Chatting with Emma Hurst- Head of Campaigns, Animal Liberation NSW
In my last blog I looked into the duck industry and spoke about the informative report and campaign put together by Animal Liberation NSW. The woman behind it all, is Head of Campaigns, Emma Hurst. Dedicating her time and energy to increasing awareness and sharing information that allows us, as consumers, to have clear knowledge of what is actually going on behind closed doors. Today she has shares some of her journey with us.
Animal Liberation is your work (and no doubt your passion), can you share with me your personal journey of discovery into the plight of animals?
When I was a young girl my parents rescued two cats from the Cat Protection Society. For as long as I can remember I refused to eat meat and it dawned on me while caring for these cats that there is no difference between a cat, a cow, a chicken, etc., and that they are all beings worthy of love and respect. I couldn’t work out why we as a society cared for one type of animal, and killed and ate another. I was vegetarian for many years, but then one day was passed a flyer at the traffic lights about Animal Liberation. When I searched them on the internet I read about the cruelty in the dairy and egg industries and changed to a vegan lifestyle straight away. I haven’t looked back since!
As the head of Campaigns at Animal Liberation NSW, what does a typical day look like for you?
Every day is so incredibly different. It is such an unusual work environment- we may come in planning to spend the day on administration tasks and then receive a call that will change everything. I have travelled to outback NSW and QLD working undercover to film cruel wild goat racing, worked with media to expose animal cruelty in abattoirs, and regularly meet with lawyers and politicians to try to get laws changed to protect animals.
What are the major positive changes you have seen in Australia in the animal welfare movement over the last few years?
There has been a major shift over the last two or three years. Several years ago it was very difficult to get media attention on animal issues but this seems to have changed. The public have become far more receptive and interested in animal rights and welfare. This has been such a positive step. In the last two years we have exposed major cruelty at two abattoirs in NSW- Hawkesbury Valley and Inghams. There is a conscious growing that conditions here in Australia are really are not much better than they are overseas.
What are the biggest issues in Australia right now?
The biggest issue is the way farmed animals are treated. Everyday millions of animals are being kept in hideous conditions – ducks are kept without water, egg laying chickens are living in battery cages, cows are stacked together in feedlots without shade or room to move. The list goes on.
What would the best outcome be for your recent expose on duck faming in Australia?
This campaign is a real process oriented campaign – we are approaching all suppliers and educating the public about the issues. The first step is to get the information out there – hence our report and recent grant for advertising. Most people don’t realise the issues in duck farming, nor that 8 million ducks are raised and killed every year. It would be great if people didn’t eat ducks at all, but this will be a long process. In the meantime we will be focusing on public education and also encouraging suppliers and politicians to recognise the issues and take a stand.
What are three effective ways for people to affect change for the better?
1) Adopt a vegan lifestyle
2) Adopt a vegan lifestyle
3) Adopt a vegan lifestyle!
And of course spread the message!