About the Australian Horse Industry Council
Who are we?
The Australian Horse Industry Council (AHIC) represents the interests of all persons and the health and welfare of all horses in the Australian horse industry.
The AHIC exists through the voluntary services of elected Directors and Trustees and the expertise of individuals co-opted on to sub-committees. Financial support for AHIC activities is derived from subscriptions from associations and individuals.
Why are we needed?
There are many groups within the horse industry with each group having special interests. However many issues facing these groups are not unique and affect large parts of the industry. These issues are more appropriately and effectively addressed by a single national body rather than a multitude of organisations representing different industry groups. The AHIC in conjunction with State Horse Councils aims to address these issues.
What do we do?
Specific functions currently undertaken by the AHIC and State Horse Councils relate to the following areas:
- Horse health and quarantine
- Seeking agreement from Government on funding for disease emergencies
- Promotion of R&D to benefit the industry
- Establishing a funding mechanism for equine R&D and health programs
- Horse welfare and rider safety
- Maintenance of access to public lands for safe and environmentally responsible horse activities.
- Responsible use of grazing areas by horse owners
- Dissemination of information concerning the horse industry
- Monitoring of legislative and administrative decisions, acts, regulations and proposals which concern or may concern the horse or horse industry
- Maintenance of a high level of liaison between the horse industry and governments
- Establishment of a data-base to aid communication within the industry
- Taxation issues
What have we done?
Despite limited resources the AHIC has for many years given highly effective representation of horse industry views. In particular this has been achieved through the work of the Quarantine and Health Sub-Committee. For many years the Quarantine and Health Sub-Committee has liaised with government quarantine authorities to protect the health of all horses in Australia. The Sub-Committee has utilised the services of expert veterinarians and others involved in all parts of the horse industry
The AHIC addressed the public liability crisis by:
- Development of the Code of Practice with the cooperation of a number of horse groups and interested individuals
- Working with Federal and State bureaucrats and politicians to improve the legal protection of clubs, individuals and businesses offering potentially risky activities.
- Liaising with insurance companies to encourage them to offer insurance for horse activities.
- Introduction of Horsesafe to recognise businesses working to the Code of Practice.
What are our plans?
The AHIC devised the concept of the Horse Emergency Contact Database (HECD) to assist horse owners to protect the welfare of their horses in emergencies. The project has received State and Federal funding, administered through NSW Department of Primary Industries
The AHIC has had prolonged negotiations with Animal Health Australia (AHA) and the Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) to provide horses with government assistance in the event of an outbreak of emergency diseases equal to that provided to other livestock species. The major impediment is the lack of a levy on the horse industry that could be used to pay a share of the disease response.
- A major concern for the broader horse industry is the lack of a permanent funding base for Research and Development (R&D). Funds provided to the Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation (RIRDC) receive dollar for dollar matching grants from the Federal Government. RIRDC supervises an excellent R&D program that uses available funds extremely effectively. Through a range of media RIRDC disseminates research results, and extensive educational material, widely throughout the horse industry. The AHIC works with RIRDC’s horse program through the attendance at workshops, input into the strategic plan for equine research and support for the industry owned R&D that benefits all horses.
- Animal health programs are administered by Animal Health Australia (AHA). AHA is a public company jointly and equally funded by Federal Government, state and territory governments and livestock industries. The AHIC, the Australian Racing Board (ARB) and the Australian Harness Racing Council (AHRC) are members of AHA. The AHIC, ARB and AHRC have worked intensively with AHA, however real outcomes for horses have been limited because of a lack of funding from the recreational sector of the horse industry.
- The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources provides the AHIC with protocols and risk analysis reports dealing with not only equines, but many other species that share disease risk. The AHIC contributes comment and input on these reports.