PRESS RELEASE: Animals Also A Part Of The ‘Peoplescape’ Honours.

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated 23 November 2001
Christine Townend, a pioneer and leading figure of the new animal rights movement in Australia, has been chosen as one of the 5000 Australians to be represented by a cardboard figure as part of the Centenary of Federation celebrations (visit the website at

Although her great grandfather, Sir Edward Carlile, was a parliamentary draftsman who helped draw up the Australian Constitution, Christine was nominated and selected because of her work for animals as founder of Animal Liberation in Sydney in l976. In 1980 she also co-founded the (then) Australian Federation of Animal Societies together with Professor Peter Singer. This organisation, now called Animals Australia, is a federation of some 40 Australasian animal protection groups.

Christine Townend is now Managing Trustee of Help in Suffering, an animal shelter in Jaipur, India, where she has been living with her husband since l992. She has had five books published, one of which was instrumental in instigating a Senate Select Inquiry into the welfare problems of the extensive wool industry.

‘I am glad that the animals have also been represented in this display which recognises the many facets of Australian life,’ Christine said. ‘The animals helped us build Australia. The bullock wagons, and horse wagons laboured through the mud and rough bush tracks under the whip, and camels crossed the hot outback areas. Their contribution to our civilisation is rarely acknowledged.

‘It is often said that Australia rode on the sheep’s back and that our national wealth was largely built on the wool industry, but it is little realised that sheep suffer terribly. Of a national flock of some 115 million, five percent of sheep die ‘on the farm’. This represents an appalling 5.75 million sheep that die from lack of shelter, lack of veterinary care, from drought, cold snaps, and exposure. This figure does not even include the 20 percent of lambs that die before marking every year. One Department of Agriculture paper has shown that in the month following shearing about a million sheep die largely from exposure.

‘In addition to all this unnecessary suffering, about 5 million sheep are sent live to the Middle East every year. They are crowded three to a square metre, some cannot reach the food and water, suffering from stress which results in shipping fever and ‘shrink’. At the end of the journey they are slaughtered without pre-stunning, something we would not allow here.

‘Worst of all is the ghastly mutilation called ‘mulesing’ where a large area of flesh is sliced from around the tail area of lambs with a pair of shears, without anaesthetic. It is claimed that this ‘operation’ prevents fly-strike, but it is used because it is cheaper and easier than the alternatives of dipping, crutching and jetting.

‘Let us hope that when we honour ordinary Australians we also honour and protect the well-being of the animals who have throughout our history played such a major role in the development of our nation,”  Ms Townend concluded.