The independent welfare panel established by the Thoroughbred industry earlier this year, which is chaired by former Victorian Premier Dr Denis Napthine, will publish its report in early 2021.

The Thoroughbred Aftercare Welfare Working Group (TAWWG) has received more than 180 submissions to its inquiry and has met with over 50 groups or individuals, as it seeks to make practical recommendations to assist the Thoroughbred racing and breeding industries in improving welfare outcomes.

Dr Napthine said: “The response to the working group has been nothing short of extraordinary. When we put out a public call for submissions we had no idea we would receive so many, or that they would be so diverse and of such high quality.

“This has given us an important opportunity to follow up through consultation meetings with many more people and groups than we originally anticipated, to extend our understanding of the perspectives of the industry and the wider community. When we set out on this process, we had initially expected to deliver our recommendations before Christmas, but the level of engagement we have enjoyed means we have decided to change our timeline. 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.

The group, which was established in February, 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 has commissioned research into Thoroughbred welfare programs in other countries; public attitudes towards the Thoroughbred industry; animal welfare legislation in different states; and an assessment of the number of Thoroughbreds both in and outside the racing and breeding industry.

Also providing assistance to the TAWWG is an industry steering group comprising leading trainer Chris Waller; Neil Werrett, Board Member of the Victoria Racing Club and part-owner of Black Caviar; Vin Cox, Managing Director of Godolphin Australia; John Kelly, owner of Newhaven Park Stud; Martin Talty, CEO of the Australian Jockeys’ Association; Andrew Nichol, CEO of the Australian Trainers’ Association; and Tom Reilly, CEO of Thoroughbred Breeders Australia.

Mr Reilly said: “I am aware of how much hard work the panel has undertaken; they have read literally thousands of pages of submissions and spent hundreds of hours meeting with people and holding their discussions.

‘’I am 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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Dr Denis Napthine: 0407 234 366
Tom Reilly, CEO Thoroughbred Breeders Australia: 0423 146 334