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The Animal Defenders Office (ADO) is a national non-profit community legal centre that specialises in animal law.


The ADO was incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory in late 2013. In 2017 we were formally recognised and accredited by the Australian National Association of Community Legal Centres as part of the National Accreditation Scheme ("NAS") Phase 2. On 11 May 2022 we were formally accredited by CLCs Australia Inc under NAS Phase 3.

The ADO is a member of Community Legal Centres NSW Inc. and Community Legal Centres Australia Inc.

The ADO has a governing Board of Management made up of local lawyers, public servants and other professionals. We also have a Legal Practice Committee of experienced lawyers and animal law experts to provide advice and guidance on our matters as required.

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As a community legal centre that focuses on helping animals and animal advocates, the ADO:

  • Offers free advice and representation for individuals and groups that want to take action for animals; and

  • Produces information to raise community awareness about animal protection; and

  • Works to advance animal interests through law reform.

We are a national community legal centre in that we aim to assist individuals and groups from around Australia with matters affecting animals and their (human) defenders.

We are run by volunteers and receive no ongoing government funding. In 2022, however, we received a short-term grant from the NSW Government's Social Sector Support Fund to hire our first paid solicitor to help us with our COVID-19 backlog! Congratulations Sarah Margo on being NSW's first paid community animal lawyer!❤ 

Our Strategic Plan is available here.


Community legal centre for animals and advocates

The animals depicted in the ADO logo represent just some of the categories of animals needing protection, being wildlife, domestic animals, and farmed animals.


An artistic rendition of our original logo, by Patrick Duthie

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The objects for which the Animal Defenders Office is established are:

  1. To empower and encourage the community to protect animals through the law;

  2. To promote respect for the environment and the individual animals and species who depend on it for their survival and wellbeing;

  3. To raise awareness within the community about legal aspects of the treatment and use of animals by humans;

  4. To provide advice on the law affecting animals and those who protect them;

  5. To carry out and publish research on animal protection and other related areas of law;

  6. To seek appropriate law reform to improve the protection of animals and the ability of humans to make compassionate choices;

  7. To promote public interest animal protection litigation and forms of alternative animal protection dispute resolution; and

  8. To promote links between the association and similar organisations in the ACT, interstate and overseas.


The Animal Defenders Office's core values are:

(a) Respect for the inherent value of all individual sentient creatures.

(b) Respect for other animal protection and environmental groups with similar values to those of our organisation.

(c) Respect for each other within our organisation.

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