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. From 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).

MEET OUR MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

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.

Henry Elias, Secretary

Andelka Obradovic, Treasurer

Andelka holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy). Andelka worked as an occupational therapist for many years prior to studying law and making the career change in 2017. She now works in the community legal sector. Andelka has a longstanding strong interest in human and animal rights and intends to use her law degree to assist vulnerable people and animals and those that advocate for their rights.

Sarah Sajinovic, Communications Officer

Sarah Sajinovic is a compassionate lawyer and holds a Bachelor of Arts with majors in International Studies and Human Rights Theory and a Master of Laws (Juris Doctor). Sarah’s day-to-day practise is spent protecting and enforcing her client’s valuable intellectual property rights. In her role with LFA, 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. 

Osk Gunnarsdottir, General Member

Whilst not working directly in law day to day, she is the manager of a large dental day procedure centre. Osk is a passionate animal lover/advocate. Vegan for 6 years, including her family (husband and two young daughters) and the family dog also thriving on a plant based diet! Having complete her law degree and admitted to legal practice, Osk utilises her skills, experience and legal knowledge to support the great work of the LFA.

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.

Paula Carlesso, General Member

Paula holds a Bachelor of Laws with Honours and was recently admitted to practice as an Australian legal Practitioner in February 2023. Paula also holds a Diploma of Financial Services and is currently working at a boutique law firm specialising in commercial and property law. Paula is passionate about seeking justice for all animals and hopes to one day formally advocate on their behalf.  

Nen Pho, General Member

Nen holds a Juris Doctor and was admitted to practice as an Australian Legal Practitioner in 2022. She currently practises as a generalist lawyer. Nen is passionate about advocating for justice and better lives for all animals. During her childhood, Nen brought home so many stray animals that her parents expressed concern about the shortage of indoor space. Nen suggested relocating some of her siblings to make room for the kittens, puppies and chickens!

Bethany Wilkinson, General Member

Bethany holds a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of International Studies, majoring in International Politics. In 2023, she obtained admission as a lawyer and currently serves as graduate legal counsel in the public sector. Bethany has a longstanding affiliation with Lawyers for Animals, having been a student member for an extended period. During her university years, she actively engaged in animal law moots. Her dedication to advocating for animal rights and welfare dates back to her childhood, and she aspires to leverage her legal expertise to contribute to positive change in this domain.

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).”


THE LAW

More Issues