Voiceless in their words is ‘an independent non – profit think tank focused on raising awareness of animals harmed by factory farming and the kangaroo industry in Australia’.
I first encountered Voiceless during my earlier years of law school when opportunities were posted on the law students’ careers board for legal volunteers with Voiceless. I was impressed that a not for profit organisation was paving the way in what was and remains, though to a much lesser degree, a niche area of law, in advocating for legislative protections for animals.
However as corporate law and interestingly enough humanitarian law became more and more the areas of law that were my focus (to those of my fellow law student peers and legal colleagues who scoffed in the vein of Mr Kipling that ne’er the twain shall meet, you’re wrong!) I shifted away from what was always an area of interest albeit a lesser interest for me.
Until I recently commenced on my windy, disjointed path of confused pescetarianism / veganism / vegetarianism and rekindled my exploration of how exactly animals are exploited and mistreated – from factory farming, to animal testing to animals being skinned alive for the fur industry. There are some truly abominable practices thriving and Voiceless is a laudable organisation for helping to expose such practices and working to reform laws to abolish these practices. Such reforms include moving towards providing a framework for what is acceptable treatment of animals and consulting with government and the legislative drafters within government to attain enacted legal protections for animals particularly factory farmed animals and kangaroos.
At present, kangaroos are classified as “protected fauna” but protected does not mean they cannot be killed and animals such as factory farmed animals are legally identified as property or for the more legally precise “chattel”. A corporate entity that is not living or breathing can be defined as a person but a sentient being who can experience physical pain is not afforded an equivalent standing under the law.
Organisations like Voiceless are what will motivate industries to become more transparent and hopefully increase their standards to go beyond what constitutes best practice under an Industry Code in respect of animal treatment and these organisations also enable consumers to become more educated and aware of where and how animal products are being sourced, and whether such sourcing is in alignment with the individual consumer’s ethical benchmark for animal welfare.
The importance of Voiceless’ work can be recognised by the calibre of their patrons, most notably the Hon Michael Kirby, Former High Court of Australia Judge and John Maxwell Coetzee, a Nobel Laureate in Literature.
There are voluminous amounts to be written about the efforts of Voiceless, but for now I will leave you with a quote from J.M. Coetzee:
There has been a blossoming of conferences and symposia on the place of animals in our legal systems, courses on animal rights at law schools, books and articles everywhere…..The way has not been easy and will perhaps get even more difficult. The animal exploitation industries have huge resources behind them, and have the ear of government. But it is impossible to believe that, in the end, justice and compassion will not triumph.
Please visit Voiceless on their website at www.voiceless.org.au. You can:
- participate in the Voiceless Law Talk discussion board and ask questions or post your commentary on the status of animal rights and animal law;
- download and read the 2013 Voiceless Anthology for $1.99; and
- vote on the Voiceless Writing Prize sponsored by Australian Ethical Investment (more on ethical investment later!).
A harnessing of individual action will generate an avalanche of movement.