EQUINE WELFARE / National / 10 Nov, 2015

The ATA has, for a considerable period of time, expressed its concerns with the continuing damage being inflicted on the racing industry and its participants, through failure of the industry to develop a comprehensive strategy to address equine welfare.

Many reading this communication will be aware of the recent national media campaign run by animal welfare activist groups over the Spring carnival in Victoria, painting a deliberate negative picture of the industry. As a direct result of this campaign, it is pleasing to see what we hope is the first of many positive actions from an industry peak body, with Racing Victoria engaging a Communications Consultancy to prepare an Equine Welfare Strategy, which will be included within the RV Strategy Plan for 2016.

The ATA has had an initial meeting with the Consultancy, and provided our preliminary thoughts on the subject. This also included a strong recommendation that RV develop the strategy with broad input - our belief is that an industry response developed from discussions with all stakeholder groups and clubs, setting out factually the historical contributions, current views and forward commitments of all these groups and their participants as it relates to equine welfare, is a powerful message.

It was also the firm view of the ATA that such a strategy and any resulting campaigns must not be undertaken in isolation. To protect the racing industry and its participants in the longer term, and to engender ongoing public confidence, an Equine Welfare Strategy must occupy a permanent place in future RV Strategic Plans. We applaud Racing Victoria for their initiative here, and hope their actions set the standard for other PRA’s around Australia to follow.

We are all rightly proud of the industry we work for and in, and whilst criticism will come from many corners and in many forms, the key is not to ignore it, but to be positive in our resolve, proactive with our effort and constructive in any public response.

I will update members again as matters develop on this subject.

Chief Executive