17 Dec CHARITY STATUS REVOKED! The Australian Government Continues To Silence Dissent
After bogging us down in an investigation for months, the ACNC today informed us unsurprisingly that our charity status has been revoked.
Page after page of nonsense reasons were provided, such as not keeping up with our meeting minutes (which we acknowledged could be easily addressed), but at the heart of the excuses was that the authorities were not informed of our protest (clearly that makes effective protest impossible as we all know) and that “veganism is not in the public benefit”
We do not believe we have an obligation to alert anyone to our plans for protest and we know that veganism is absolutely in the public benefit.
The following is what was provided to the ACNC in response to their investigation. Evidence to the below claims was provided in the form of many articles and peer-reviewed studies.
Vegan Rising response to ACNC Schedule A: Investigation into Vegan Rising
Relevant and important definitions included in our response to Schedule A
Veganism: a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.
Cruelty: wilfully causing pain and suffering to others
Suffering: the state of undergoing pain, distress or hardship
adjective – of or concerning the public as a whole
noun – ordinary people in general; the community
adjective – (especially of change or action) relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough.
noun – a person who advocates thorough or complete political or social change,
Purpose and Public Benefit
1. On 8 April 2019, Vegan Rising engaged in the Melbourne CBD public action ‘Dominion Anniversary Action’ (Dominion Action).
a. Explain how Vegan Rising’s promotion and engagement in the action referred at paragraph 1 that resulted in representatives of Vegan Rising and the general public being arrested, is consistent with, and furthers the purposes of Vegan Rising.
The purpose of Vegan Rising is to prevent and relieve the suffering of animals. To us this includes both human and non-human animals. Although Vegan Rising’s primary focus is non-human animals, this action and those moving forward will always consider ALL animals and aim to make a better world for us all.
The main purpose of the Dominion Anniversary Action on April 8 2019 was to do exactly as our purpose intends – prevent and relieve the suffering of animals. Our overall goal was to draw attention to the documentary film ‘Dominion’ which exposes the reality of what happens behind closed doors where animals are used for food, clothing, entertainment and research – (see appendix 1). The film does not focus on “rogue operators” or “one-off” random acts of violence perpetrated against other animals. Rather, it thoroughly investigates and exposes the standard, legal practices of these industries ie. the practices that are supported by the general human public when they purchase products from such industries or engage in these services/experiences. Once you view appendix 1 you will see that the standard legal practices of industries that use animals are undeniably causing suffering. By drawing attention to this film, we in-turn educate the general human public of exactly what it is they are supporting and therefore create an opportunity for people to make educated/alternative consumer choices that no longer support such suffering. By removing consumer support (veganism) we have our greatest chance at preventing and relieving such suffering, as is our approved purpose for Vegan Rising by the ACNC.
Our secondary purpose for participating in the Dominion Anniversary Action was to spark a discussion across the nation about our systemic use of animals. Through creating a small peaceful disruption to the flow of society and achieving widescale media attention we successfully sparked that discussion. (See appendix 2 for just some of examples).
The greatest cause of animal suffering is caused by human actions. Veganism, as it is defined above, is the most effective way an individual can remove their contribution to animal suffering. Therefore, a greater uptake of living vegan is the most effective way for Vegan Rising to achieve our purpose of preventing and relieving animal suffering.
A recent survey conducted by VOMAD of 12,814 global vegan citizens showed that the top three reasons people became vegan were through 1. a feature length documentary (21.9%) 2. a conversation with a friend or family member (16.8%) and 3. a video on the internet, other than a feature length documentary (14.4%) (see appendix 3). Considering our work on April 8 was aimed at encouraging the human public to take those very 3 actions, it can be safely said that our actions were aimed at achieving our purpose. The results – a national conversation was sparked (as is evident in appendix 2), the Dominion film was viewed approximately 53,000 times in the first 48 hours following the action (see appendix 4) and further attention was drawn to a website that features countless shorter length videos of systemic animal abuse (see appendix 5). Therefore, we can confidently say our action was consistent with and furthers the purpose of Vegan Rising in a way that was extraordinarily successful.
b. Explain how Vegan Rising’s promotion and engagement in the action referred at paragraph 1 that resulted in representatives of Vegan Rising and the general public being arrested, does not constitute a purpose of engaging in, or promoting activities that are unlawful or contrary to public policy.
Vegan Rising is unaware that peaceful protest is unlawful. To the contrary, our actions were in accordance with our civil right to freedom of assembly and association as outlined in the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, entered into force by Australia in 1980, notably article 19 paragraph 2, article 21 and article 22 paragraph 1 (see appendix 6).
As highlighted by the Australian Government Attorney General’s Department
“The right to peaceful assembly protects the right of individuals and groups to meet for a common purpose or in order to exchange ideas and information, to express their views publicly and to hold a peaceful protest. The right extends to all gatherings for peaceful purposes, regardless of the degree of public support for the purpose of the gathering. However, the right applies only to peaceful assemblies, not to those involving violence.”
At all times our actions were peaceful and did not negatively impact national security, public safety, public order, health or morals and therefore there was no reason for us to believe there should be restrictions placed on our civil right to freedom of peaceful assembly.
2. Explain the decision-making behind Vegan Rising engaging in the Dominion Action in the Melbourne CBD.
a. Provide documentation that details the decision made by Vegan Rising to engage in the action. Supporting documents may include meeting minutes, emails, policies, procedures and other like documentation.
There is no such documentation of such decision making however the aims of the action were in line with our purpose as an organisation and therefore influenced our decision to collaborate. The homepage of our website also states our purpose in a more extended form.
“Vegan Rising is a new animal rights direct action organisation with one objective – to help create a vegan world. We aim to challenge the systems of oppression and cruelty that have been normalised and legalised by society and demonstrate there is much simpler, kinder, ethical and sustainable way to live that is right at our fingertips. We will expose the humane washing of the so-called “ethicurean” food movement and reclaim what it means to be truly ethical and sustainable in a time where these terms have been hijacked by violent industries who romanticise exploitation and killing.” This can be viewed here https://www.veganrising.org.au/
“It’s time for those who have been unsure to take their first steps towards fighting speciesism, for those who consider themselves moderates to share the more radical views that are stewing in the back of their minds and for the radicals amongst us to get organised and absorb the momentum from this action.” (https://www.veganrising.org.au/melbourne-city-centre-shutdown-for-animals/)
3. Explain how promoting and encouraging radical views furthers Vegan Rising’s charitable purpose and is not encouragement to participate in unlawful activity, particularly in relation to the promotion and engagement in the action referred at paragraph 1.
The use and abuse of animals is prevalent throughout our society. It exists in much of the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the entertainment we participate in, and the cosmetics and other household items we purchase. Causing the suffering of animals is not only ingrained throughout our society, it is encouraged, normalised and protected by law. To take a stand against that by becoming vegan and to encourage others to do the same in a society who for the majority are complicit (whether intentional or not), is within the definition of radical as described above under definitions. To encourage people to share or act upon their more radical views is to encourage people to take action against the suffering of animals. The position of veganism itself is by definition ‘radical’ in that it challenges the fundamental nature of our current acceptance in society of causing unnecessary animal suffering. By encouraging such “radical” vegans to become active is not encouraging unlawful activity, it is encouraging people to be “far-reaching and thorough” in their advocacy for complete social change – a quest essential to preventing and relieving animal suffering, as is our ACNC approved purpose.
Further, the selected statement above that you have asked us to respond to regarding radical views was written and published after the Dominion Anniversary Action referred to at paragraph 1 and therefore is not and cannot be connected to the actual promotion and engagement of that specific action.
4. Explain how campaigning against the animal agriculture industry as a whole is for the public benefit.
At this moment in time, there are few things that could benefit the public more than the end of animal agriculture. The eradication of this industry would see extraordinary benefits throughout society. These are outlined below and supported by research articles and studies.
It is not expected that people just take our word for it. It is expected that word be taken from the experts in these fields. To ignore them is to ignore evidence based scientific fact.
Devastatingly, it was almost a decade ago when the United Nations warned that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change (see appendix 7), yet here we are nine years on having to explain why ending animal agriculture is to the benefit of the public. We cannot sustain life as we know it on an uninhabitable planet. What could be more for the public benefit than ensuring our ongoing survival?
Animal agriculture is the breeding, rearing and killing of living beings to create products marketed and sold for human consumption as food and fibre. Animal agriculture globally kills approximately 70 billion land animals and half of the estimated from 1-3 trillion aquatic animals per year (the other half being wild caught). This requires huge resources; land, water, feed, transport, and produces more greenhouse gas emissions than any other industry and all the world transport combined, making the animal agriculture industry the world’s greatest polluter, the leading cause of climate change and a major contributing factor to the sixth mass species extinction already under way. The waste produced by raising so many animals poisons waterways and oceans; and the land degradation caused by so many hard-hooved animals not only depletes the soil, it results in soil run-off destroying reefs and other aquatic life essential to maintain healthy ocean and river eco-systems.
For the sake of brevity the below research articles and studies cover just some of the environmental issues mentioned. They and the many others prove that an end to this destructive industry is in every member of the publics best interest, even those who profit from it and vehemently protect it to their own peril. There are many more research articles available and we encourage they be read also.
CLIMATE CATASTRPOPHE – NASA states “Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities.” The stark glimpse of what that means in terms of the impact on human life was made very clear in a recent policy paper (see appendix 8) warning of “outright chaos” and perhaps “the end of human global civilization as we know it.”
We are in the midst of a climate emergency.
Studies demonstrate that animal agriculture contributes from 14.5% of total GHG emissions in Livestock’s Long Shadow Report (Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations – see appendix 9) to 51% in Livestock and Climate Change (Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, World Watch – see appendix 10). A more accurate percentage from this study is 43%, with respiration removed (as explained in appendix 11 – Livestock & Climate Change: Do percentages Matter by Paul Mahony, Planetary Vegan). The large variable in percentage is also well reviewed in appendix 11 and makes the clear point that irrelevant of where in between those percentages animal agriculture sits in terms of GHG emissions, it still remains a leading cause and must be addressed.
Rarely a week goes by where we are not subjected to media stories of drought-stricken farmers grieving the loss of animals and demanding tax-payer handouts. What the media and government do not mention is that food production uses most fresh water, with so called “livestock” using most of this. As stated by the World Preservation Foundation, “this is mainly because producing animal protein requires 100 times more water than plant protein. Livestock are also the main cause of water pollution, particularly nitrification. Therefore, changing to a meat and dairy free vegan diet presents a viable solution to a thirsty world.” Repeatedly propping up water intensive industries when water is so scarce and will only become more so due to climate change factors and human population growth is not to the public benefit. Advocating for a vegan diet and providing transitional packages out of animal agriculture is (see appendix 12). The continuation of the current situation means all life on earth is threatened.
“A person who doesn’t eat meat or dairy, indirectly consumes nearly 600 gallons of water per day less than a person who eats the average American diet.” National Geographic 2015
DEFORESTATION AND MASS SPECIES EXTINCTION
The removal of trees directly impacts the earths ability to not only draw in CO2, but their burning and cutting down releases that CO2, directly accelerating climate change. 75% of black carbon (a potent GHG) comes from deforestation fires and open fires. Additionally, this deforestation destroys critical habitat for species, directly contributing to bio-diversity collapse.
“Researchers at the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by up to 73 per cent. Meanwhile, if everyone stopped eating these foods, they found that global farmland use could be reduced by 75 per cent, an area equivalent to the size of the US, China, Australia and the EU combined. Not only would this result in a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions, it would also free up wild land lost to agriculture, one of the primary causes for mass wildlife extinction.” Independent, 1st June 2018.
It was only a few months ago the UN released their report stating one million species face extinction in the coming decades, undercutting earths life support systems. Again, animal agriculture was shown to play a huge contributing factor (for a summary on the report see appendix 13). There are countless reports on the negative environmental impacts of deforestation caused by animal agriculture and many focus on the Amazon where 80% of clearing is for cattle ranching. For this response we’d like to specifically draw attention to clearing in Australia. Over the past 30 years, Queensland alone has cleared the equivalent of 12 million rugby fields for pasture to graze animals. This equates to 46 rugby fields per hour (with 21 per hour on previously uncleared land – see appendix 14).
As established in the Beyond Zero Emissions report, 56% of Australian land is dedicated to animal agriculture and two-thirds of the crops we grow are to feed all those animals (see appendix 15)
The health of Australians would improve dramatically if we ended our consumption of animal products. This in turn would relieve pressure on our public health system. The leading cause of death in Australia is heart disease, of which the consumption of meat is a major contributing factor. Other diseases and life-threatening illness such as stroke, various cancers including breast, bowel and prostate cancer, alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, kidney, liver and lung disease have all been proven to be caused or accelerated by the consumption of animal products.
The World Health Organization has classified processed meats including ham, bacon, salami and frankfurts as a Group 1 carcinogen (known to cause cancer). This places them in the same category as asbestos and cigarette smoking. Red meat, such as beef, lamb and pork, has been classified as a Group 2A carcinogen which means it probably causes cancer.
A healthy public is obviously in our best interest and yet another major reason why ending animal agriculture is for the public benefit.
Articles and studies exposing the negative health implications of eating animals and their by-products are abundant and ever growing. We have linked to just a few in appendix 16 along with many studies showing the health benefits of a vegan diet. We have also included some of the many research articles covering food poisoning prevalence from eating animals and the life-threatening growth of antibiotic resistance. The Good Food Institute recently commented that antibiotic resistance in humans caused by the use of antibiotics used in animals raised to be eaten was such a public health issue that it was of greater concern to them then the predicted catastrophic impacts of climate change.
VIOLENCE IN SOCIETY
The career aspiration of few, slaughterhouse work is a demanding, dangerous occupation in which employees are subjected to an array of physical and psychological risks. In order to simply get through a shift, a slaughterhouse worker must suppress their empathy and natural tendency to refrain from killing, and repeat the same action of killing or dismembering once-living beings over and over at high speed, to the point where numbers are meaningless: a statistic on a Payroll database translated into a (low) wage.
The commodification of lives and the pervasive ethos of keeping the factory line moving regardless of circumstances, results in the likelihood of not only physical injury, but of becoming necessarily desensitised to suffering.
Slaughterhouse workers tend to be from a low socio-economic background, historically with less educational opportunity, and are more likely to be members of less privileged groups who lack the agency to stand up for their own rights (immigrants, people of colour, indigenous etc) – (see appendix 17). Society expects the less advantaged to perform work that many have the luxury of turning down, whilst less advantaged workers can’t afford to allow themselves to feel their natural revulsion. It’s unconscionable that we force our most marginalised workers into occupations that are highly likely to cause physical injury or further trauma. It is not in the public interest to exacerbate the suffering of those who are already in need of assistance.
Furthermore, there is evidence that employees who are necessarily desensitised to animal suffering in their workplace, have an increased likelihood of being, in turn, more violent towards humans (see appendix 18) – (a news article summarising both of the afore mentioned studies can be ready at appendix 19).
Obviously, it’s in the public interest to refrain from supporting industries guilty of increasing societal violence. The existence of workplaces which have built violence into the business model and actively encourage this trait in their workers has no place in our society. We advocate an end to slaughterhouses and a reabsorption of displaced employees into ethical food production, an industry set to flourish in the years to come.
Even our own Vic Government website recognises this link: “Research has established a strong connection between abuse towards animals, and abuse towards people. When a person abuses an animal there is a risk that they may also be abusive towards other people in their lives” (see appendix 20).
In defining animal abuse, the Vic Government explicitly includes the animals we use for food, who meet their deaths in slaughterhouses. “Animal abuse can take the form of physical violence, torment, neglect, or threats to safety – be it to household pets, wildlife, or farm animals” (appendix 20).
Animal agriculture by its very nature requires animals to be exploited and killed. Even in the least harmful systems (that are extremely rare), the premise of animal agriculture is built on violence, as taking the life of someone who wants to live is a violent act, no matter how it is done. Countless hours of standard Australian slaughter practices can be viewed at appendix 21 which clearly demonstrates this. The only other example of such extreme violence on a scale that is still not even comparable, would be demonstrated on a battlefield during times of war.
We have no hope of striking at the root of violence in our society whist continuing to demand our most vulnerable human and non-human animals remain pawns of this exploitative, unethical industry. We advocate for an end to slaughterhouses, a transference of workers to plant-based or other non-violent industries and the removal of commercialised, industrialised animal abuse as essential to the public interest.
Further reading regarding associated trauma and PTSD in slaughterhouse workers at appendix 22 and 23.
OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS CONSIDERATIONS
Food Injustice – Global animal agriculture industries currently feed 70-100 billion land animals while 800 million humans starve.
Climate Refugees – The Australian government considers asylum seekers as illegals, even though we have an international obligation to uphold their human rights and recognise their right to seek asylum. To our successive governments, those who seek asylum have caused massive political headaches and have been used for many years as political footballs. The climate emergency, whose leading cause is animal agriculture, will initially have the greatest impact on the most vulnerable, and has already created 100 million climate refugees globally. It is predicted that the number of climate refugees will double in the coming decades. Read more at appendix 24. It is not in the public benefit to increase the number of climate refugees. Addressing the climate crisis by ending animal agriculture and allowing forests and oceans to recover will help to reduce this number.
THE RIGHTS OF ‘OTHER’ ANIMALS
Though the ACNC may not think of non-human animals when referring to the “public”, they most certainly should. Other animals live among us, whether domesticated or free-living. They are sentient individuals who just like us have an interest in living and living well. They experience joy, love, friendship, pain, grief, happiness, sadness, fear and many other emotions that we do. Many of the actions we take as humans impact them in some way. It is estimated that over 80% of all decisions made in parliament and at the local council level effect the lives of other animals. When we consider the “public”, their interests deserve and need to be considered also if we are to ever achieve our purpose of preventing and relieving their suffering.
When considering all animals to be members of the public, it is made even clearer why campaigning against animal agriculture as a whole is for the public benefit. As the film Dominion (appendix 1) demonstrates, the largest amount of suffering in terms of numbers of individuals affected comes from the animal agriculture industry where trillions of land and aquatic animals are exploited, egregiously harmed, suffer and ultimately are killed at the hands of this unnecessary industry. Humans can find other ways to earn a living and as all of the above studies prove, this will also benefit themselves, others and our planet by doing so. An end to animal agriculture, though will be a challenging transition for many, is urgent, essential, morally just, absolutely in the public interest and cannot come soon enough, particularly for those animal trapped within it.
5. What steps does Vegan Rising take to discourage and prevent unlawful activity arising at protests and campaigns? For example, Dominion Action.
Vegan Rising does and always will run briefings before and after protests and campaigns to ensure our efforts do not involve violence and remain peaceful. We supported an event statement that made this very clear prior to the Dominion Action and reiterated the need for peaceful and non-abusive behaviour at the protest pre-briefing. This messaging is reinforced throughout our website at veganrising.org.au
We recently hosted a training workshop to reinforce the need for non-violence at protests and plan to soon commence regular meetings that will discuss ways to be effective for animals via peaceful and lawful means.
6. Explain why Vegan Rising did not liaise with the Victorian Police prior to the Dominion Action.
a. Provide documentary evidence to demonstrate the decision to not advise police of the action.
There is no such documented evidence. We are not aware that we have an obligation as citizens who have the right to freedom of assembly and association (as outlined above in answer 1b.) to advise the police of peaceful protest.
7. Describe how Vegan Rising ensures its responsible persons, employees and volunteers act appropriately and do not engage in or promote unlawful activity.
a. What training and guidance is provided to responsible persons, employees/volunteers to ensure they understand their legal obligations and do not put Vegan Rising or themselves at risk of unlawful conduct. (this includes complying with local, state and federal laws and regulations)
Vegan Rising has an uncompromising commitment to non-violence that was expressed clearly and adamantly to those who participated in our part of the Dominion Anniversary Action. All attendees were informed of their rights as individuals to engage in peaceful assembly and were informed that if they ever felt they were at risk of engaging in unlawful conduct that they could immediately leave the location and would be 100% supported in doing so.
b. What steps does Vegan Rising take to ensure the general public are safe at the protests and campaigns it engages in.
Vegan Rising engages in the following processes to ensure the safety of the general public and attendees:
Careful assessment of protest location
Careful planning including consideration of potential safety risks and hazards, incorporating step by step processes to ensure we overcome any identified safety risks.
Engagement of dedicated volunteers qualified in first aid
Engagement of dedicated team leaders (1 for every 10 attendees) with previous demonstrated experience in team leadership and group management
Engagement of legal observers
Pre campaign briefing for all attendees
Post campaign debriefing for all attendees
8. Provide details of the planning undertaken by Vegan Rising in relation to protests and campaigns that Vegan Rising anticipated may result in charity representatives being arrested. For example, Dominion Action.
There was never any plan to be arrested.
9. Provide information and documentation on any briefing and/or training that was provided by Vegan Rising to participants prior to undertaking in the Dominion Action. Supporting documents may include meeting minutes, emails, flyers, handouts, policies, procedures and other like documentation.
a. Including any communications sent to participants in preparation for the event.
The public facebook event created by another group to communicate about the action has since been removed (we are not sure if by facebook, or the group) so we are unable to provide such documentation.
10. Does Vegan Rising pay the legal costs associated with responsible persons, employees or volunteers being arrested and/or fined for unlawful activities?
a. If yes, provide evidence of when and why Vegan Rising has done so. Governance
11. Provide a copy of Vegan Rising’s Code of Conduct
This is currently being developed. We are a very new organisation with limited time and resources however we are in the process of putting many formal documents into place.
12. Provide a copy of Vegan Rising’s governance and policy documents, including a. Policies, processes and procedures that explain how: i. Operational decisions are made and documented ii. Protest and campaign activities (for example Dominion Action) are decided and conducted by the Vegan Rising iii. How political support, lobbying or advocacy is conducted by Vegan Rising iv. The Code of Conduct is managed v. Risk is identified and managed by Vegan Rising vi. Safety is managed for the general public and for responsible persons, employees or volunteers of Vegan Rising; during and after the protests and campaigns Vegan Rising engages in.
Vegan Rising is yet to have the time and resources to develop such policy documents. We look forward to doing so and welcome any support in this process from the ACNC that they can provide.
13. Details of who posts to Vegan Rising’s website and social media platforms and who authorises the content posted.
a. Provide Vegan Rising’s social media policies and procedures.
Same as above (answer to q12)
14. Copies of all Board meeting, Member meeting and Annual General Meeting minutes and agendas for the relevant period.
15. Copies of any other documents or information you would consider relevant to address the concerns raised.
See all appendix 1-24 listed below and attached as supporting evidence.
Appendix 2 – list of extensive media Appendix 2 Media
Appendix 3 full results available at:
Appendix 16 – extensive list of studies and articles relevant to the detrimental implications of consuming animal products on human health and the healthful impacts of plant-based diets Appendix 16 Health
Research on the desensitisation of slaughterhouse workers
Research on the links between violence against animals and violence against humans
Victorian Government statement on link between violence against animals and humans
Psychological harm in slaughterhouse workers
Our evidence seemed to be acknowledged however the position that veganism is not in the public interest was still taken.
Below is our final response to the ACNC once we were informed of our charity status being revoked.
Eventually, your civil liberties will also be impacted. Maybe then you will wake up.”