View RSPCA NSW’s policies regarding animal welfare and legislative issues.

Who we are


As well as preventing cruelty to animals by enforcing existing legislation, the RSPCA also works to reform legislation and improve animal welfare.

Animal welfare legislation is developed and administered at the state and territory level. In recent times, legislation has evolved to broaden its scope from simply prohibiting acts of cruelty to animals, to actively promoting the welfare of animals.

This is reflected in the concept of ‘duty of care’. If you are in charge of an animal, you have a duty of care to that animal. This is based on the internationally recognised ‘Five Freedoms’ of animal welfare:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst: by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.
  2. Freedom from discomfort: by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease: by prevention through rapid diagnosis and treatment.
  4. Freedom to express normal behaviour: by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
  5. Freedom from fear and distress: by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

Legislation FAQs

There are no national laws applying to animal welfare, but all states and territories regulate animal welfare in their jurisdiction. NSW legislation governing animal welfare is the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979.

Most farm animal welfare issues are the responsibility of state and territory governments. If you are concerned about animal welfare issues, you can write to the Federal Minister for Agriculture responsible for farm animal welfare.

Federal Minister for Agriculture
The Hon David Littleproud MP
Minister for Agriculture

PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

P: (02) 6277 7530