Preventing Abuse: People and Animals Working Group

Sentient is delighted to announce the establishment of its "Preventing Abuse: People and Animals Working Group (PAWG)". The working group is directed by Dr Catherine Tiplady and Dr Di Evans , two veterinarians who use research, education, advocacy and practical measures to tackle the complex issue of animal abuse, including where it links to abuse of people.  The group aims to bring together veterinarians, researchers, and educators who can develop evidence-based, ethical, and effective strategies to address specific issues of animal abuse in Australia.

Of particular focus will be violence towards animals in the home. It is now understood that pets are all too commonly abused in homes where there is also domestic or family violence. It can be estimated that up to 300,000 pets are at risk in violent Australian homes. These pets are suffering behind closed doors in the one place that they should be safe. Pet abuse in these circumstances is used as a method of inflicting distress and fear on human victims, in many cases to prevent them from leaving. This working group promotes  research on understanding the links between animal abuse and domestic and family violence, and on methods for diagnosing animal abuseIts aim is to improve the way the veterinary profession and others respond to this hugely important welfare issue, one which has a devastating effect on the lives of countless animals and the people who love them.  Dr Evans will focus on the critically important area of developing and promoting methods of preventing abuse. Dr Evans brings to this role over 20 years of experience using education and advocacy to improve animal welfare and prevent abuse.  Her expertise will allow the group to turn knowledge into action - to help stop abuse before it happens. 


The “Preventing Abuse: People and Animals Working Group” would be delighted to hear from  veterinarians, researchers, or other professionals who work in the realms of animal abuse or animal-human violence and are interested in collaborating. We look forward to updating Sentient members and the wider community about the group’s plans, projects, and outcomes.



If you would like to join or enquire about the People and Animals Working Party 

please email us at

Submission to DPI survey on proposed changes in Discussion Paper: Improving the Current Legislation – Penalties and Critical Situations



For too long, we have all been distressed by the minimal penalties often delivered to those who abuse animals. The NSW Department of Primary Industries has sought feedback on improvements proposed by enforcement agencies to animal welfare penalties for cruelty offences, and to the protection of animal welfare during critical and emerging incidents.

Sentient has supported most of these suggested changes, which include: increasing animal welfare penalties; the application of disqualification orders to serious and reckless animal cruelty offences under the Crimes Act (meaning a convicted person cannot acquire, take possession or custody of any animal during the period specified in the order), with the inclusion of ‘interim’ disqualification orders (akin to interim AVOs); greater penalties for non-compliance with Court orders under the POCTA Act; and broadening the provisions for the seizure and disposal of livestock as needed to protect their welfare during critical incidents (eg. drought or financial hardship) to cover animals kept in intensive systems, such as feedlots.

Lucy's Project Veterinary Workshop

The Lucy's Project Veterinary Workshop brought together vets and figures from the Victorian Police, Victorian government, non-government agencies working in the field of family violence (FV) , and figures in the veterinary industry including RSPCA and the Australian Veterinary Association.


The main points discussed were as follows:

1. Veterinarians’ Role in Reporting Animal Abuse.


A brief overview of the most common indicators of animal abuse was given, along with statistics on levels of FV and the links between FV and non-accidental injury (NAI) of animals.


Veterinarians are not required to report NAI in Australia and the AVA does not recommend mandatory reporting as they feel this will discourage people from bringing their animals to a vet for treatment. However the Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board of Victoria encourages reporting of NAI as part of its Veterinarian Code of Conduct.

Lucy’s Project ( was inspired and founded in 2013 by lawyer Anna Ludvik, to promote awareness of the link between animal abuse and domestic violence as well as funding small projects to gain a greater understanding of the complex aspects involved in this issue. This was the first conference held and was attended by over 30 people from various sectors including animal advocacy, veterinary, education, law, police, psychology and social work from various States. Sentient’s People and Animals Working Group was represented by Dr Lydia Tong, Dr Catherine Tiplady and Dr Di Evans. Representatives from the RSPCA included staff from New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria and Lort Smith Animal Hospital was also represented as well as the Animal Justice Party.

Dr Catherine Tiplady

PAWG Working Group Spokesperson

Dr Catherine Tiplady is a veterinarian who works at the Animal Welfare League whilst studying for a PhD in Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse at the University of Queensland Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics. Catherine’s research aims to discover (1) how animals and people are affected by domestic violence and (2) how veterinarians can best provide support to these animals and people. Catherine’s postgraduate study is supervised by Professor Clive Phillips at the University of Queensland’s Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, and Dr Deborah Walsh, family violence researcher and lecturer at UQ’s School of Social Work and Human Services. Catherine has presented at local and international conferences and has co-authored several papers on a range of welfare topics including animal abuse in domestic violence, animal use in veterinary education and how the public is affected by media broadcasts of animal cruelty.  Current research interests involve examining how veterinarians are emotionally affected by working with abused animals. 


Catherine’s book, ‘Animal Abuse – Helping Animals and People’, was published in 2013 by CABI, with contributions by experts from the veterinary forensics, animal welfare and human social work fields.  She was a recipient of the ASPCA funded scholarship to undertake a Veterinary Forensic Sciences Certificate course via the Maples Centre for Forensic Medicine, University of Florida, USA and the International Society for Animal Ethology travel scholarship. Catherine is very excited to be part of the new Sentient working group in human/animal abuse and hopes that this collaboration will result in improved welfare outcomes for animal and human domestic violence survivors. Catherine can be contacted via her email:

Dr Di Evans

PAWG Working Group Member

Dr Di Evans graduated from Murdoch University Veterinary School and has various welfare related roles including animal ethics/welfare officer at Murdoch University and for the WA Department of Agriculture and Food. She has been a spokesperson for the WA AVA Animal Welfare Advisory Group and was a member of the WA working group that reviewed the WA animal welfare legislation. Di assisted in the Human and Animal Bioethics course review and re-development at Murdoch University as well as lectured and tutored. , She completed her Masters at Murdoch, titled ‘Developing animal welfare codes of practice: Evaluation of strategies for the pet shop industry’ and is a member of the Animal Welfare Chapter of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists. Di has a keen interest in humane education having developed ‘PetPep, the Pets and People Education Program’ for primary school teachers in collaboration with the WA Primary Science Teachers Association. She joined RSPCA South Australia as their new Animal Welfare Advocate in May 2013 and implemented an Empathy Education Program in South Australian primary schools. She was instrumental in establishing the Safe Kennels Program which aims to provide emergency and ongoing care for companion animals from families forced to flee domestic violence. Di is also keen to identify effective programs to assist children cope with the trauma and impact of witnessing or being forced to participate in acts of animal cruelty. Di’s currently works for RSPCA Australia as a Senior Scientific Officer.

Please reload