Introducing the New Animal Law Unit

Animal law will be offered as a new elective in Term 3 2021 as part of CQUni’s Bachelor of Laws program.

While writing the unit, Dr Alexandra McEwan took the opportunity to check in with some of CQUni’s College of Law, Criminology and Justice academics to ask their perspective on why it is important that we offer animal law as an elective in the LLB curriculum.

Keep reading to see what they have to say…

Professor Stephen Colbran

From a College of Law, Criminology and Justice, perspective, Professor Stephen Colbran, Dean of Law, Criminology and Justice.

Animals are everywhere, some domesticated, many roaming free and wild on the land, flying in the air, and swimming in the seas. Humans constantly interact with animals, some for companionship, many earn a living from racing, grazing, rearing, medicinal medicine, and research, while most are mere casual encounters. 

Professor Stephen Colbran with Darcy

How we interact with animals and their natural environment is a vast area of research, regulation, and diverse opinions. There are wildlife warriors hell-bent on conservation and protection, many looking for financial reward and others desiring to cull unwanted pests.

Animals are newsworthy. They can be prized athletes such as Olympic dressage and racehorses, they can be crime fighters such as drug and detection dogs, they can also be notorious such as dive-bombing magpies, tsetse flies, and raging bull sharks. Each species conjures up its own persona, rituals, and deadliness. The legal and moral status of animals raises many questions and debates.

The CQUni College of Law Criminology and Justice is proud to offer a new unit in animal law and to be actively involved with conservation research in Vietnam, helping to protect endangered species. We hope to educate a new cohort of students in this important area of the law and contribute to public debate on how to best coexist with the animal kingdom.

Rose and Darcy sporting a transspecies look

Dr Amanda Jane George

From a Research perspective, Dr Amanda-Jane George, Post Graduate Research Coordinator, Senior Lecturer: Law.

Since I was three years old, I’ve had the privilege of owning a rag-tag bunch of animals – ten dogs, two cats, several finches – all with their own unique personalities! My toy poodle Ollie, for example, has taken a strong aversion to the current NRMA koala advertisement on television and loudly voices his objections every time it comes on!

While I cherish my trusty companions, in a broader sense, animals are incredibly important in all areas of human life – from therapy dogs to farmed salmon and wild animals.

The Animal Law unit considers many ways humans and animals interact – and provides students with a valuable opportunity to develop a critical lens when investigating the legal framework that guides our interactions with animals.

While animals are literally our companions on this planet, they are not always shown the care and respect they deserve. Practices such as the patenting of genetically tailored animals and the use of animals in research are subjects of heated debate. Importantly, the Animal Law unit allows students to reflect and develop a reasoned analysis of such issues, and to articulate balanced and cogent arguments related to the current state of law and areas for reform.

I would encourage anyone with an interest in animals to consider the Animal Law unit.

Dr AJ George with a furry friend, Ollie.

Dr Nichola Corbett-Jarvis

From a Learning and Teaching perspective, Dr Nichola Corbett-Jarvis, Senior Lecturer, Acting Dean Learning and Teaching, School of Business and Law.

Animal Law is an exciting new addition to our suite of electives. It provides so many opportunities to explore primary legal sources. As students will need to become familiar with a range of statutes that govern this area, this unit provides an opportunity for students to practise and enhance their statutory interpretation skills. It will also introduce students to quasi-legislative sources, such as Codes of Practice.

This unit will encourage students to be more than a ‘black letter lawyer’ (where students focus only on the interpretation and application of the law to a client’s problem) and inspire them to consider the impact the application of the law has on animals, the environment, individuals and the community and how change can and should be affected.

A benefit of focusing on evaluating the law in this manner is that it enhances students’ analytical skills. This unit is the perfect vehicle for students to learn how to locate and analyse interdisciplinary secondary sources, from disciplines such as criminology, and provides exposure to qualitative and quantitative data which is rarely considered in traditional law units.

Nichola and family adopted Millie – she was a rescue dog.

To find out more about the unit, visit the CQUni Handbook for contact Dr Alexandra McEwan.

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