Found Out - Victorian RSPCA Independent Review Released

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The Victorian RSPCA Independent Review has reported. 

In August Sporting Shooter run the article Hunters Set Their Sights on RSPCA. Victorian Hunters accused the RSPCA of becoming “radicalised” and moving away from its traditional roots.

The joint hunting associations’ submission primarily expressed concern at the RSPCA’s perceived conflict of interest between public activism for animal rights and enforcing laws of animal cruelty.

The Independent review has highlighted and supported several of these concerns throughout the document. Addressing them within their recommendations and findings.

Page 30

“Elected Members of the Parliament of Victoria expressed concern at the RSPCA’s conflict of interest in being both an agent of government as an authorised law enforcer and an activist against lawful behaviour supported by government (such as hunting and jumps racing). Uncertainty was expressed at the ability of the RSPCA to regain the trust of government and to ensure that sufficient “Chinese walls” exist between enforcement and advocacy roles within the organisation.”

Page 39

“Some departments regret that the RSPCA is not more active in using their superior expertise in understanding, interpreting, detecting and proving cases of animal cruelty. This would enable them to promote and ensure improved animal welfare outcomes in existing legal activities such as hunting, rather than simply actively campaigning against them.”

Page 59

 “At the early stages of this Review, during a workshop with Inspectorate staff they raised concerns about the activist role undertaken by the RSPCA in recent years against lawful activity authorised by legislation that the Inspectors were required to enforce. This situation was described by the Inspectors as a conflict of interest that had caused reputational damage to the RSPCA amongst government agencies and other organisations holding various hunting, sporting and primary production responsibilities”.

“The consequences of this conflict of interest arising from RSPCA Victoria’s direct involvement in activism against lawful activities has, on the evidence considered by the Review, been harmful to the organisation, both in reputational and operational terms”.

“The Review considers that this difficulty can be largely overcome by RSPCA Victoria withdrawing from activism against lawful activity in this State and leaving this activism to those organisations, such as Animals Australia, who are well resourced and have demonstrated their effectiveness in activism against animal cruelty.”

The Independent Review made 22 recommendations with 16 and 21 noteworthy for the hunters.

Recommendation 16

That the RSPCA:

c. develop and implement a communications strategy to better inform and educate the community that the future role of the Inspectorate is to be confined to prevention of cruelty to animals and that the Inspectorate will no longer respond to Domestic Animals Act 1994 reports.

Recommendation 21

That RSPCA Victoria, while continuing its legitimate advocacy role, discontinue its public activist campaigning against the existing laws of this State.

It is clear the Victorian RSPCA viewed themselves as a law unto themselves. This is addressed throughout the Independent Review. Now the Parliamentary review can commence.

The full Independent Review of the RSPCA Victoria Inspectorate.

The ABC reported - RSPCA apologises for past 'emotional' activism

Dr Walker said the organisation would continue its advocacy against animal cruelty but would no longer engage in public campaigns over existing laws, such as duck hunting and jumps racing.

She the "tone and emotion" of the campaigns had made the work of inspectors more difficult.

"We certainly understand that over the past few years there have been issues which we have campaigned on, and their tone and the way we have done that definitely impacted on trust with our stakeholders and we apologise for that," she said.

"It's very challenging for our inspectors to be out there enforcing the law … it puts them in an untenable position to have to do that whilst the organisation that employs them has in the past openly and very emotionally and stridently advocated against the existing laws.

"So it certainly means we'll be continuing to advocate very strongly for improvements in animal welfare, it's really about the tone and how we do it."

 

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