Flowing fleece: Hagan te Rupe-rewiata shearing at Brooklands Park, Pingelly, WA. Picture: Chantel McAlister.

Education the answer for PETA probes

PETA's latest video documenting animal cruelty in Australia's shearing sheds and calling for a boycott on wool products should be met with a collaborative effort between all sectors in the industry bring about change, according to a well-known woolclasser.

A collaborative effort between all sectors involved in the shearing industry is what’s needed to address ongoing instances of cruelty in the sheds, according to a woolclasser who is on a mission to broaden the understanding of what she describes as the “beautiful raw glory” of wool.

Speaking in the wake of the latest video compilation of animal cruelty released by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Meandarra-based master woolclasser, Chantel McAlister, said the issue was something the industry couldn’t deny was happening.

She has seen instances of senseless violence as documented by PETA – described by them as an expose that extreme cruelty to sheep continues unabated, despite their 2014 video evidence that resulted in animal cruelty convictions – and said she was embarrassed to see her peers acting that way.

“There are bad people in every industry but this is a wake-up call,” she said. “Something needs to be done.”

Chantel, a well-known blogger on the issue, spent much of 2017 documenting all aspects of the industry on her nationwide The Truth about Wool tour, and said when she questioned people about this problem, a lack of accountability was pinpointed as the reason it continued.

“People say, it’s a tough job, shearers can’t help it because of the conditions, but that’s not acceptable,” she said. “It will be a big job but we’ve got to start somewhere.”

She believed more shearer training would help, along with certification and Workplace Health and Safety training.

Over-arching that was the need for the threat of the loss of jobs and industry bans.

“We need to call people out in the sheds, and contractors to tell people to pack their bags,” she said. “If there’s a possibility of losing a job, I think more of this would get stamped out.”

Barcaldine’s Bill Chandler agreed.

Speaking at the start of his annual shearing at Hillalong, Barcaldine, Bill said any shearers that abused his animals were “on the next bus out”.

“They don’t even get smoko. You can get rid of that sort of thing – word gets round. It’s just not on – it’s our livelihood and you’ve got to look after it.”

He also said that as a group dedicated to shutting down the sheep industry, people should be awake to PETA’s tactics.

The organisation last week used the latest video as a call for people to “help sheep” by refusing to buy wool.

The Australian Wool Innovation has said it had invested $2.8 million in the training of more than 4000 shearers and shedhands in animal welfare in the last 12 months, and $7 million in the last five years.

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