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 on (03) 9419 3744 to make an appointment at the night advice service, which operates on Wednesday evenings.

All appointments are conducted at Fitzroy Legal Service at 126 Moor St, Fitzroy, Victoria.

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

Advice cannot be provided by email or phone.

MEET OUR MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

Nichola Donovan, President

Nichola Donovan BA, LLB, LLM 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.

Lauren Hadolt, Vice-President/Communications Officer

Lauren is a proud Tasmanian who completed her Bachelor of Laws at the University of Tasmania in 2010. She is a commercial litigation lawyer and frequently volunteers at the Fitzroy Legal Service’s Night Service. Lauren’s love of animals and concern for their welfare started early, with a number of influential companion animals.

Michael Dunstan, Secretary

After completing his undergraduate studies at Monash University and working in Belgium as a research assistant, Michael worked for two years at a large commercial law firm in Melbourne, mainly in general commercial dispute resolution. For the past four years Michael has worked in public policy in a diverse range of areas dealing with justice and environmental issues. Michael, his wife and their son live in the foothills of the Dandenongs with two rescued rabbits and two rescued ducks. All three humans in the family are vegans and passionate about animal rights and welfare issues.

Sandy Kaur, Treasurer

Sandy is a Monash University and Leo Cussen graduate, and works at a Victoria Community Legal Centre practising in mainly civil and family law. Originally from Brunei, where a massive stray animal population exists, Sandy found herself feeding homeless dogs and cats at a young age. She then worked with an organisation now known as Care & Action of Strays (CAS) in its start up stages to raise awareness & funds for treatment and feeding of strays. Sandy is often called the “crazy cat lady”, but is passionate about the welfare of all animals in general. Her biggest ‘pet peeve’ is the skinning of living animals in the fur trade industry.

Jessica Phillips, Volunteer Coordinator

Jessica completed her Bachelor of Laws at Deakin University and was admitted as a lawyer in 2014. She has always held a passion for animal welfare and social justice which motivated her involvement with LFA. She previously worked at the Financial Ombudsman Service monitoring compliance in the financial services industry. She has recently relocated to Canberra to commence a new role with the Australian Public Service. Jessica advocates a vegan lifestyle and strives to build awareness and empathy for the rights of our animal friends.

Moira Rayner

Moira Rayner is an advocate of rights for the powerless, whether human or other animals, and a former Law Reform Commissioner.

Katie Ho

Katie completed her Bachelor of Laws in Sydney and worked as a solicitor at Legal Aid NSW prior to moving to Melbourne in 2012. In Melbourne she has been working at a community legal centre practicing in civil law. Before becoming a lawyer, Katie completed a Bachelor of Science, which opened her eyes to the extent of environmental damage caused by humans. Additionally, having to use animals in laboratory experiments solidified her passion for giving a voice to animals and the environment. Katie volunteers at the Animal Law Clinic as a supervising lawyer, and also volunteers at Fitzroy Legal Service’s night service where possible.

Rebecca McMahon

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 focussed 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.

Horse Racing

The cruelty of horseracing in Australia is usually overlooked due to its social and historical significance.

Racing places enormous pressure on the immature skeletal systems of young horses and regularly leads to lung-bleeding, while a high incidence of stomach ulcers occurs from the high-concentrate grain diets.

Slower or injured horses are routinely discarded by the industry. An estimated 20,000 horses end up at Australian slaughterhouses or ‘knackeries’ each year, with thousands enduring hellish journeys over many days to reach the abattoirs. Much of the horse meat is then shipped to Asia and Europe.


THE LAW

More Issues