancy in its membership

b) of a defect or irregularity in the appointment of any of its members.

12.8 External assistance

12.8.1 The NHTWG may resolve to engage a consultant/s to investigate and report on particular matters pertaining to its Terms of Reference.

12.8.2 The Convenor will be responsible for engaging with represented organisations to secure the required funding and for recruiting, briefing and supervising any consultant/s who may be appointed.

12.9 Reporting

12.9.1 The NHTWG is responsible for providing an interim report to AGSOC detailing activities undertaken within one year of the date of its first meeting.

12.9.2The NHTWG is responsible for providing a report of progress against its Terms of Reference to AGSOC within two years of the date of its first meeting.

13. Appendices

13.1 Appendix 1: Represented organisations


The following organisations (represented organisations) are invited to nominate one person to become a member of the National Horse Traceability Working Group:

  • Animal Health Australia
  • Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment
  • Harness Racing Australia
  • Racing Australia
  • Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  • Australian Horse Industry Council
  • Equestrian Australia
  • Each State and Territory Government.

Prospective members nominated by a represented organisation must have knowledge and expertise in at least one of the following areas:

a) horse industry biosecurity threats and animal welfare challenges

b) livestock traceability systems, horse industry identification systems or companion animal registration systems

c) legislation, communications or monitoring and enforcement relating to animal identification and traceability systems.

The independent Chairperson will be appointed by Agriculture Victoria.


The role of the NHTWG will be reviewed by AGSOC no later than three years of the date of its first meeting in relation to its effectiveness and the progress it has made in relation to its Terms of Reference

NHTWG at any time may by resolution agree that its work has ended, and that the Committee can be disbanded.

3.2 Appendix 2: Deed of Confidentiality

Deed of confidentiality

This Deed is made on the [insert day] day of [insert month] 20 [insert year].

BY [insert name] of [insert business/organisation] (the Recipient)

being a member or alternate member of the National Horse Traceability Working Group (NHTWG), or an attendee at an NHTWG committee or subcommittee meeting.


A. The Recipient is appointed as a member, or as an alternate member to the NHTWG, or is invited to attend a Committee or subcommittee meeting (an attendee).

B. The Information to which the Recipient will have access to as a member, alternate member or attendee of the NHTWG is confidential.

C. The Recipient will have access to this Information provided that confidentiality can be maintained, and the Recipient has entered into this Deed in order to acknowledge the conditions under which access to the Information will be granted.

It is agreed:

  1. In this Deed –
    Committee means the NHTWG
    means all information disclosed (whether orally, in writing or in any other form) to the Recipient including but not limited to deliberations of the Committee, correspondence between stakeholders and the NHTWG, and papers supplying information; and includes:
    (i) all agendas, minutes and records, and
    (ii) all related information
    generated by the Recipient based on or arising out of any such disclosure.
    Terms of Reference means theNHTWG Terms of Reference July 2020.
  2. The Recipient agrees to treat as confidential all Information which is disclosed to him/her in the course of carrying out duties as a member or as alternate member on the Committee or a subcommittee.
  3. The Recipient agrees to only use the Information for the purposes of carrying out duties or tasks of the Committee or subcommittee and as required in minutes of meetings, work programs or correspondence from the Chairperson and will not make  any disclosure of Information to his/her representatives, community associates or stakeholders (a Third Party Recipient), without the prior consent of the Chairperson, which consent may be subject to such terms and conditions, including, without limitation, a condition that the Third Party Recipient executes a Deed of Confidentiality on terms substantially identical to this deed, prior to and as a condition of, receiving any Information.
  4. To assist in its deliberations, the NHTWG may from time to time seek feedback on matters pertaining to its Terms of Reference from represented organisations. Where NHTWG seeks such feedback, members are permitted to participate in discussions within their nominating organisations, including by providing background information on the context of the request and by contributing to the drafting of the represented organisation’s feedback. The participation of members in such discussions will not constitute a breach of confidentiality.
  5. The Recipient agrees not to copy or reproduce the Information (in whole or part) without the prior written consent of the Chairperson. The recipient agrees to mark any copies made as ‘Confidential’ and will take all necessary precautions to prevent unauthorised access to or copying of the Information by any other person.
  6. The Recipient agrees to immediately notify the Chairperson on becoming aware of any unauthorised disclosure, copying or use of the Information in any form and will on request by the Chairperson return to the Convenor or destroy or permanently erase (at the Chairperson’s discretion) any or all copies or forms of the Information (in which case any right to use, copy and disclose that information ceases).
  7. The Recipient agrees to not distribute any Information to any other third party unless with the express written consent of the Chairperson.
  8. This Deed does not extend to information that (whether before or after the date of this Deed):
    (a) is rightfully known by, or in the possession or control of, the Recipient and not subject to an obligation of confidentiality on the Recipient
    (b) is public knowledge (otherwise than as a result of a breach of this Deed)
    (c) the Recipient is required by law to disclose or retain, but only to the extent of any such disclosure or retention.
  9. The burden of showing that any Information is not subject to the terms and conditions of this Deed will reside with the Recipient.
  10. Ownership of all intellectual property, which subsists in the Information, remains vested solely with the organisation with whom the Convenor is employed. The Recipient agrees that he/she has no title, rights or interests to the Information, in any way whatsoever.
  11. The Recipient’s obligations under this Deed will continue to have effect event after completion or cessation of the Recipient’s appointment or as a member of the Committee or attendance to the Committee (as the case may be) and until such time as each part of the Information lawfully becomes part of the public domain.
  12. The Recipient acknowledges that the organisation with whom the Convenor is employed is entitled (in addition to any entitlement to damages) to an injunction or other equitable relief for any actual or threatened breach of this Deed and without the need to prove any special damage.
  13. Upon request by the Convenor, the Recipient agrees to deliver to the Convenor, delete, or destroy all documents or parts of documents, in the possession or control of the Recipient containing confidential information.
  14. Any purported variation of a provision of this Deed shall be ineffective unless in writing and executed by the parties.
  15. This Deed is governed by the Law of Victoria.

EXECUTED as a Deed on the date set out at the commencement of this Deed


By [Print name]


In the presence of:

[Print name]

[Witness signature]

Page last updated: 29 Apr 2024