Page 3791 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 28 October 2015

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(e) the RSPCA is enthusiastic to engage in cross agency communication with ACT Housing, mental health teams and the Australian Federal Police to drive down the incidence of animal neglect and cruelty; and

(2) calls on the ACT Government to:

(a) develop a long-term strategy for the delivery of animal welfare services in the ACT, including preventative investment and educational approaches. The strategy should be tabled in the Legislative Assembly by the last sitting day of March 2016; and

(b) legislate for improved animal welfare in consultation with key stakeholders. These matters should be progressed by the last sitting day in June 2016.

I am pleased to rise today to speak about animal welfare in the ACT and also the role played by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the RSPCA, in the context of our legal framework. Animal welfare is, of course, broader than the maintenance and care for companion animals, but in Canberra’s largely urban environment pets are generally what we think of when we think of animal welfare in the ACT. At 63 per cent, Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. Dogs and cats are the most common pets with 39 per cent of households owning a dog and 29 per cent of households owning a cat. For the most part, Canberrans love their animals and treat them as part of the family. The great majority of us are distressed to hear reports of animal mistreatment and are very supportive of the role that organisations like the RSPCA play in our community.

The RSPCA was established to promote animal welfare. It is an organisation created by the community and driven by strong community support. The RSPCA’s history in Australia dates back to 1871 when a public meeting to discuss the ill treatment of horses in Victoria led to the formation of Australia’s first Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Other states followed, with the RSPCA ACT formed in 1955. In 1923 the societies were given the royal warrant, becoming known as the Royal Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

In May 1980 the eight state and territory RSPCA societies agreed unanimously to form a properly constituted national organisation. Since its beginnings, the RSPCA has fought relentlessly against animal cruelty. It has witnessed dramatic and positive change in the way that animals are treated within our society and has persistently lobbied for and achieved improvements in legislation governing animal welfare. The RSPCA is now one of the most recognised and most respected non-government organisations in Australia.

I recently visited the RSPCA at their base in the Molonglo valley to drop off a cheque for nearly $200 raised by people here in the Assembly for cupcake day for the RSPCA. It was great to see the work they are doing and to check on Elsa, the kitten that was badly burned when she was abandoned at the RSPCA in August. I was able to find out more about the kinds of pressures on their resources that they deal with every day.

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