News and Events
ADO volunteers and supporters share their lockdown moments :)
19 June 2020
As Covid-19 restrictions continue to ease in the ACT, we reflected on how our resilient volunteers and supporters got through the weeks of 'iso'. Some spent time cuddled up with their furry and feathered friends, some took up new hobbies, others got stuck into old ones with the help of a drop (or three) of ADO fundraiser wine 😉, one grew a beard and another was even admitted to the legal profession of the ACT from the comfort of a living room couch!
Sending a big thank you to all our volunteers and followers for sticking with us during these weird times 👏🧡
ADO teams up with animal orgs to deliver webinars for activists during lockdown
21-28 May 2020
With the light at the end of the lockdown tunnel firmly in sight, ADO volunteer lawyers joined forces with local animal protection organisations to present a series of webinars and Q&A sessions on organising and running lawful protests and events. We thank Animal Justice Party NSW, Sydney Animal Save, Animal Rights Activism Sydney and SOS for organising the events, and our volunteer lawyers for delivering the presentations.
It was great to see that the lockdown had not dampened enthusiasm for getting back out on the streets to advocate for animals!
ADO article on wildlife and the law in
ACT Law Society Journal 'Ethos'
15 May 2020
Just released! The ACT Law Society has published a journal for Law Week 2020 focussing on wildlife. It features an article by the ADO about how ALL native wild animals need protection especially after the bushfires, and how lawyers can help achieve that.
You can read the article here.
For the whole journal, see here.
ADO marks World Day for Laboratory Animals
24 April 2020
Today is World Day for Laboratory Animals 2020, a chance for us to reflect on how well the law can protect these animals - or not, as we recently discovered. Thousands of animals in Australia are born, confined, used, killed and disposed of in ultra-secure laboratories. They are the invisible of the invisible. For that reason we leapt at the chance to represent clients who wanted to take legal action to rescue several individual rabbits used in research laboratories in NSW.
You can read about the case here.
ADO office closes during COVID-19 lockdown but volunteers keep going from home
23 March 2020
We reluctantly closed our little volunteer office in the middle of Canberra's CBD as the whole country went into COVID-19 lockdown at the end of March 2020.
We are extremely grateful to all our fabulous volunteers who have been able to keep helping out animals and their defenders from home during 'iso'🙏🏽
ADO Executive Director interviewed by mainstream legal media about how the law fails animals
19 March 2020
The ADO’s Executive Director was interviewed by top Sydney law firm Sydney Criminal Lawyers about how our laws fail to protect animals and their defenders.
The article can be read here.
ADO lawyers give evidence at Parliamentary Inquiry into animal cruelty laws
13 February 2020
We travelled up to Sydney today to give evidence at the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into the enforcement of animal cruelty laws. In essence we said that the animal cruelty legal framework in NSW, which delegates enforcement of anti-cruelty laws to private charities, fundamentally fails to protect animals in need. Our thanks to Mark Pearson and Emma Hurst - Animal Justice Party MPs - for initiating this ground-breaking inquiry, and to our volunteer lawyers Farnham and Tara for giving evidence at the hearing. You can watch our lawyers in action at the inquiry here.
The committee’s report was released on 4 June 2020 and is available here.
Successful appeal against sentence for hen rescuer
7 February 2020
SUCCESS today in Parramatta District Court! We represented one of the Lakesland Hen Rescuers in their appeal against the severity of the sentence they'd received in Liverpool Local Court in 2019.
The lower court had recorded a conviction and given a $1,500 fine.
The appeal was opposed by the public prosecutor, but the Court upheld our appeal, set aside the sentence and handed down a much more lenient sentence instead: no conviction recorded, no fine, and a 12 month ‘good behaviour bond’.
We said NUP! to the Cup in more ways than one
5 November 2019
We went from the serious today, protesting against cruelty to racehorses at the Canberra racecourse, to the seriously funny, racing in inflated T-Rex costumes as part of the inaugural Compassionate Stakes in the centre of Canberra!
The ADO's Executive Director was in red for the big finale race, the Compassionate Stakes, and came a respectable third! :)
Congratulations to all who took a stand for compassion and against cruelty today!
ADO successfully represent animal defenders in Goulburn District Court
28 October 2019
Three young animal advocates were appealing the sentences handed to them by the Magistrates Court earlier in the year after they entered Goulburn abattoir in April 2019 to raise awareness about the plight of the 6000 sheep slaughtered there every day. Today the District Court set aside the lower Court’s sentence on the grounds of severity, so no conviction recorded, no compensation to the police and the abattoir, and no fines. Our clients were instead given a 12-month good behaviour bond. We thank our volunteer lawyers Naaman Kranz, partner with K & R Animal Law, and ADO’s managing solicitor Tara Ward, for representing the animal defenders in Court today.
ACT first to recognise animal sentience in law
17 October 2019
The ACT has become the first jurisdiction in Australia to recognise in law the sentience and intrinsic value of animals!
The Animal Welfare Act (s4A) now states that:
(1) The main objects of this Act are to recognise that—
(a) animals are sentient beings that are able to subjectively feel and perceive the world around them; and
(b) animals have intrinsic value and deserve to be treated with compassion and have a quality of life that reflects their intrinsic value...
The Animal Welfare Act is available on the ACT Legislation Register.
ADO panel puts case for legal personhood for animals during National Law Week
16 May 2019
The theme for this year's National Law week was 'Lawyers: protecting your rights', so what better subject to talk about than the millions of creatures who don't have rights! Could they have rights under our legal system? If not, what are lawyers doing around the world to get legal systems to recognise animal rights? These and other fascinating issues were explored at an ‘evening of animal law’ which we presented to a packed room of professionals and the general public. We thank the ACT Law Society for hosting the event, and our fabulous speakers for bringing animals into the national discussion about legal rights and the role of lawyers in protecting them.
ADO defends hen rescuers
25-29 March 2019
The ADO is representing several animal rescuers who were charged with criminal offences including stealing and trespassing after attempting to rescue neglected and dying hens from a barn egg production facility in 2018. The trial of the rescuers was held in Liverpool Local Court. Video footage played during the hearing showed dead and dying hens and was a reminder of the suffering of thousands of hens at the heart of this case. Prosecution witnesses (RSPCA inspectors) gave evidence against the rescuers.
While originally set down for a 5-day hearing, the case was adjourned until 17-19 July for further hearing.
ADO delivers lecture for animal ethics course
18 March 2019
The ADO is a proud supporter of the ANU's Centre for Continuing Education's course on the ethics of animal liberation. This year the course offered an expanded program, with an additional class on animals, ethics and law reform which was given by the ADO's Executive Director.
This is the third year in a row that the course on animal ethics has been offered by the Centre for Continuing Education, and each time the course has had full enrolments. The course is unique to Canberra, and explores Western attitudes to animals from the ancients to the post-moderns.
Witnessing the start of VIC duck shooting season
16 March 2019
We joined intrepid ACT animal rescuers as they headed down to Victoria for the opening of the duck shooting season on Saturday 16 March 2019 at Lake Cullen. Hardly a shot was fired though, as the shooters were not allowed to shoot until mid-morning when the birds had all but disappeared. Rescuers also reported the shooters to authorities for leaving an unattended and unextinguished fire in their campsite, which is a breach of regulations and can result in a hefty fine. Our hard-working volunteers have updated our fact sheet that sets out all the offences and penalties that can apply to rescuers - see our Fact Sheet page. Typically, the legal system is stacked against the wildlife and their protectors, and facilitates the shooting.
ADO community legal education for animal activists
3 March 2019
ADO lawyers teamed up with local animal activist organisation LEGION DX Sydney to deliver a series of presentations on legal issues that can affect animal activists. The workshop was held at the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre. Sessions looked at public assembly laws, use of cameras in public/private, graffiti laws, police powers, and more. It was great meeting so many committed people who gave up their Sunday to find out more about the laws that can affect them in their pursuit of justice for animals. Huge thanks to the amazing LEGION DX for hosting, and to the dedicated ADO volunteer lawyers and interns for all their hard work in preparing the presentations. For more:
Seeing in the new year at NSW animal sanctuary
27 January 2019
What better way to officially see in the new year than celebrating 18 years of kindness to animals at NSW animal sanctuary, 'A Poultry Place'.
The empty dam was a stark reminder of how tough sanctuaries are doing at the moment, looking after society’s discarded and unwanted animals in drought conditions. Our thanks to the human and non-human hosts at A Poultry Place, and here’s hoping for some rain!
ADO lawyers lecture in animal law at NSW university
12 January 2019
The year got off to a busy start as some of our volunteer lawyers headed to Sydney to teach animal law at the University of NSW. Throughout the course we heard from other animal law experts and organisations, including Voiceless, Lawyers for Companion Animals, and a former RSPCA inspector discussing the difficulties in having animal welfare laws enforced by private charities or the police. Yet another reminder that we need an independent, properly funded third body to enforce existing laws that are there supposedly to protect animals. Perhaps 2019 is the year that finally happens?!
ADO speaks to law-makers about dog laws
5 December 2018
We visited Caroline Le Couteur, Member of the ACT Legislative Assembly, Member for Murrumbidgee and Greens animal welfare spokesperson, to discuss the proposed tightening of the ACT’s dangerous dog laws.
We spoke up for the dogs who can end up on death row without getting a second chance. In our view, every dog deserves that second chance and in some instances the proposed laws would take that away. We were grateful for the opportunity to be able to put our views to an elected representative, and for the Greens’ interest in this important animal welfare matter.
ADO commended for pro bono work
31 August 2018
We were deeply honoured to be recognised by the ACT Law Society for our pro bono work at the Society’s annual dinner and awards night this year.
Our special commendation was presented to us by the ACT Attorney General Gordon Ramsay. We are thrilled and humbled to be recognised by our peers, and can’t thank the Law Society enough for its support of our fledging community legal centre.
We also congratulate the other award recipients on the night – there are certainly many extremely talented (and entertaining!) lawyers in the ACT!
ADO speaks at Parliamentary inquiry into ivory and rhino horn trade
9 July 2018
The ADO went to the Australian Parliament today, about elephants and rhinoceros! We were invited to appear at the public hearing of the Joint Parliamentary Committee looking at the trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn. ADO intern Scott Dempsey elaborated on the arguments we put forward in our submission as to how a ban on the domestic trade in elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn could be achieved under Australia’s constitution. The ADO thanks the Committee for inviting us to speak. We also thank all our amazing volunteers, without whom we couldn’t do what we do. Our submission is #55 and available on the Committee's website here.
ADO delivers 'Animal Law 101' at Legal Aid ACT
6 June 2018
Legal Aid ACT runs a popular series 'Law For Non-Lawyers', and this week the ADO gave an introduction to animal law as part of the series. In our 2-hour presentation we looked at how the law treats animals, and whether or not it protects their interests. We also introduced some of the big 'animal law questions' like whether animals have legal rights, what their legal status is, where our animal protection laws come from, and whether there have been any animal law test cases in Australia.
The ADO thanks Legal Aid ACT for the invitation to participate in this important community education series.
ACT Government to kill 3,200 healthy kangaroos
9 May 2018
Ironically the same Government that has just implemented a ban on greyhound racing has announced it will kill 3,200 healthy wild kangaroos in the Territory. ACT politicians (Labor, Liberals and Greens) have removed the ability to review the merits of the government’s decision to kill these healthy native wild animals, but our disenfranchised community has not been silenced in its opposition to this barbaric program. Check this website: http://stopthecull.net.au/ and these petitions: https://www.change.org/p/act-government-time-to-end-the-canberra-kangaroo-cull-permanently and
We made it - ACT greyhound racing ban comes into force!
30 April 2018
History was made today! The ACT became the first jurisdiction in Australia in which a ban of greyhound racing actually started! No backflips in this jurisdiction! From this day it is unlawful to ‘conduct, or facilitate the conduct of, a greyhound race in the ACT’ (s18A of the Animal Welfare Act 1992 (ACT)).
The ADO congratulates the ACT Government and all the animal advocates who have made this happen!
ADO takes part in university panel
9 April 2018
Today we took the train to Victoria to participate in a panel discussion on animal rights and animal welfare at Wodonga's La Trobe University campus. The panel was part of the Rethinking Our Humanity interdisciplinary course. The discussion was wide ranging and offered a variety of viewpoints about our interactions with non-human animals. Inevitably how we regulate those interactions through laws and codes of practice was an area of interest, as was the consumption of a plant-based diet, and the difference between animal welfare and animal rights (a favourite topic of the ADO's). Many thanks to La Trobe University for hosting the panel and for inviting the ADO to participate. Going by the audience interaction, it was a very successful evening.
ADO stands up in defence of ducks
17 March 2018
We came, we saw, and we stood up for ducks on the Victorian wetlands during the opening weekend of the annual duck shooting season in Victoria. Mercifully it was quiet. The presence of authorised officers and the later start time (9am) stifled the shooting. The birds had stopped flying around by then. It will be back to the usual start time of 7.20am next weekend, just when the birds are getting up for the day...
Rather than ban this hideous activity, this year the Victorian government introduced new laws to regulate cruel and wasteful practices by shooters. You can find out about these new laws in our fact sheet here.
ADO successfully defends dog guardian in court
19 January 2018
The ADO had a win in court today! We successfully defended a caring person who had purchased an ex-breeder dog to give the dog a full and happy life – only to have the breeder demand the dog back when the new owner asked questions about the poor state of the dog. The breeder was so determined to get the dog back that they lodged a claim in the local court, but the ADO argued for the defendant and the court dismissed the breeder's claim. Now the dog can stay with a loving family and not have to return to the life of a breeder or show dog.
This is a win for all dogs who are treated as objects, forced to produce puppies for profit or paraded at shows as property.
ADO honours former RSPCA inspector with top award
14 December 2017
We held an ‘awards night’ this week to honour some amazing animal defenders. The inaugural ADO 'Animal Protection Award' went to Catherine Croatto, former RSPCA inspector. For years Catherine worked tirelessly behind the scenes to bring justice to abused and neglected animals in our region. Catherine had the highest number of animals brought into the RSPCA's shelter via the inspectorate in the organisation’s history, and the highest prosecution rate ever achieved. To see the results of Catherine's hard work check out the list of people banned by Courts from owning animals since 2015. Catherine ceased working for the RSPCA ACT in mid-2017. You can read an interview with Catherine about her work as an animal-cruelty inspector in our December 2017 newsletter here. We also honoured our major benefactor, Dr John Ward. His generous support of the ADO keeps the doors open and the lights on in our small volunteer-run city office. We couldn’t do what we do without Dr Ward's support.
ACT passes legislation to ban greyhound racing
28 November 2017
A ban on greyhound racing is now LAW in the ACT! The amendments to the Racing Act and the Domestic Animals Act passed the ACT Legislative Assembly on 28 November 2017. The ban will take effect on 30 April 2018. The Minister responsible for animal welfare, Meegan Fitzharris MLA, said: ‘The welfare of greyhounds is at the centre of these important reforms. It is 25 years since the Territory banned wild-animal circuses. We are now set to be the first to follow through with a ban on greyhound racing…and we won’t be the last.’
The ADO congratulates the ACT Government and all those who have fought for justice for the animals involved in this activity in the ACT.
Animal advocates defeat 'ag-gag' charges in Court
8 August 2017
What a day! The prosecution of two animal advocates under NSW ‘surveillance devices’ laws was dismissed by the Court in Cootamundra today. The defence counsel argued that the prosecution had not complied with a technical requirement that was there to protect people whom the State had accused of serious offences. The Magistrate was ultimately persuaded and dismissed the hearing. He said the technical requirement had been placed in the legislation by Parliament, and was not a small thing. The Magistrate then found it just and reasonable to award costs in favour of the accused persons. The ADO were the solicitors on the record. We congratulate the animal advocates for the courage they have shown throughout this drawn-out and stressful process.
ADO receives legal sector stamp of approval
24 July 2017
In an exciting development for animal law in Australia, the ADO has been awarded accreditation by the Australian National Association of Community Legal Centres ('NACLC')! We are now a fully accredited national community legal centre specialising in animal law – the first of its kind in NSW and the ACT! This is a massive milestone for our small, independent, volunteer-run organisation. The National Accreditation Scheme is an industry based certification process that supports and recognises good practice in the delivery of community legal services. We thank NACLC and CLCNSW for their support, and all our amazing volunteers who made reaching this milestone possible! Formal certification will enable us to continue giving animals a voice from 'within' the system. For an article about our accreditation in the Lawyers Weekly, one of Australia’s most widely distributed legal journals, see here.
ADO speaks out against piggery at public forum in Harden NSW
11 July 2017
The ADO joined other animal advocates to speak against a proposed piggery at a public forum in Harden NSW. Despite objections from the piggery proponents, we showed that animal welfare is(!) relevant to a development application to house 25,000 pigs in extremely confined conditions for their entire lives. We commend Say No To Blantyre Farms In Harden, Animal Liberation ACT, Animal Liberation (NSW), the Animal Justice Party and many locals for speaking against the proposal on behalf of animals. For more information on the proposal and our objections to it, see our submissions page here.
ACT government kills over 1,000 NSW kangaroos
7 July 2017
The ACT government has announced its kangaroo kill has ended for another year. This year the government was responsible for the death of over 2,500 healthy, 'protected' native animals. This brutal method of 'managing' wildlife highlights the flaws in our legal system when it comes to wildlife. Kangaroos are 'protected fauna' under ACT law. Yet this did not stop the ACT government from also declaring them to be pests. This in turn allowed the government to kill these native animals without having to get a licence, making any form of public scrutiny of the killing impossible. The government's perverted approach to 'managing' wildlife extended into NSW this year. The 'vast majority' of the kangaroos killed in the 2017 cull were shot at Googong in NSW. For more information on how the law allows the ACT government to kill large numbers of kangaroos in another jurisdiction, see our Q&A page here.
ACT announces greyhound racing ban
23 June 2017
The ACT Attorney General has announced that greyhound racing will be banned in law by mid 2018 due to animal welfare concerns! The ACT currently has a fully functioning greyhound racing track so the long lead time is to transition the people and animals involved out of the industry. The ADO congratulates the ACT Government for its compassionate response to the enormous animal welfare problems inherent in greyhound racing. If the ban is actually implemented (unlike in NSW), this will be a fantastic outcome for thousands of dogs.
More information about the Government's ban: http://www.cmtedd.act.gov.au/greyhoundtaskforce.
For a recent history of attempted bans on greyhound racing in NSW and the ACT, see our fact sheet here.
ADO volunteers go wildlife spotting in Bush Capital
21 June 2017
Hardworking ADO volunteers took a break from the law and headed out to the Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary in Canberra for a night tour. Lots of local native animals were spotted, including the famous bettongs bounding about in the freezing darkness. Sugar gliders, swamp wallabies and red-neck wallabies were out and about. Even an echidna was seen - unusual at this frosty time of year in Canberra. It was also really great seeing eastern grey kangaroos valued as part of the local environment!
ADO proud to deliver National Law Week 2017 presentation
18 May 2017
The ADO was extremely proud to participate once again in National Law Week at the invitation of the ACT Law Society. We teamed up with the Tara Costigan Foundation to give a presentation on 'Animals: the forgotten victims of domestic violence.' The seminar explored the impact of family violence on human and animal victims. It considered some of the social and legal challenges when animals and their guardians are involved in family abuse situations, and some possible solutions. National Law Week is held in May across Australia. This year's theme was 'Law and Justice in Your Community'. Our event was sold out. For photos of the event see here.
ADO takes part in Animal Law Week 2017
26 April 2017
Animal Law Week is an initiative of the Animal Law Institute based in Melbourne. The purpose of Animal Law Week is to ‘bring together legal professionals and experts in events across Australia, to facilitate discussion on the most pressing animal law issues and what must be changed to achieve a just world for animals.’
One of the most pressing animal law issues in the ACT and NSW is how governments are using the law to make it easier to harm wildlife. At the top of the target list are Eastern Grey Kangaroos. We explored this issue in our first ever Animal Law Week lecture, which was titled 'Licence to kill: how new wildlife laws threaten animals and democracy'.
The Nation's Capital marches for compassion
11 March 2017
Incredible scenes in Canberra this weekend, as people marched in the streets for animals. The turn out for the ACT's inaugural 'March to Close All Slaughterhouses' was amazing. The usually quiet weekend streets of the Nation's Capital came alive with compassion.
The ADO thanks the organisers for inviting our Executive Director to talk at the event. We were proud to be there as lawyers who care about the most abused and vulnerable creatures on this earth.
For more on the event, including photos, see here.
Ethical and legal concerns about new rabbit poison released in the ACT
4 March 2017
Today a cruel new rabbit poison is being laid in the ACT. The new ‘RHDV K5’ is intended to kill rabbits in the wild. Yet keepers of pet rabbits are deeply concerned that the virus will spread to their beloved companions. The new poison takes up to 48 hours to kill the animal in an extremely agonizing way. While the ADO condemns the use of this poison on any type of rabbits, we note that laying poison to kill wild animals where it’s ‘reasonably likely’ the poison will kill domestic animals is against the law. Have government agencies done enough to prevent domestic rabbits from being killed by the new poison which spreads easily by mosquitos? No major announcements warning rabbit keepers of the release have been made, and stocks of the relevant vaccine are at dangerously low levels. For more, see our media release here.
ADO condemns government's anti-democratic moves to change kangaroos' legal status
14 February 2017
The ADO absolutely condemns the Government’s declaration of local kangaroos as a ‘controlled native species’ (which is legalese for 'environmental pest'). It is a desperate attempt by the Government to avoid scrutiny of its controversial decisions to kill thousands of healthy native wild kangaroos and joeys each year. This sets a very dangerous precedent. Now by the stroke of a pen a Minister can declare war on any native species he or she regards as a nuisance, without having to worry about the public challenging that decision. Accountability in government decision-making has been the real victim of the Government’s declaration. For more, see our media release here.
ADO speaks out about illegal aspects of kangaroo cull
24 January 2017
The ADO has spoken out about illegal aspects of the ACT Government’s annual kangaroo kills in a Canberra Times article. Illegal shooting devices have been used in the culls since 2009. Kangaroos were shot over the last two years under an invalid licence. This raises the obvious question of what is not right about the culls? Killing thousands of healthy native wild animals every year is an extremely serious matter, yet the Government rides roughshod over the laws that regulate this cruel practice. You can read the full article here.
Waiting list for new ANU open-education course on animal ethics!
7 February 2017
The ADO is a proud supporter of the Australian National University’s first open adult education philosophy course on ethics and animals. We were extra chuffed when we learnt that the course had reached its maximum number of enrolments. It shows there’s a keen interest in learning about ethical approaches to interacting with animals. The course is taught by Dr Walter Kudrycz, who teaches several other philosophy and history courses. As a long-time animal advocate, he thought it was about time there was a philosophy course on animals. We look forward to the course being offered again in the future. For more information about the ANU’s Centre for Continuing Education, see here.
ADO sees in Year of the Rooster at poultry sanctuary
22 January 2017
We had another wonderful day at A Poultry Place, the oldest animal sanctuary in the Capital region. This animal haven does a fantastic job in looking after rescued animals, especially unwanted roosters born as part of school hatching projects. These projects often lead to large numbers of roosters needing rehoming, placing a huge burden on sanctuaries like A Poultry Place that provide these birds with a ‘forever’ home. ADO volunteers had a great time meeting these fellows and other residents, and heartily congratulates A Poultry Place on its 16 wonderful years!
New year off to sad start for native ducks
3 January 2017
The Victorian Labor Government today announced the 2017 Duck Shooting season. It will start on Saturday 18 March and continue for 3 months. Shooters will be able to take away 10 birds per day (but leave behind unlimited numbers of shot and wounded birds). Last year's ban on shooting the Blue-winged Shoveler (pictured) remains in place due to dwindling numbers.
The ADO's fact sheet on the laws affecting duck rescuers during the shooting season is available on our fact sheet page.
See the Coalition Against Duck Shooting for more information about duck shooting in Victoria.
ADO joins in compassionate Christmas
20 December 2016
The ADO joined with other local animal protection organisations to celebrate the festive season at a city cafe. Together with Animal Liberation ACT and Vegan ACT supporters, we reflected on the year that was, some of its highlights and lowlights, and the challenges that lie ahead.
ADO super volunteers Bel and Alana helped celebrate the moment.
New strata laws in NSW slightly more animal friendly
30 November 2016
New strata laws started today in NSW. Assistance animals can no longer be banned from strata properties. This brings strata laws into line with anti-discrimination laws. Also model strata rules now default to allowing pets, but the body corporate can still overrule that and make specific rules banning pets.
For more on the changes to the rules governing strata properties, see the Tenants' Union of NSW.
Animal Law Conference in Sydney looks at animal sentience
22 October 2016
We had a great time at the Animal Law Conference in Sydney on the weekend. The Conference grappled with some big law reform issues. It asked what should be prioritised - an independent office of animal welfare or legal recognition of sentience? There were a lot of different views from the expert speakers and conference goers about what should be tackled first.
Congratulations to NSW Young Lawyers Animal Law Committee for organising another super-informative event.
Baird backflips on ban
11 October 2016
Today the NSW Government made a devastating announcement to reverse the ban on the greyhound racing industry.
Mike Baird said months ago that ‘Better regulation has been attempted, and failed, many times.’ Nothing has happened since then to render that statement untrue, except for bad polls and shrill cries of faux outrage from shock jocks. What an incredibly sad day for thousands of dogs, and for those who have campaigned for so long and so hard to end this inherently cruel animal entertainment industry.
4th ICAS conference big success in Canberra
30 September - 1 October 2016
The fourth Institute of Critical Animal Studies Oceania conference was held over 2 days in Canberra and featured a number of fascinating presentations on the practice and theory of animal activism.
In the second of two animal law panels, ADO Director Mike Rosalky gave an engaging talk on 'Criminalising dissent: Ag-gag laws and why we shouldn't panic'. Mike argued that the laws would generate negative media about the industries they are designed to protect, that they may be struck down by courts as invalid, and that they may incentivise activists to obtain more footage of animal cruelty. Congratulations to the event organisers for another very successful event!
Team ADO 5km winners in Canberra Fun Run
4 September 2016
Team ADO had over 25 keen lawyers and animal advocates participating in this year’s Canberra Times Fun Run.
Team ADO surpassed all expectations (really, we had none!) by winning the 5 km event, and coming 4th in the 10 km event. Our 14 km runners blitzed their event too.
ADO hosts sold-out screening of The Animal Condition in Canberra
22 August 2016
The ADO hosted the ACT launch of the critically acclaimed and controversial Australian documentary 'The Animal Condition'. A packed cinema saw what four young people found when they investigated how 'food' animals are treated in Australia and talked to all sides involved in the debate.
Special guests the Hon. Mark Pearson from the Animal Justice Party, Member of NSW’s Legislative Council, and a star of the film in his own right, with Sarah-Jane McAllan, co-writer and producer of the film, attended the screening for a short Q&A session after the film. Thanks to Fan-Force for coordinating the screening.
NSW Parliament passes historic law to shut down greyhound racing industry
24 August 2016
After almost 12 hours of debate led by NSW Deputy Premier the Hon. Troy Grant, the NSW Lower House passed the Greyhound Racing Prohibition Bill 2016. The final vote was held at 3:46 AM on the morning of Wednesday 24 August and was 49 for, 30 against. This means that in NSW greyhound racing will be completely banned as of 1 July 2017.
The passing of this law is history in the making, as an Australian parliament voted to outlaw an entire animal industry on animal welfare grounds. The ADO congratulates the NSW lawmakers who voted in favour of kindness and justice!
ACT Supreme Court overturns conviction of kangaroo defender
21 July 2016
In a short appeal hearing today the ACT Supreme Court overturned the conviction of kangaroo activist Dr Chris Klootwijk, a 71 year-old Canberra resident.
In April 2016 the ACT Magistrates Court had found Dr Klootwijk guilty of hindering a public official by blowing a whistle during the 2015 kangaroo cull. On the night in question the public official's duties included supervising the cull. On appeal the Supreme Court found that the cull licence was invalid and therefore Dr Klootwijk could not illegally hinder an unlawful cull.
The ADO helps new animal advocates be 'law savvy'
3 July 2016
It was standing room only at the Practical Advocacy Workshop for new animal advocates and activists in Canberra. Organised by Vegan ACT, the workshop was a huge success, showcasing the wide array of animal protection organisations in the nation's Capital.
Mike, ADO volunteer lawyer and Director, gave an overview of some of the laws that animal advocates and activists need to be aware of. It was a great event to be part of – congratulations to the organisers and participants!
Animal circuses may be a thing of the past in NSW
2 June 2016
In a first for Australia, Mark Pearson, Animal Justice Party MLC, told the NSW Parliament that he intends to introduce a bill to ban animal circuses. The ACT is currently the only jurisdiction to ban circuses using certain wild animals such as lions and elephants. It is also illegal for circus troupes with these animals to enter the ACT. But circuses with other species of animals are allowed. Recently the Moscow Circus set up its tents in Canberra with water buffalo, camels, llamas and even two macaws. Being in circuses subjects these animals to a lifetime of captivity and travel. The proposed NSW bill would only allow circuses to travel with companion animals. Congratulations to Alex Greenwich, Independent MP for Sydney, and Mark Pearson, Animal Justice Party NSW, for co-sponsoring the proposed bill.
Animals take centre stage in National Law Week 2016
17 May 2016
In possibly a first for the ACT, animal law took centre stage in a Law Week event this year. A panel of academics and legal practitioners spoke at a seminar organised by the ACT Law Society, the Alternative Law Journal and the ADO. The panel spoked about the legalised acts of cruelty to hundreds of millions of animals in Australia, how our laws could be modernised to recognise animals as persons, how undemocratic our animal welfare laws and policies are because they’re based on economic values not community values, and whether the ‘best interests’ test could be used on animals when families separate, thereby treating them as sentient beings not property. There was a full house for this unique Law Week event.
Intern from Sydney completes Practical Legal Training with the ADO
6 May 2016
Over the last few months the ADO was lucky to have a PLT (Practical Legal Training) intern with us from Sydney's College Of Law.
Madelene was a huge help, and we’re very grateful for her enthusiasm, good humour, and most of all her great legal skills! She totally earned her "Animal Lawyer's Survival Kit", which just may have included some exclusive ADO red wine... :)
Animal advocate found guilty of disrupting ACT kangaroo cull
26 April 2016
A kangaroo defender who blew a whistle outside a nature reserve where the 2015 kangaroo cull was taking place has been found guilty of one charge of hindering an official in carrying out the cull. ACT Government employees said shooting was interrupted for 45 minutes while officials investigated the whistle blowing. That was enough to land the animal defender in court for a 3 day hearing, and ultimately a conviction. He was sentenced to a 6-month good behaviour order. The defender is considering an appeal to the ACT Supreme Court.
ADO delivers community legal education session to duck rescuers
26 February 2016
After the 2016 Victorian duck shooting season was announced, the ADO delivered a community legal eduction session to duck rescuers about the offences and penalties that apply to rescuers during the duck shooting season. Despite record drought conditions and low bird numbers, this year's shooting season will go ahead on Saturday 19 March. Each year rescuers from the ACT travel down to the Victorian wetlands to assist in rescuing shot and injured birds left for dead by shooters. Since penalties apply to non-shooters going near the shoreline or taking birds to vets, it is essential rescuers are fully informed of the legal risks involved in helping to defend native wildlife on the wetlands. The ADO's fact sheet setting out the offences and penalties that apply to rescuers can be viewed here.
Supporters of kangaroo defender given rough time in court
24 February 2016
Kangaroo defender Chris Klootwijk appeared in court on 24 February 2016 charged with disrupting the 2015 kangaroo cull. The prosecution's case was that the 72 year old activist had disrupted shooting for 40 minutes one night by blowing a whistle outside the nature reserve where the shooting was taking place. In a packed court room the prosecution tried unsucessfully to have the public removed claiming there were 'protestors' amongst them. The prosecution then alleged members of the gallery were taking photos of the witnesses, and petitioned the court to have all mobile phones and electronic devices confiscated. The court acceded to this request. This created a timely diversion for the prosecution's star witness, a shooter, who had been at the receiving end of a tough cross examination from the defence barrister. The hearing was adjourned until 8 April.
Record numer of objections lodged against proposed intensive piggery in Harden NSW
5 February 2016
A new intensive piggery is planned for Harden, only 1.5 hours outside of the ACT. The proposed piggery would house up to 25,113 pigs and consist of 21 sheds in which these animals will spend their entire lives. Some of the housing that the female pigs will be kept in is banned across the border in the ACT. Given the significant animal welfare concerns with any intensive animal housing, the ADO lodged an objection to the proposal. We weren't the only ones - reports have emerged that a record number of complaints was received by the local council.
The ADO's objection can be viewed here.
For more details about why this piggery should not go ahead, see Say No To Blantyre Farms In Harden. For information about the proponents' other intensive piggeries, see Australian Pig Farming: The Inside Story.
ADO winds down for 2015 with the animals at Little Oak Sanctuary
20 December 2015
The ADO crew headed to the hills for its end of year festivities. The wonderful Little Oak Sanctuary hosted a sunset picnic for its last Open Day of the year, and the ADO team welcomed the opportunity to hang out with pigs, goats, horses and cows. It was a very happy way to see out the working year!
The ADO is proud to have helped the Little Oak Sanctuary set up as an animal charity. For more information about the wonderful work this animal haven does, check out its website here: www.littleoaksanctuary.org
Great start to the year at A Poultry Place - an amazing animal sanctuary near Canberra
23 January 2016
The ADO joined with many other animal defenders from around the country to celebrate the 15th birthday of
A Poultry Place - the region's oldest animal sanctuary!
We came face to face with many rescued critters, including discarded roosters from school hatching projects (unfortunately still legal in the ACT), ex battery cage hens with cut-off beaks, and ex factory farm turkeys revelling in the fresh air and natural sunlight. For more information about this amazing place, check out its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/apoultryplace/?fref=ts
ADO volunteer lawyers speak about animal law in popular law journal
15 October 2015
In this month's hugely influential Lawyers Weekly journal, ADO volunteer lawyers speak out about animals and the law. They observe that while Australian law is 'geared in favour of exploiting animals', there are still ways to protect the interests of animals using the law.
You can find the article here: http://www.lawyersweekly.com.au/news/17322-egregious-animal-abuse-completely-legal-ado
ADO Executive Director is MC at Live Export Rally in Australia's Capital
18 October 2015
The Nation's Capital hosted a #BanLiveExport rally which called for justice for live export animals transported long distances across Australia and overseas.
The ADO's Executive Director, Tara Ward, was MC at the Capital's rally, joining forces with Animals Australia, the RSPCA and the Animal Justice Party.
ADO Director presents at RSPCA forum
24 September 2015
ADO Director Mike Rosalky delivered an eloquent speech in defence of all animals at the RSPCA ACT Forum '2015-2075: A Vision of Animal Welfare in the ACT'.
Mike argued persuasively for laws that would protect the fundamental interests of all animals, based on their shared capacity to suffer and to feel pain and emotions. As Mike said in his talk: “In their ability to suffer, a kangaroo is a pig is a dog is a human!”
ADO sponsors the Living Green Festival
For a second year in a row the ADO has sponsored (thanks to private funds) the most animal- and environment-friendly event in Canberra's festival calendar.
The Living Green Festival is in its 5th big year, and will be celebrating 'a kinder shade of green' at the Albert Hall on Sunday 4 October 2015, from 10am to 4pm. Entry is free!
More information about the festival can be found on its website at www.lgf.org.au.
We ran for the animals!
6 September 2015
Team ADO participated in this year's Canberra Times Fun Run. Over 30 walkers and joggers, experienced athletes and couch potatoes pounded the pavement as part of this year's Team ADO and were a force for the rights and protection of animals.
A huge thank you to everyone who participated and donated to our fundraiser!
ADO dishes out the gold at this year's Canberra Fun Run
3 September 2015
ADO volunteers will be the official medal distributors at this year's Canberra Times Fun Run. So when the thousands of race participants cross the finishing line, they will receive their medals from an ADO volunteer!
The ADO is pleased to be able to help out at this hugely popular community event. For more, see here.
NSW report into pet breeding practices handed down
28 August 2015
A parliamentary report into pet breeding practices in NSW was handed down this week. Unfortunately the report does not recommend a ban on selling animals in pet shops. The ADO’s suggestion in favour of a ban and/or of selling only shelter animals is quoted in the report (5.26). The report also recommends that a common database for reports of animal cruelty and outcomes of prosecutions be established by 1 March 2016. The ADO hopes at least that recommendation is adopted.
The ADO’s submission to the inquiry, and the final report, can be found here.
ADO updates kangaroo defenders on changes to law
25 June 2015
This month the ACT Government significantly increased fines for being on a nature reserve during a kangaroo cull, from $100 to $1,500! The changes came into effect when the Nature Conservation Act 2014 and the Magistrates Court (Nature Conservation Infringement Notices) Regulation 2015 commenced on 11 June 2015. The new laws also increase rangers' powers to obtain information from persons they suspect of comitting an offence under the new Act.
On 25 June 2015 the ADO attended a community meeting to update kangaroo defenders about the changes to the law. For more information about the recent changes to the law see our fact sheet here.
ADO visits local animal sanctuary
9 August 2015
ADO volunteers took time out to visit the rescued farm animals at Little Oak Sanctuary near Canberra.
Some of us met bobby calves and pigs and lambs and chickens for the first time!
The ADO helped this wonderful organisation set up as a sanctuary and animal charity. To find out more about how they give rescued and abandoned animals a second chance, check out their website: http://www.littleoaksanctuary.org/
Media on hand after animal law hits the High Court
14 April 2015
Animal law reached the High Court of Australia on 14 April 2015 when the case of Isbester v Knox City Council was heard before the Full Court.
At the heart of the case is the dog Izzy, who was slated for ‘destruction’ by a local council in Victoria after Izzy was involved in a scuffle with other dogs and their keepers. QCs presented classic administrative law arguments about the apprehension of bias by way of conflict of interest in the decision making process that led to the council issuing a destruction order against Izzy. ADO lawyers were on hand to witness this historic case unfold before an at-times packed courtroom. The Court has reserved its judgement. National media waited for Izzy’s keeper outside the court after the hearing.
American animal lawyer Steven Wise shares insights in fascinating Canberra lecture
6 May 2015
On Wednesday 6 May world famous animal lawyer Steven Wise spoke about his ground-breaking work with the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) to a packed audutorium in Canberra as part of the 2015 Voiceless Law Lecture Series. It was an inspirational talk, and gave a unique insight into how the law can be used to protect animals.
A special report by the ADO looks at the methods of Steven Wise and the NhRP and whether their strategic use of litigation to gain rights for animals could be used here in Australia.
ADO calls for law reform at the "Where is the Justice?" rally in Canberra
13 December 2014
The Animal Defenders Office joined other animal advocates to speak at the ‘Where is the Justice?’ rally in Canberra on Saturday 13 December. The rally was about the recent dismissal of the animal cruelty case against the operators of Wally’s Piggery, an intensive pig farm just outside Canberra.
The ADO spoke about the failure of our legal system to protect factory farmed animals like Wally’s pigs.
NSW Companion Animal Lawyer talks to ADO lawyers and volunteers in Canberra
19 March 2015
Anne Greenaway, Principal Lawyer at Lawyers for Companion Animals (NSW), joined the ADO to talk about her experience in setting up and running Australia’s only private law firm dedicated exclusively to the practice of animal law for companion animals.
Anne spoke about her fight as a lawyer ‘for the underdogs, the victims of injustice, the cats and dogs failed by humans and the weak and/or nonexistent regulatory system (that fails to protect so many animals).’
Leading animal lawyer kicks off ADO's 'Summer Seminar Series'
11 December 2014
The ADO launched its summer seminar series of 'Conversations with Animal Lawyers' with a fascinating presentation by Dr Malcolm Caulfield. Dr Caulfield enthralled the audience with his insights into what it is like to be a practising animal lawyer in Australia. His presentation focussed on his experiences in bringing Australia's most high profile challenge to our live export laws in the Animals’ Angels case (Animals’ Angels e.V. v Secretary, Department of Agriculture  FCA 398). Afterwards Dr Caulfield chatted with ADO animal lawyers about the highs and lows of practising animal law in Australia.
The Animals' Angels case can be found here: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FCA/2014/398.html
ADO: 'outstanding grant achievement' at 2014 Voiceless Awards
10 December 2014
The ADO was extremely honoured to be asked to present at this year's Voiceless Awards in its Outstanding Grants Achievements segment.
The segment features grant winners from the previous year. The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses and the ADO were this year's presenters.
ADO attends Sydney's Cruelty Free Festival
26 October 2014
The Animal Defenders Office was excited to travel up to Sydney to take part in the ADO's first Cruelty Free Festival!
The new indoor venue was fantastic. Being part of the old Eveleigh railway workshops it was full of character. And of course the huge range of stalls (and food!) all focussed on being kind to animals was truly awe inspiring.
It was a privilege to meet all the festival goers who stopped at the ADO stall to find out more about us, sign a petition, or take a fact sheet. We were also extremely grateful to our lovely local volunteers for their great help throughout the day!
Australia's animal protection community reeling over dismissal of Wally's Piggery case
20 November 2014
The animal protection community in Australia was dumbfounded this week when 53 charges of serious animal cruelty laid against operators of Wally's Piggery just outside Canberra were dropped this week by RSPCA NSW.
It is not clear why the animal welfare charity dropped the case which made international headlines in 2012.
ADO sponsors local festival all about animals
6 October 2014
The Animal Defenders Office was very proud to sponsor the Living Green Festival (LGF) for the first time in 2014. The ADO commissioned a brand new logo from local artist Patrick Duthie.
Another connection with the Festival was that for the first time it featured a dog café! The ADO was pleased to be able to provide the Festival organisers with information about the legal issues associated with dogs and cafés in the ACT. After getting the thumbs (or paws) up from the ADO, the Festival hosted a dog café offering cruelty-free treats for humans and dogs alike! Check out more information about Carson’s dog café here: http://www.lgf.org.au/#!dog-cafe/c1it2.
Team ADO takes part in the 2014 Canberra Fun Run
7 September 2014
14 keen animal lawyers and advocates took part in this year's Canberra Fun Run.
On a glorious Canberra spring day, ADO runners and walkers participated in the 14km, 10km and 5km courses, with everyone making it to the finishing line in good time!
The Team ADO singlets raised interest on the day, and of course valuable funds were raised for the ADO as part of the event. Thank you to everyone who participated on the day, and who contributed to the fundraiser!! Your support is very much appreciated!
The ADO gets active to promote animals and the law
14 August 2014
The ADO has registered for the upcoming Canberra Fun Run on Sunday 7 September. A team of walkers and runners will be promoting the ADO, and raising much needed funds for the Office.
Here the ADO's co-founders Shelley and Tara are still standing after a 5km training run, with Lake Burley Griffin glistening in the background and the High Court in the distance.
You can check out the Fun Run fundraiser here: http://www.gofundme.com/d0fx0w
ADO lawyers obtain a stay on kangaroo cull in ACT
20 May 2014
Today lawyers from the Animal Defenders Office successfully argued to suspend the ACT kangaroo cull until a further hearing on the matter. The ACT Government tried to argue it would be disadvantaged by the stay, but the ADO lawyers won the day!
We'll be back in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal from 3-7 June, with the esteemed Richard Arthur (Barrister) appearing for the Applicant, Animal Liberation ACT.
Budding animal lawyers attend first ADO volunteer workshop
9 August 2014
Huge thanks to the many keen individuals who attended our inaugural volunteer workshop, and our two key clients who came to talk about their cases. Attendees learnt a bit more about the ADO, what the main areas of law are that we focus on, and the type of cases we've handled in our short history. Volunteers also heard about the many cases and projects that we have on hand at the moment, and that we need their help with! Vegan refreshments were provided during the session.
ADO lawyers visit local wildlife sanctuary to meet the residents
9 June 2014
Fresh from defending kangaroos in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal, the ADO team visited Possumwood Sanctuary just outside Canberra to meet some of the locals!
For more photos of the 'excursion', see our Facebook page here.
First law graduate undertakes legal practice experience with the ADO
15 April 2014
Today the Animal Defenders Office welcomed Dami as our first law graduate to undertake legal practice experience with the Office. Legal practice experience is a mandatory component of the ANU's Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice. The ADO is delighted to be able to offer law graduates the opportunity to gain ‘hands on’ legal practice experience in a community law practice specialising in animal law!
ADO gets into the 2014 summer festival season
The Animal Defenders Office has just completed the summer festival circuit here in the ACT and interstate!
The ADO team went from the We Love Life festival in Melbourne, to Australia’s National Multicultural Festival and the ANU’s O-Week market day here in the ACT!
ADO founders receive 2013 Voiceless grant in Sydney
Sydney, 5 December 2013
The grant was presented to the founders of the Animal Defenders Office at a prestigious ceremony held at the Blue Hotel at the Woolloomooloo Wharf in Sydney.
The Animal Defenders Office is extremely grateful to Voiceless for this grant.
The Animal Defenders Office goes public!
Albert Hall, 13 October 2013
The Animal Defenders Office held its first community stall at Canberra's annual vegan festival known as the Living Green Festival. We met lots of people interested in using the law to defend animals and keen to find out more.