The Animal Care and Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2012 became effective on 21 September 2012.

The new Act, together with amendments to the Aboriginal Land Act 1991, removed the previous exemption from animal welfare obligations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, in the exercising of traditional and customary hunting rights. When killing animals Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are now required to perform the kill in a way that causes reasonable pain only.

Indigenous hunting rights under Native Title is affected to the extent that the treatment of animals must cause as little pain as is reasonable.

This means hunters are prohibited to:

  • Injure an animal to keep it or to stop it from escaping
  • Injure an animal to catch another animal
  • Take flesh for consumption before the animal is dead i.e. prohibited from butchering the animal while it is alive
  • Allow the death of an animal from dehydration or starvation

Although the new laws under the Act were initated in September 2012, a 12- month grace period has been granted to to enable communication about the laws for the development of understanding about the requirments under the Act. The grace period closes September 2013. Serious alleged offences will be prosecuted during the grace period.

In passing the Act, members of parliment recognisedand the importance of turtles and dugongs to Aboriginal  Torres Strait Islander people, and the efforts of many to develop local management plans for the cessation of hunting or the modification of existing practices to address sustainability issues.

The Government encourages traditional hunters and the wider Indigenous community to consider and document hunting methods used for the capture of turtles and dugongs and to seek agreement on appropriate and practical approaches to animal welfare issues.  It acknowledges that guidance on the intrepretation of causing as little pain as is reasonable, may be required. Advice is available from Queensland Government officials, scientists and animal welfare groups like the RSPCA, upon request.

Officers of the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs (DATSIMA), Queensland Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries (DAFF) and the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP), are to provide information for Indigenous leaders and representative bodies as guidelines.

A proposal to amend the Aboriginal Land Act 1991, that will ban the carriage of meat from traditional hunting from Deed of Grant in Trust and/or Aboriginal Shire lease hold communities was rejected by the Queensland parliment. However the Queensland Government has plans to develop agreements with people living in communities, that will pertain to the transport and consumption of hunting products taken by traditional means.

By Queensland Government

Fact sheets prepared by the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) can be accessed at 7 the DAFF website www.daff.qld.gov.au (follow links to Biosecurity/Welfare and Ethics/Animal Welfare/Queensland’s Animal Welfare Law/ Amendments to the Animal Care and Protection Act 2012).

Legislation Update If you require further information or would like to discuss implementation issues, please contact: The Director, Regional Operations Department of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander & Multicultural Affairs Level 2, William McCormack Place, 5B Sheridan Street, PO Box 5365, Cairns, Queensland 4870 or phone: 07 4047 5794