Giving a voice to the Voiceless
Voiceless, the animal protection institute, has a new confronting campaign aiming to improve animal living conditions on factory farms. Olivia Shead reports.
For decades, publicity over animal rights has seemed to hover just out of view. However in 2011, there was huge growth of concern over the secret disgrace of Australia’s factory farms, as campaigns began spreading far and wide.
Now, Voiceless aims to do their part, with their new television advertisements catapulting into Australian living rooms.
The campaign, ‘Factory farming: the truth is hard to swallow’ features hard-hitting facts through emotion-driven storytelling. Focusing on the reality of pork and poultry farming, Voiceless opens the curtains on the often-unseen truths of cow stalls and hormone-induced hens.
With the support of Academy Award Winning Producer Emile Sherman, narration by actors and Voiceless Ambassadors Hugo Weaving and Abbie Cornish, Voiceless has a loud message to be heard.
Mr Weaving opens the campaign with haunting words.
“This year 10 billion animals worldwide and 500 million in Australia will suffer lives of pain and distress in factory farms,” he narrates in the film.
“If I treated a dog the way pigs and chickens are treated on these farms, I’d likely be prosecuted.”
The words ring true, with Australian law classifying animals as property – a commodity, confined to cages. Unlike many other similar campaigns, Voiceless does not show you an overly gruesome depiction of factory farming, instead attempting to hone in on common decency.
“We are not out to shock people with these ads,” said Sherman.
“We simply want the Australian public to think about where their food comes from, and to look further into factory farming.”
Australia is lagging greatly behind the European Union, who in the past decade passed the world’s toughest animal anti-cruelty laws. The laws saw the banning of the most cramped battery hen cages and the tightening of rules on pig castration and the slicing of their tails.
By relying on facts and figures, Voiceless hopes that the emotion driven up from the campaign can lead the public to pressure politicians.
“We all know how politics works; it’s not going to go anywhere unless politicians know there are votes behind those opinions,” said Dana Campbell, CEO of Voiceless.
However Australian animal laws are caught up in a circuit of contradiction, with those in charge of enforcing laws being the very people who protect the profits of the food industry.
Graeme McEwen, chair of the Barristers Animal Welfare Panel concurs.
“Animal welfare is administered by the departments of primary industries,” he said. “It’s like putting the minister for resources and mineral development in charge of climate change.”
Though there are supporters of Voiceless in the government, most notably newly appointed foreign minister Bob Carr, anti-animal cruelty laws are still far from being revised.
Executive Director of the Cattle Council of Australia, David Inall, spoke of Voiceless as being at the “more extreme end” of the spectrum when it came to animal rights.
“It [Carr's support of Voiceless] is certainly something that we would harbour some concerns about,” Inall said.
“We would hope that Mr Carr is able to put aside any of his views in that area and to provide a very strong service for Australian agriculture, that is what we would expect of a foreign minister.”
With opinions falling on both sides, Voiceless continues to speak loudly.
Both the Seven and Nine Network have offered free advertisement slots for the campaign and Campbell has been in conversation with GetUp with regards to the continuation of the campaign for future months.
Whatever the case is, it is clear that Voiceless aims to place the future of animals in people’s hands.“Ultimately, each of us must respond to animal cruelty in our own way,” said Campbell.
“The response is often a journey, where the starting point is learning the truth that lies behind your fork.”