Stock Handling & Animal Welfare

Victoria extends consultation on proposed animal welfare laws

Sheep Central, February 28, 2024

THE Victorian Government has extended the consultation period on the draft Bill for new animal care and protection laws that recognize animal sentience.

Victorians now have until Monday 25 March to have their say on the Bill – which will replace the current Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTA Act).

Executive director of Animal Welfare Victoria, Dr Trevor Pisciotta, said the extension gives interested people and organisations more time to make a submission, following recent extreme weather events.

“We’ve been committed to engaging with key stakeholders and the Victorian community throughout these reforms – this is the third and final round of consultation.

“Regional communities have already strongly influenced the form of the Draft Bill, which will help to maintain the trust of our trading partners, consumers and the community in Victoria’s animal-based activities and industries,” Dr Pisciotta said.

Agriculture Victoria said in addition to the three consultation rounds, it has consulted with more than 50 organisations representing people involved with animals or with an interest in animals and the law. The feedback has been carefully considered and contributed to the reform process to date, the agency said.

Dr Pisciotta said the POCTA Act is nearly 40 years old and does not always reflect current community expectations, developments in animal science or changing industry practices.

“Demonstrating a high standard of animal welfare is critical in supporting Victorian industries to maintain access to important markets. For most Victorians, there will be no major changes to the way they operate daily.”

“These laws will strengthen Victoria’s reputation as a humane and responsible producer of food – while being fit-for-purpose for modern day farming practices,” Dr Pisciotta said.

Key changes include minimum standards of care and requirements around husbandry procedures – that already feature in the existing codes of practice and Australian Standards and Guidelines for Animal Welfare.

Agriculture Victoria said the proposed laws recognise animal sentience – that animals can have positive and negative experiences.

Being explicit about this won’t change how Victorians need to treat their animals, or whether they can be owned or used by humans and it won’t create any legal rights for third parties, nor give animals legal rights, the agency said.

Dr Pisciotta encouraged interested community members, groups and organisations to make a submission and complete a survey about future regulations.

“Please visit the Engage Victoria website, where you will find supporting materials to help you make a submission, including a guide to the draft Bill and a list of Frequently Asked Questions,” Dr Pisciotta said.

For more information and to make a submission visit


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  1. Sherrie Cordie, February 28, 2024

    Sheep farmers take note:
    (2) A person who is not a registered veterinary
    practitioner, must not perform a procedure that
    involves cutting, removing or damaging tissue that
    contains nerves from an animal unless—
    (a) the procedure is of a kind prescribed by the
    regulations; or
    (b) the procedure is carried out in circumstances
    prescribed by the regulations.
    The current regulations do not mention tail docking or castration. When the POCTA regulations come up for review we must ensure that these procedures are prescribed in the regulations or each incidence of tail docking or castration will be an offence unless performed by a vet.
    We must also ensure that the new bill is not enacted until the regulations are changed to allow farmers to tail dock and castrate.
    I suggest all interested farmers subscribe to related updates from the Engage Victoria website to be alerted when the regulations are up for review.

  2. Vera Collis, February 28, 2024

    I wholeheartedly support improved conditions for farm animals. Particularly in the necessity for adequate natural or man-made shelter for outdoor animals.
    Also that farm animals should not be transported in excessive heat or cold/windy conditions on the road, especially during weather extremes.
    Farm animals should also not be overcrowded during transport.
    I believe farm animals are sentient beings who deserve to be treated humanely and with respect.

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