MP Response to new report: Up to 3 in 5 domestic violence victims report animal abuse

MEDIA STATEMENT: 27 AUGUST 2020

 

Animal Justice Party MLC Emma Hurst is calling for urgent Government action following a report released by Women’s Safety NSW today, revealing up to three in five victims of domestic and family violence report animal abuse after a domestic violence incident.

Please see quotes below from Emma Hurst MLC:

“This report clearly highlights that urgent legislative reform is needed to protect animal and human victims of domestic violence.

“Up to three in five victims report animal abuse also occurred as part of an act of domestic violence. This isis upsetting but not surprising, especially given the plethora of research confirming a link between domes- tic violence and animal abuse. It’s time to take animal cruelty seriously.

“In domestic and family violence situations, abusers often manipulate and control others through threatened or actual violence against beloved companion animals. This report makes this link horrifyingly clear, with threats to harm animals reported by 94 percent of specialists as the most common form of abuse.

“This latest data is higher than figures seen in previous Australian studies suggesting there is still a perva- sive nature of violence in Australia. It is clear that not enough is being done to recognise and address the link between domestic violence and animal abuse.

“Violence does not discriminate. If we fail to take seriously violent acts towards animals, we will never over- come violence in other areas of our society.

“The community knows our laws are failing. 92 percent of respondents reported believing that agencies in- cluding the Police and RSPCA do not have the appropriate powers to adequately deal with animal abuse in the context of domestic and family violence.

“I will continue to work on behalf of survivors and domestic violence specialists, who are calling for legisla- tive changes allowing victims to take custody of their companion animals, include animals on ADVOs, and laws that recognise the link between animal and human violence.

“We urgently need more Government funding so that emergency accommodation can also house compan- ion animals, tougher penalties to deter animal abuse, and a revision of our tenancy laws to ensure afford- able and secure rental accommodation is accessible for families to stay together with animals long-term.

“The Animal Justice Party is working towards these reforms that will protect both human and non-human victims of violence.

 

Key Data:

• Up to three in five victims of domestic and family violence report animal abuse after a domestic violence police incident.

  • Threats to harm animals by those committing domestic violence was reported by 94% of specialists as the most common form of abuse.

  • 87.5%of respondents believed the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act (NSW) should be amended to more explicitly acknowledge harm to animals as grounds for seeking an Apprehended Do- mestic Violence Order (ADVO).

  • 94% of respondents agreed the mandatory order on ADVOs should also include animals who are con- nected with the person so that they are automatically protected.

  • 92% of respondents believed enforcing and investigating agencies, including Police and the RSPCA do not have the appropriate scope of power when dealing with animal abuse to be able to account for do- mestic and family violence contexts.

 

WOMEN’S SAFETY NSW REPORT AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

MEDIA CONTACT: Rosina Rayns, 0401 991 792

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Animals in Strata: By-Law Change Last Night

MEDIA STATEMENT: 26 AUGUST 2020

 

Animal Justice Party MLC Emma Hurst has passed a groundbreaking amendment in the NSW Upper House, stopping strata schemes from passing by-laws unreasonably preventing owners and occupiers from having companion animals.

Please see quotes below from the Hon. Emma Hurst MLC:

There are apartment and townhouse complexes in NSW that have by-laws that prevent people from having a companion animal, and there is nothing stopping strata management from retrospectively creating restrictions for residents who already live under a strata scheme. This amendment is changing that.

My amendment will ensure stories like that of Colin and his greyhound Bu - who were living in a Bellevue Hill apartment until a sudden change to the by-laws resulted in Colin being told Bu could no longer live with him - will not occur.

Colin, who is elderly and suffering a range of health issues, was distressed and unsure what to do.  Thankfully he managed to get the support of some lawyers and the community, and after a significant media campaign, the strata scheme agreed to allow Bu to stay. But sadly, Colin’s story is not an isolated incident.

In the past few years, there have been a number of court cases seeking to challenge these by-laws.

Currently, the Strata Schemes Management Act allows owners corporations to pass by-laws which ban animals from being kept in an apartment building, unless the animal is an assistance animal.

Our amendment, which passed in the Upper House last night, provides that a by-law will have no force or effect to the extent it unreasonably prohibits having an animal in a strata complex.

This means that the strata scheme would have a legitimate basis to withhold permission for someone wanting to bring a horse into a one-bedroom apartment, but they couldn’t prevent owner occupiers from rescuing a cat.

It is unacceptable that we would require someone to have to choose between selling an apartment they own, or losing their companion animal – simply because of a by-law.

There are hundreds of thousands of healthy cats and dogs in pounds looking for forever homes- and many loving families who can provide these homes. This change in the legislation will help those families to be able to safely adopt and save a life without risking having to lose their homes.

We are a nation of animal lovers, and our state must become more companion animal friendly- this is the first step.

I am proud to say that the Legislative Council has passed my amendment, protecting the ability of humans and animals to live together securely in apartment complexes regulated by strata by-laws. The amendment will now go to the lower house before becoming law.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Rosina Rayns, 0401 991 792

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MP Response to latest data: DV and Animal Abuse

MEDIA STATEMENT: 22 AUGUST 2020

 

Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst is calling for urgent Government action following findings released by Domestic Violence NSW (DVNSW) yesterday regarding the link between domestic violence and animal abuse.

 

Please see quotes below from Emma Hurst MLC:

Statistics just released by Domestic Violence NSW reveal the extent of the link between domestic violence and animal abuse in our state and highlight the need for urgent legislative reform.

In domestic and family violence situations, abusers often manipulate and control others through threatened or actual violence against beloved companion animals. The latest survey data collected by DVNSW reveals that among people who work in the domestic violence space, more than half have supported victims who disclosed a perpetrator killed an animal or multiple animals.

The data also reveals that support workers report up to 42% of victims delayed seeking refuge for more than a year due to concerns about companion animals and not having the resources available to flee with the animals.

This latest data is higher than figures seen in previous Australian studies suggesting there is still a pervasive nature of violence in Australia, and that not enough is being done to recognise and address the link between domestic violence and animal abuse.

Violence does not discriminate. If we fail to take seriously violent acts towards animals, we will never overcome violence in other areas of our society.

We urgently need more Government funding so that emergency accommodation (such as refuges) can also house companion animals, we need tougher penalties to deter animal abuse, and we need a revision of our tenancy laws to ensure affordable and secure rental accommodation is accessible for families to stay together with animals long-term.

The Animal Justice Party is working towards these reforms that will protect both human and non-human victims of violence.

 

Findings from DVNSW: https://tinyurl.com/y3k6zvdl

MEDIA CONTACT: Rosina Rayns, 0401 991 792

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NSW Parliament Inquiry Could See End To The Use Of Animals In Entertainment

MEDIA RELEASE: 12 AUGUST 2020

NSW PARLIAMENT INQUIRY COULD SEE END TO THE USE OF ANIMALS IN ENTERTAINMENT

 

NSW is lining up to become the first state in Australia to ban the use of exotic animals in circuses, and is set to follow Victoria’s move to ban the use of dolphins in circus-style tricks. The state currently has one known travelling circus with exotic animals and one dolphinarium: Stardust Circus and Dolphin Marine Conservation Park in Coffs Harbour.

A Parliamentary Inquiry into the exhibition of dolphins in dolphinariums and exotic animals in circuses will begin tomorrow, with Animal Justice Party MP the Hon. Emma Hurst MLC serving as Deputy Chair. Ms Hurst says this inquiry will question whether using animals for human entertainment still has a social licence, and highlight the conditions these animals are forced to endure.

“The time of lions, monkeys and dolphins in NSW being held in tiny enclosures and performing humiliating tricks for a dwindling number of spectators is coming to an end,” said Ms Hurst.

“Using animals in circus-style tricks has lost its social licence and it’s easy to see why. A review Commissioned by the Welsh Government concluded that it is impossible for circuses to meet the behavioural and welfare needs of exotic animals. 

“Tiny, unnatural enclosures deny these animals the ability to express their natural behaviours causing the animals’ extreme stress and frustration.

“I for one am embarrassed that Australia is falling behind on the most basic animal protection laws by allowing the archaic and cruel circus industry to continue. There are 45 countries that have introduced bans or restricted the use of animals in circuses - we must be next.

“Thankfully, the last marine park in New South Wales has voluntarily elected to stop their breeding program and is considering retiring the dolphins to a sanctuary. This inquiry will provide the dolphinarium a chance to put that position to the Government and get the funding to make it a reality. 

“With no visitors and tourists to pay the bills during COVID lockdowns, there's been a push for Government hand-outs to keep these businesses open. But the money would be much better spent on retirement plans and humane sanctuaries, rather than just the continued imprisonment of these animals. 

“After so many years of allowing exploitation, it is my hope that the State Government will move their funding priorities to assist both industries to retire the animals.

“Our weak laws have failed these animals long enough. The use of animals in so-called entertainment must be banned in New South Wales,” said Ms Hurst

 

Hearings will be broadcast live to the public on the NSW Parliament website from Thursday August 13.

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSINA RAYNS, 0401 991 792

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Vale Calamity: Another Dolphin Dies In Captivity In NSW

MEDIA RELEASE: 9 JUNE 2020

VALE CALAMITY: ANOTHER DOLPHIN DIES IN CAPTIVITY IN NSW

 

Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Calamity, the oldest dolphin held at Dolphin Marine Conservation Park in New South Wales.

Calamity leaves behind her two children, Bella and Jet. Their father, Bucky, died in captivity less than one year ago.

“Two dolphins have died in captivity in Dolphin Marine Conservation Park in the past twelve months, with just three dolphins remaining at the facility. These are the last three dolphins in captivity in New South Wales,” said Ms Hurst.

“Dolphinariums are an outdated industry which is no longer supported by the community. Australians care deeply about animals and they don’t want to see dolphins forced to perform for human entertainment and live in artificial pools.

“Calamity’s children were born in captivity and, unless the Government takes action, they will die there.

“It's time for a legislated ban on breeding dolphins for entertainment, and a commitment to retire the remaining three dolphins at Dolphin Marine Conservation Park to a sea pen sanctuary.

“It is the least we can do to honour Calamity’s legacy, and give her children a better life.

“No animal should have to spend their life being held captive and forced to perform humiliating tricks for a dwindling number of spectators. It’s time to empty the tanks,” said Ms Hurst.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSINA RAYNS, 0401 991 792

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Concern over lion's fate following Shoalhaven Zoo attack

MEDIA STATEMENT: 30th MAY 2020

CONCERN OVER LIONS’ FATE FOLLOWING SHOALHAVEN ZOO ATTACK

 

Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst has raised concerns over the future of the two lions at Shoalhaven Zoo following an attack on zookeeper Jennifer Brown yesterday. Ms Brown was mauled by two lions while she was cleaning their enclosure, leading to serious bodily injury.

Please see statement below from Emma Hurst MLC:

My heart goes out to Jennifer Brown and her family following this horrific incident, and I wish her a quick and full recovery. It’s after shocking incidents like this that we need to question the continued captivity of wild animals and the risk it poses to human life, and to the mental health and wellbeing of animals forced to live in captivity.

This is not an isolated incident. There are thousands of incidents reported worldwide in which captive animals lash out in anger and frustration after suffering years of depravation and boredom. In 2014, Shoalhaven zookeeper Trent Burton sustained serious injuries to both his hands from a crocodile attack; in 2008 Arna the elephant killed her trainer, Ray Williams, by crushing him before a performance at Stardust circus; in August 2001, lion trainer Geoffrey Lennon, was mauled by three lions during a performance.

The incident at Shoalhaven this week is yet another tragedy involving captive animals and locals are concerned the situation could become more dire, as the fate of the zoo’s two lions remains uncertain.

The Animal Justice Party is calling for the lions to be safely retired to a reputable sanctuary and for an end to all captive breeding of wild animals for so-called entertainment. Wild animals belong in the wild - and this horrific and frightening incident has only reinforced that. 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSINA RAYNS, 0401 991 792

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Canterbury-Bankstown Council next in line to ban fur

MEDIA RELEASE: 27th MAY 2020

CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN COUNCIL NEXT IN LINE TO BAN FUR: ANIMAL JUSTICE PARTY MP SAYS COUNCIL IS LEADING THE WAY IN ANIMAL PROTECTION

 

Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst, who has been working closely with councils in NSW on the issue of fur and the banning of fur sales, has congratulated Canterbury-Bankstown Council on last night’s Notice of Motion, revealing the intention of the Council to move to become ‘fur free’

“This fantastic step by Labor Clr Clare Raffan would see Canterbury-Bankstown become one of the first councils in Australia to go fur free. I am so glad to see the councillors in Canterbury-Bankstown listening to local residents’ concerns about animal cruelty,” said Ms Hurst.

The council is the second in Australia to indicate they will go fur-free, after the City of Sydney made a similar announcement earlier this year.

“The heinous animal abuse within the fur trade is well known. No reputable fashion label still uses fur. Now that we are seeing councils in NSW ban fur, the writing is on the wall: the future of fashion is fur-free,” continued Ms Hurst.

Fur bans overseas in the UK and US raised concerns around recycled fashion and vintage fur coats becoming landfill, if not allowed to be sold at markets and stalls.

“An innovative aspect of the work the Animal Justice Party is doing with councils is to encourage people to donate any vintage fur coats to Snuggle Coats – an organisation turning old fur into pouches for orphaned wildlife. After the bushfires earlier this year, leading to so many orphaned and injured animals, we can’t think of anything more positive than to give these coats back to the animals,” said Ms Hurst.

“Over 50 million animals suffer and die as victims of the international fur trade. The people of Canterbury-Bankstown would be horrified if they saw what goes on behind the scenes in this barbaric industry. Animals in the fur trade are killed by anal electrocution, gassing, breaking their necks, or skinning them alive – these are all inhumane and often ineffective methods designed to avoid damage to their fur.

“I’m confident that other councils will be following Canterbury-Bankstown’s leadership. Just as councils all around Australia progressively banned animal circuses on council land, I think the focus of councils in 2020 will be to ban fur.

“It is great to see Canterbury-Bankstown Council, the largest council in NSW, being leaders on ethical animal policies,” said Ms Hurst.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSINA RAYNS, 0401 991 792

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Decision to allow hunters back into State Forests from Friday slammed by NSW Animal Justice Party MP

MEDIA STATEMENT: 7th MAY 2020

DECISION TO ALLOW HUNTERS BACK INTO STATE FORESTS FROM FRIDAY SLAMMED BY ANIMAL JUSTICE PARTY MP

 

Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst has slammed the NSW Minister for Agriculture’s decision to allow hunters to recommence animal slaughter in State Forests. The Minister announced yesterday that NSW State Forests would not only be open for hunting from Friday, but that hunters will have their licenses extended by an extra four weeks free of charge.

Please see statement below from Emma Hurst MLC:

While millions of Australians remain out of work, and businesses are collapsing and desperate for a reprieve from COVID-19 restrictions, the Agriculture Minister has decided that the priority area for an ease on restrictions is the bloodlust-filled coward’s past time activity of hunting. In light of the current pandemic and ongoing bushfire recovery operations, this barbaric decision is both short-sighted and extremely dangerous.

With strict restrictions still in place to protect our communities from COVID-19, it makes no sense to allow people back into our State Forests to stalk, shoot, slaughter and gut defenceless animals. Given experts believe that the coronavirus originated from the wildlife trade, the Minister’s decision to re-open our own backyard slaughter and consumption of wildlife should not be a priority.

Very few people accept the violent pastime of killing  animals, and the Minister should be forced to explain why a hunting minority group have been given priority for eased restrictions. 

Following the summer bushfires – which burned 5.5 million hectares of NSW land and left over a billion wild animals dead – what NSW needs is an urgent moratorium on all activities putting wild animals at risk, not more killing. Wildlife carers are still working day and night to rehabilitate and release animals injured in the bushfires. This decision means that all their hard work could be undone by a single bullet.

The Government should be protecting animals and the health of our communities by ending wildlife slaughter, not encouraging it to go ahead.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSINA RAYNS, 0401 991 792

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Emma Hurst MLC slams Supreme Court decision to overturn conviction of ‘sickening act’ of animal cruelty in Campbelltown

MEDIA RELEASE: 24th  APRIL 2020

EMMA HURST MLC SLAMS SUPREME COURT DECISION TO OVERTURN CONVICTION OF 'SICKENING ACT' OF ANIMAL CRUELTY IN CAMPBELLTOWN

 

Yesterday evening it was reported that Daniel Brighton – the owner of a mobile petting zoo that includes koalas, macaques, exotic birds, crocodiles and many other species – who was previously given the longest custodial sentence (3 years and 4 months) on record for a RSPCA NSW prosecution, has had his convictions overturned on appeal.

Mr Brighton stabbed a dog with a pitchfork six times, hung her from a tree alive with the pitchfork still in her body, and then, some time later, beat her with a mallet eight times to finish killing her. A witness said he was “laughing and joking” during the attack.

“If impaling a dog to a tree with a pitchfork is not a crime in New South Wales – then we need to urgently review our Crimes Act,” said Ms Hurst.

"This was a sickening act of animal cruelty. The courts have failed to protect animals. Our weak laws in NSW allow for lenient sentences and little to no punishment for acts of abuse and violence. The community will not stand for this.

“Extensive research has shown a strong link between animal and human abuse, suggesting perpetrators commonly recommit acts of violence against humans and animals in the future.

“Anyone who beats and impales a dog is a risk to the community and to other animals. This man should not walk free in the community.

“The Netflix docuseries the Tiger King showed what violent people can do to both humans and animals. Have we just let our own notorious petting zoo owner walk free and continue to keep animals and use them for profit in Australia?

“This man stabbed, beat and impaled a dog to a tree – and he owns a business where he is in charge of multiple animals and their ongoing welfare. He is also allowed to interact with children every day in his work. Most individuals convicted of animal cruelty are still able to pass a Working With Children Check. We are calling for anyone found guilty of animal abuse to be denied and/or lose their WWCC.

“People who are violent are violent. If we continue to allow people charged with animal cruelty to get away with it, then we accept violence in our society. Australians hate animal cruelty, and we need to have a no tolerance stance against those that intentionally hurt animals," said Ms Hurst.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSINA RAYNS, 0401 991 792

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Tiger King offered us a chance to take a stand against violence. We failed.

MEDIA RELEASE: 22nd APRIL 2020

TIGER KING OFFERED US A CHANCE TO TAKE A STAND AGAINST VIOLENCE. WE FAILED.

 

Emma Hurst, MLC for the Animal Justice Party and former psychologist, has spoken out against the Netflix docuseries Tiger King, slamming public sympathy for Joe Exotic as “disturbing” and “repulsive".

“Let me put this bluntly - he is not quirky because he has a bad haircut. He is a violent man who used and abused animals for profit, and who planned to kill a woman who wants to protect those animals,” said Ms Hurst.

Ms Hurst - who has been campaigning on behalf of animals for over 25 years - recently held a roundtable in NSW Parliament, highlighting the link between animal abuse and human violence, and is now working on legislative changes to protect animal victims in domestic violence.

Ms Hurst has experienced threats from animal abusers herself, including being hit by a car, receiving death threats, and threats of sexual violence.

“The silence around the violence exposed in this docuseries - both toward animals and women - suggests to me that there is still a pervasive acceptance of violence in our society, especially toward women who men consider ‘deserve it’,” said Ms Hurst.

Joe Exotic’s behaviour is the perfect example of what psychologists call ‘the link’ – a correlation found in copious research that highlights a glaringly obvious fact: violence does not discriminate. Those who harm animals are likely to also harm people.

David Bekowitz, Jeffrey Dahmer and Edmund Kemper are all serial killers - and they all abused animals.

“People who are violent are violent. If we continue to downplay violence toward animals by finding entertainment in a docuseries about violence towards women and animals - instead of calling out the abuse - then we as a society are condoning this violence.

“As a victim of threats and violence myself, I don’t accept it. I will continue to stand up and speak on behalf of animals who need protection. I will continue to stand by victims like Carole Baskin and any other woman who has been the victim of violence,” said Ms Hurst.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: ROSINA RAYNS, 0401 991 792

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