Advancing Animal Welfare Networks: Australia and Abroad

I was privileged to recently attend the 7th Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS) national workshop. The theme was "Achievements for animal Welfare: The Current State of the Nation and our Bold Next Step".

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry the Hon Joel Fitzgibbon http://www.maff.gov.au/Pages/Home.aspx addressed this workshop and acknowledged his appreciation for the time and contribution of the 120 delegates at the workshop. I was also able to participate in the Animals in Research and Teaching working group meetings.

A powerful and insightful message was delivered by Barry Anderson, the CEO of Tanner James who reported on the AAWS monitoring and evaluation framework. He indicated that the AAWS represented the largest social change in Australian history. Anderson spoke to the core values of society and the importance of communities ‘owning’ animal welfare. Another take-home message from this presentation was that "all benefits must ultimately focus upon improving the 'lived experience' of the animal"—a very important focus indeed.

Lab Animal science is also rapidly developing a strong international network. In June I attended and presented a poster (available for PDF download) at the 12th FELASA SECAL Congress http://www.felasa2013.eu/ in Barcelona. This European Lab Animal Science conference theme was Animal Research: Better Science from Fewer Animals.

Major presentation sections included FELASA education and training in the care and use of animals in research and competency assessment. Severity assessment and endpoint in disease models were very interesting, with a retrospective assessment being introduced into this framework. The next step is to incorporate these new learnings from the FELASA Congress into areas of animal care and use across the University of Melbourne.

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Andrea Britton