Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines

​The Australian Government is working together with states and territories to develop and implement nationally consistent standards and guidelines for farm animal welfare. The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines update and replace the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals, for particular animal industries. The standards are designed to be implemented in state and territory legislation. The standards are accompanied by voluntary guidelines that set out recommended practice for the care and husbandry and animals.

The standards and guidelines are being developed under the direction of an Animal Welfare Task Group, which reports to the Agriculture Senior Officials’ Committee. The task group includes representatives from each of the state and territory government departments responsible for animal welfare, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries.

During the development of the standards and guidelines for each industry or species, a stakeholder advisory group is formed to provide advice. The group includes veterinarians, animal welfare groups and industry representatives. The draft standards and guidelines are also released for public consultation, and community views are incorporated in the development of the final standards and guidelines. Standards and guidelines are provided to agriculture ministers for noting or endorsement. It is then up to each state and territory government to implement the standards, as appropriate for their jurisdiction. The guidelines are a useful reference for people responsible for the care and management of animals and may be used in industry quality assurance programs or other initiatives.

More information

Updates on standards and guidelines currently under development, public consultation and endorsed standards and guidelines for farm animals are available at​. The standards website is maintained by Animal Health Australia, as the project manager for the development of many of the standards and guidelines. Information on the development of the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Exhibited Animals is available on the NSW Department of Primary Industries website.

Model Codes of Practice

Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines have replaced some of the model codes of practice. For other industries, the model codes remain useful guidance on animal welfare and are legislated in some jurisdictions. See CSIRO Publishing's Primary Industries Report Series to access the model codes.

Freedom of Information request

The department received a request (ref: FOI 2014/15-09) under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) for documents in relation to the development of the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Sheep. Documents released under the FOI Act are available on the department's FOI disclosure log.

Last reviewed: 12 August 2021
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