Animals have traditionally been overlooked in politics, resulting in laws that fail to protect them from exploitation, abuse and neglect. This Federal Election year, the Voiceless Animal Law Lecture Series will look at the rapidly growing global movement to represent animals in politics, and use political processes to achieve positive change for animals.



Anastasia Smietanka is a Barrister at the Victorian Bar. In 2015 she was named in the Impact 25 as one of the most influential individuals in the not-for-profit sector by Pro Bono Australia. Anastasia co-founded and manages The Animal Law Institute (ALI), a not-for-profit national community legal centre that provides pro bono legal representation to animals and their advocates. She is also:

  • a member of the Legal Advisory Council of Voiceless;
  • on the Board of a number of animal rescue charities; and
  • the co-founder of the Australia New Zealand Intervarsity Moot on Animal Law.

She was the National Co-ordinator of the Barristers Animal Welfare Panel from 2012 to 2014 (and the Victorian Co-ordinator from 2009 to 2012). She studied at the University of Melbourne and also completed Media and French degrees. She lives in Melbourne with her four fur babies, an assortment of foster dogs and the occasional piglet.

Anastasia will be presenting at the VIC lectures.

Each of the three levels of government in Australia has been vested with some responsibility for animal protection. Council powers are focused on companion animals. State government responsibilities are focused on farm animals in the context of agriculture and food production. Federal government responsibilities are focused on the export and import of farm and exotic animals. In recent decades, Federal Governments have had an appalling record on animal welfare. Successive governments have been unable to achieve any meaningful animal welfare reform and Departments of Agriculture have been compromised by their conflicting duties to producers and animals. For these reasons, the push for an Independent Office of Animal Welfare must be the focus of animal welfare reform at the upcoming Federal Election. Anastasia will explore the various competing proposals for an Independent Office of Animal Welfare and will argue that any effective Office must be given prosecutorial power and must have counter-parts at a State level.