31 March 2021

From RSPCA Australia:

The RSPCA has today released a detailed report and interactive map that highlights the current state of animal welfare regulation at Australian slaughtering establishments.

The scorecard allows the public to compare, for the first time, the way governments regulate animal welfare in abattoirs, knackeries and poultry processors across the country – a move that will not only increase transparency but also strengthen the push for better and more consistent regulation.

RSPCA Australia Chief Scientist Dr Bidda Jones said that the report and scorecard shone a spotlight on significant gaps in animal welfare regulation across the processing industry.

“For a long time, the RSPCA has been concerned about the differences in how Australian slaughtering establishments are regulated between states and territories, and what this means for the welfare of animals at those facilities,” said Dr Jones.

“Voluntary industry standards that go above minimum regulatory requirements can improve animal welfare outcomes when they’re in place.

“But the public should be able to have confidence that all animals in Australia are handled and slaughtered humanely. With the current regulatory system, having that confidence is not always possible.

“If we are going to have surety that animal welfare is being upheld at these establishments – which affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of animals every day – then better regulation is how we achieve it. This is crucial to improving the outcomes for Australian farm animals.”

Dr Jones said the report and scorecard examine seven key measures: animal welfare requirements, audit frequency, auditor training, oversight, CCTV use, company training, and transparency.

“One thing is clear from this report, and that is that in many areas – such as CCTV use – there’s still a long way to go before we can say that all animals slaughtered at Australian abattoirs, poultry processors and knackeries are handled and killed humanely.

“There’s a lot the public doesn’t know about animal welfare in Australian slaughtering establishments – including even how many animals are being slaughtered.

“That’s why the RSPCA has released this report and scorecard, to give the community a greater insight into exactly how animal welfare is being regulated at Australian abattoirs, knackeries and poultry processors.

“We urge government and industry to take note of this report and scorecard. The resumption of progress on the development of the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Livestock at Processing Establishments provides a crucial opportunity to put in place measures to genuinely improve animal welfare and meet the community’s expectations.”

The report is available here and the map here.