- IMPROVING WELFARE
- ENSURING CONFORMANCE
- STRENGTHENING ESCAS
Continual improvement is important to fostering practice change and a better standard of animal welfare. Components under LGAP have been specifically structured to:
- demonstrate the Program's intention to foster best practice, recognising that the World Organisation for Animal Health's (OIE) Terrestrial Animal Health Code and ESCAS are minimum requirements rather than best practice;
- create an aspirational pathway which encourages adoption of animal welfare factors based on international precedents and science;
- foster continual improvement for all participants through the provision of opportunity and encouragement to extend performance; and
- recognise those Facilities willing to extend performance.
Three primary components under LGAP foster continual improvement: Internal auditing, risk assessments and Levels.
The use of internal auditing is an important self check or self assessment for Facilities and Operators. This mechanism enables these entities to identify where they may be starting to move out of conformance and provides an opportunity for self correction before serious issues arise. This protects the welfare of animals and the interests of the Facility and the Operators supplying that Facility.
Independently conducted external audits provide oversight into the internal audit process.
After every external audit, the Approved Auditor would undertake a risk assessment as prescribed by the Program Owner. The purpose of the risk assessment is to determine the frequency of ongoing internal and external audits - the higher the risk rating; the more frequent the internal and external audits.
The risk assessment relates to the likelihood of an Operator or Facility continuing to conform with the LGAP Standards and Rules and assesses the controls in place to ensure continued conformance, as shown in the diagram below.
At the end of every external audit, the risk assessment is repeated and the risk rating reassigned accordingly. This approach rewards good performance and encourages continual improvement.
LGAP acknowledges that local livestock within export markets are often treated differently to livestock from Australia. While these handling methods may be consistent with World Organisation for Animal Health's (OIE) guidelines and that country’s own requirements, they may not be fully compliant with Australia's standards under ESCAS. LGAP manages this reality by allowing controlled 'parallel operations' through different ‘Levels’ within the Program.
As shown in the diagram below, Level 1 can be considered OIE equivalent and could be applied to non-Australian livestock. Level 2 can be considered ESCAS equivalent and would be the mandatory level required to receive Australian livestock. Level 3 recognises international ‘best practice’ and demonstrates the Program’s vision to foster best practice by acknowledging Facilities and Operators that are willing to extend their performance. The concept of ‘best practice’ under the Program is based on science, research and international precedents.
Facilities can be certified in combination, for example, Level 1 for local livestock and Level 2 for Australian livestock. The risk assessment and subsequent risk rating used under LGAP acts as an incentive for Facilities to adopt at least Level 1 for their local livestock (or livestock from other exporting countries). Facilities that choose to operate at both Level 1 or local animals and Level 2 for Australian animals will likely achieve a lower risk rating than those that do not.
The use of parallel operations under LGAP alleviates the potential for the Program to be criticised as being neo-colonial and impinging upon sovereign rights. This approach also presents an aspirational pathway for participants to surpass current OIE guidelines for local livestock or livestock imported from countries other than Australia and potentially achieve higher standards than those under ESCAS.
Ultimately, this structure aims to deliver a better animal welfare outcome than would be achieved through an alternative (or no) structure.