15 Years of Voiceless

15 Years of Voiceless

When my father, Brian, and I founded Voiceless fifteen years ago, we were both certain this would be our life’s work, that protecting animals from suffering was our calling.

Ondine and Brian Sherman

In the fifteen years since, the flames of our joint passion and dedication to stop animal cruelty have not, even for a moment, dimmed. In 2004, Voiceless was a small organization and yet, aiming to be highly strategic, Brian and I firmly believed we could punch above our weight.

One of our missions was to build and empower Australia’s fledgling animal protection movement and take it from the sidelines into the mainstream.

Ondine Sherman

To this end, we provided seed funding and support to animal advocates and activists, helping them to realise their ambitious plans and projects. Today, after $2 million dollars invested in 150 unique projects (covering scientific research, public awareness campaigns, law and policy, television and print advertisements and the publication of books and magazines), we see great success and will be sharing highlights with you in coming months.

Animal protection is no longer hidden in the wings. Rather, it stands proudly front and centre as one of our century’s new social justice movements.

By using every connection available to us, Brian and I attracted the highest echelons of Australian society to lend their voice to the cause. We found individuals who were not only successful and influential, but thoughtful, ethical and compassionate. Nobel Laureate, John M Coetzee was our first Patron followed by The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMGDr Jane Goodall DBE and Prof Charlie Teo AM. This year we have proudly added international leading light, Ai Weiwei.

In 2004, factory farming and the kangaroo industry were not covered by news outlets. My father and I were determined to ‘lift the veil of secrecy’ to finally see animal protection issues publicly debated and discussed. Our Media Prizes helped to encourage and reward journalists from all sectors, TV, print, radio and online to shine a spotlight on animal cruelty.

Brian and I are proud to say that we hired Australia’s very first Animal Lawyer and invested heavily in the field of Animal Law. We believed, and still do, that animals deserve a far better status under the law than to be considered as mere property, with no meaningful rights and substandard protections. Voiceless created a unique lecture series that saw nine of the world’s top animal lawyers and experts share their knowledge with audiences across the country. Journalists were enthralled and countless interviews followed, including prime-time television, all highlighting the law’s failings as well as the opportunities for better protecting animals.

We also dedicated ourselves to publishing and distributing numerous professional scientific and legal reports. Voiceless reports covered legalized cruelties in the pig, ‘meat’ chicken, hen and dairy industries, and acting as foundational materials for the animal protection movement. They reached the hands of hundreds of thousands of consumers, lawyers and scientists and politicians, and quoted in parliament.

Voiceless has always maintained an ethic of giving. From our first Grants in 2004 to the numerous prizes and awards we have given, we love to help others and give credit to those making a difference.

In celebration of our fifteenth birthday, we will be recognising the remarkable individuals who work on the front-lines, dedicating their lives to the physical acts of rescuing and rehabilitating orphaned and abused animals. Further details will be announced in the coming months, please watch this space.

Looking back we feel pride that, along with our wonderful Voiceless Team, we have achieved many of our original objectives. Over the last fifteen years, there have been countless people who have supported and inspired us. Thank you to all of you who have been with us during this journey.

Looking forward, we have our eyes still set on the horizon, on our vision of a world in which animals are treated with respect and compassion. Our new strategy of focusing on youth and education will foster a new generation of leaders and thinkers to make this vision a reality.

We look forward to sharing the next fifteen years with you.

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