Voluntary codes of practice for animal welfare

Voluntary codes of practice are rules that people may follow—they are not compulsory under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (the Act).

They contain guidelines and information on the minimum acceptable animal welfare outcomes for a particular type of animal or animal use.

Voluntary codes of practice are contained in schedule 9 of the Animal Care and Protection Regulation 2023.

Failing to follow voluntary codes

Although compliance with voluntary animal welfare codes is not compulsory under the Act, people in charge of animals should use them as a reference to help them meet their duty of care obligation under the Act.

Where no mandatory code exists, animal welfare inspectors refer to voluntary animal welfare codes when assessing whether people are meeting their duty of care.

Non-compliance with a voluntary code is not an offence under the Act. However, non-compliance is admissible in evidence in a court case for an offence, such as breach of duty of care.

Compliance with a voluntary animal welfare code requirement does not automatically protect someone against prosecution for an offence under the Act. For example, an operator may meet the guidelines relating to a husbandry procedure but still breach their duty of care if the person was not competent to perform the procedure.