Australia’s animal welfare system not fit for purpose: national survey reveals

Australian Alliance for Animals

The Australian Alliance for Animals is today releasing the results of a ground-breaking new study exploring community expectations about how the nation’s animal welfare policies are set and governed.

The nationally representative survey of over a thousand Australians was carried out by leading behaviour change research institute BehaviourWorks Australia at Monash University, and reveals that current government animal welfare policy processes are at odds with the public’s expectations on a range of key measures.

Alliance for Animals’ Policy Director Dr Jed Goodfellow said the survey findings should be a wakeup call for Australian governments and prompt a rethink of current arrangements.

“It’s clear from these data that Australians recognise animals as sentience beings, place high regard on their welfare, and value independent and impartial oversight of animal welfare policymaking processes,” Dr Goodfellow said.

Over 80% of Australians believe the final say on animal welfare policy decisions should be made by an independent and impartial authority, with more than two-thirds believing this should be an independent animal welfare agency, and only 22% supporting the current practice of allocating responsibility to departments of agriculture.

Australians place the greatest trust in animal welfare groups, animal welfare scientists and veterinary practitioners, and expect these groups to be given the most say in policy decisions that affect animals (72% and 75%, respectively), while industries and businesses that use animals (19%), political parties (10%) and retailers (6%) were trusted the least.

When it comes to policy trade-offs, 80% of Australians believe that impacts on animals should be the most important factor in animal welfare decision-making, while only 12% believe it should be the impact on industries and businesses.

“These results stand in stark contrast to current practice, where animal welfare policy decisions are overseen by departments and ministers for agriculture and routinely place the economic interests of industries over animal welfare and community concerns,” Dr Goodfellow said.

“The data reveal a democratic deficiency at the heart of our animal welfare system,

“It’s time we made the system more democratic for people and fairer for animals.”

The Australian Alliance for Animals’ #FairGoForAnimals reform platform proposes a new framework for creating a modern and contemporary animal welfare governance system that better fulfils the community’s expectations.


  • The online Qualtrics survey of 1029 Australian adults, representative of the broader Australian population by age, gender, state or territory, and location (metro vs. regional), was conducted in February-March 2023.

  • The survey will be launched via an online event on Thursday 27 July 2023 at 12.30 pm. Registrations here.

  • The launch will include the Alliance’s animal welfare policy barometer, which assesses Australia’s performance in meeting the expectations of the community revealed in the survey.


/Public Release.