Animal law workshop first in southern hemisphere

The first animal law workshop in the southern hemisphere will be held in Brisbane this week.

Workshop co-organiser and Griffith law lecturer Steven White said animal law was an area that affected all of us, and was growing in importance.

“Animal law looks at how we govern our relationship with animals, including companion and farm animals, animals used in research or for entertainment, animals in the wild and so on,” Mr White said.

“The discussion of animal law issues is rapidly becoming part of the mainstream, as seen with issues like battery hen cages and live sheep export.

“As humans begin to exhibit greater concern for the treatment of animals, the law is responding, and issues surrounding their treatment are becoming more complex.”

The workshop will bring together the growing number of academics and lawyers with a passion for animal law, who are working in isolation across Australia and New Zealand, for discussion and debate regarding the legal issues involving animals in Australasia.

The workshop will allow them to share strategies, ideas and inspiration and spur greater legal research, Mr White said.

“Animal law is a consistent subject of reform, and serious cases involving animal interests are launched regularly in the courts,” Mr White said.

“Over the past 25 years the development of animal law has progressed dramatically. It was once regarded as a fringe topic but has now carved out a substantial niche, with more than 100 courses on animal law taught worldwide.

“In the last five years alone, ten courses on animal law have emerged at Australian and New Zealand universities, with Griffith being the first and only Queensland university to offer an animal law course.”

Five separate legal advocacy groups have also started in that time.

“Australia and New Zealand are slowly waking up to the new reality of significant academic and community interest in animal law,” Mr White said.

The workshop is being hosted by Griffith University and the University of Auckland. University of Auckland academic Peter Sankoff, who is the leading Australasian animal law teacher and researcher, is also co-organiser of the event.

The conference is funded by Voiceless and will be held at the Ship Inn Function Room at Griffith’s South Bank campus from August 31 — September 2. For further information visit