About Us

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”
Mahatma Gandhi, Statesperson and Philosopher

Classed as property, animals have no legal voice: they need lawyers to advocate for them. Lawyers for Animals is a volunteer-based organisation dedicated to improving the welfare of animals through education and law.

Despite popular perception, Australian law offers very little protection for animals. In particular, the vast majority of animals in human care in this country – some 500 million production animals – are excluded from the protection of our existing animal welfare legislation. Instead, their treatment is governed by industry ‘codes of practice’. Because these codes are inadequate and ill-enforced, millions of farm animals daily endure housing conditions and acts of cruelty that are illegal for a cat or dog.

Lawyers for Animals believes this is an injustice that should invoke compassion and action – not apathy. Our objectives are to alleviate the suffering of animals by:

  • engaging with those who create or administer laws in Australia to strengthen legal protection for animals;
  • promoting better animal welfare practices amongst animal-related industries in Australia;
  • developing awareness of animal suffering among the legal profession and wider Australian public, and offering practical ways to reduce it; and
  • encouraging the development of animal law subjects within Australian universities.

Lawyers for Animals’ activities include:

  • communicating with politicians and making submissions on Acts, Regulations, Codes of Practice and other laws and policies affecting animals;
  • assisting other animal welfare groups with their work;
  • developing educational materials;
  • publishing articles;
  • promoting awareness of animal suffering through public-speaking and other events (e.g. during Victorian Law Week); and
  • providing services via our Animal Law Clinic (ALC).

Membership of Lawyers for Animals and participation in our volunteer program is open to all who care about the welfare of animals – not just lawyers. Please see how to support us.

Animal Law Clinic

If you require legal advice, we refer you to the Animal Law Clinic (ALC). The ALC is a joint initiative of Lawyers for Animals and Fitzroy Legal Service. The ALC provides free legal advice on matters relating to animals, including restricted dog breed laws, animal welfare, and animal rights.

If you have a legal issue, please contact Fitzroy Legal Service using the enquiry form on the FLS website to make an appointment at the ALC, which operates on Wednesday evenings.

All appointments are conducted at Fitzroy Legal Service at 126 Moor St, Fitzroy, Victoria. In 2021, the ALC will resume with telephone appointments, which is all explained on our Clinic page.

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide legal advice outside of the Animal Law Clinic.

Advice cannot be provided by email or telephone (outside of telephone appointments during ALC hours).


Nichola Donovan, President

Nichola Donovan, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Laws, Master of Laws, is an animal (including human) rights lawyer. In 2007 she was employed by LFA as its first Legal Projects Officer. She currently practises animal and refugee law in a voluntary capacity. Nichola is a committed anti-speciesist and enjoys a strong affinity with animals which inspires her to seek justice for them.

Rebecca McMahon, Vice-President &Volunteer Coordinator 

Rebecca holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Business, and is currently completing a Master of Public and International Law at Melbourne University. Rebecca spent 10 years working in a commercial law firm and was heavily involved in the firm’s pro bono programs, supporting individuals who had fallen on hard times as well as a range of NGOs. She now works in the community legal sector, and is currently leading a specialist legal service that is focused on supporting charities and community groups across Australia to understand and comply with the law and best practice. Rebecca has a strong interest in human and animal rights, supporting a number of charities and community legal centres in a voluntary capacity, and following a vegan lifestyle.

Cate Taylor, Communications Officer

Cate is a practising lawyer and holds a Bachelor of Arts , Bachelor of Laws and a Master of Laws (Human Rights Law).  In her masters studies, she included a subject in Animal Law.  Cate’s legal career has been in criminal law both in the community legal sector and in criminal prosecutions.  More recently she has worked as an in-house government lawyer.  A life long animal lover, Cate came to animal advocacy after adopting a rescue greyhound and her animal advocacy interests are in animals used in sport and entertainment and ag-gag.  Cate confidently predicts she will do cartwheels when greyhound racing is  finally shut down.

Henry Elias, Secretary

Shannen De La Motte , Treasurer

Shannen is a junior in-house legal counsel and company secretary.  She has been involved with LFA since her time studying for her law degree and is passionate about advocating for the rights of animals.

Moira Rayner, General Member

Moira Rayner is is a sole legal practitioner based in the Melbourne CBD.  She is an accredited mediator, investigator and trains firefighters.  In terms of LFA, she is a supervising lawyer at LFA’s Animal Law Clinic. Moira is a former Commissioner for Human Rights and Equal Opportunity, having served in that capacity in Victoria and Western Australia and a former federal Hearings Commissioner.  She is an enthusiastic community foster group supporter.

Michael Dunstan, General Member

After working as a solicitor in commercial law, Michael has worked in public policy for nearly 10 years in a diverse range of areas dealing with justice, environmental and energy issues.  Michael, his wife and their three children live in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges with two rescued rabbits and four rescued ducks.  All three humans in the family are vegans and passionate about animal rights and welfare issues.  

Kirsti Weisz, General Member

Kirsti competed her Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts (Journalism) at Monash University and words as a lawyer and community engagement coordinator at Victoria Legal Aid.  Born in South Africa, she has been conscious of animal welfare from a young age (which was further enhanced by her beloved companion animals at home).  Observing the animals in their natural environments inspired her to study animal law and launched her passion for protecting the voiceless, wonderful creatures on this planet.

Elizabeth Frampton, General Member

Elizabeth is a community lawyer at a community legal service in the south east of Melbourne, where she practises as a generalist lawyer across a variety of outreach locations.  Elizabeth has worked predominantly in pro bono law since becoming qualified in 2015.  She is passionate about animal welfare and has been working with LFA since 2018. 

Sarah Sajinovic, General Member

Sarah is a compassionate lawyer with a strong commitment to animal and human rights. Having completed a Bachelor of Arts with specialisations in International Studies and Human Rights Theory, together with a Master of Laws (Juris Doctor), Sarah aims to use the law as a tool to advocate and see changes implemented which benefit and protect animals from so much unwarranted exploitation. 

Gunnarsdottir, General Member

Eshali Samarasinghe, General Member


Kangaroo Culling

Around 30 million Australian kangaroos have been killed over the last decade, and at least three million young left orphaned.

Joeys remain dependent on their mothers for survival for between 18 months and about 3 years. If orphaned joeys are not killed, they die of starvation, exposure, dehydration or predation.

Under the applicable Code of Practice, small, furred pouch young (that are easily held with little struggle) must be euthanased by a forceful blow which destroys the functional capacity of the brain. According to the new Draft Code of Practice, this “may be achieved by forcefully swinging the head of the young against a solid metal object (e.g. tow bar of a vehicle).”


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