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The eagerly awaited Thoroughbred Welfare Initiative Report will now be published in early 2021, as it looks to assist Thoroughbred racing and breeding on improving welfare outcomes.

The Thoroughbred Aftercare Welfare Working Group received over 180 submissions to its inquiry and has met with over 50 groups and individuals in seeking to make practical recommendations.

Chaired by former Victorian Premier Dr Denis Napthine, an independent welfare panel was established by the Thoroughbred industries in addressing the benefits of welfare to horses.

‘The response to the working group has been nothing short of extraordinary,’ said Dr Napthine. ‘When we put out a public call for submissions, we had no idea that we would receive so many.’

‘They were so diverse and of such high quality that it gave the opportunity to follow through on consultation meetings, with many more people and groups than originally anticipated.’

‘It extended our understanding of the perspectives of the industry and the community. When we set out on this process, we had initially expected to deliver our recommendations by Christmas.’

‘The level of engagement we have enjoyed means we have decided to change our timeline, and we look forward to sharing our findings early in the new year.’

Along with Dr Napthine, the panel includes Dr Ken Jacobs a former director of the Australian Veterinary Association, Dr Bidda Jones Chief Science and Strategy Officer for RSPCA Australia and Jack Lake a senior advisor on agricultural policy in the governments led by former prime ministers Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd.

Established in February, the panel met for three days last month, only the second time they had been able to have face to face discussion due to COVID restrictions.

As well as reading every submission, the panel commissioned research into Thoroughbred welfare programs in other countries and public attitudes towards the Thoroughbred industry.

It analysed animal welfare legislation in different states, and an assessment of the number of Thoroughbreds both in and outside the racing and breeding industry.

In assisting the TAWWG, the steering group comprised leading trainer Chris Waller, Neil Werrett VRC Board Member and part-owner of Black Caviar, Vincent Cox of Godolphin Australia, John Kelly of Newhaven Park Stud, Martin Talty of the Australian Jockeys’ Association, Andrew Nichol of the Australian Trainers’ Association and Tom Reilly of Thoroughbred Breeders Australia.

‘I’m aware of how much hard work the panel has undertaken,’ stated Tom Reilly. ‘They have read thousands of pages of submissions and spent hours meeting people and holding discussions.’

‘Yes, I’m very confident their comprehensive report will make a big contribution to improving welfare outcomes in the Thoroughbred industry.’

‘Everyone I speak to in the industry acknowledges that welfare is the biggest challenge we face and that it can only be met by working together.’

‘An import aspect of this process is that anyone who has wanted their voice heard on welfare has been able to able to put their opinions to the TAWWG – from the federal government, to racing regulators, to individual trainers and owners, through to those who have strong concerns about the industry.’

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