To be launched by former High Court Justice Michael Kirby on Friday March 15th, the Human Rights and Animal Ethics Research Network will explore why the mistreatment of humans and other animal often go hand-in-hand.
Senior researcher Dr Siobhan O’Sullivan said human oppression of animals is thoroughly entwined with human oppression of other humans.
“Throughout history, animal cruelty has been intimately related to the exploitation of the poor, women, the gay community and people of colour.”
Mr Kirby said it made perfect sense to study the two fields in concert.
“Just as we sometimes turn a blind eye to suffering and abuse directed to human beings, we are all too often indifferent to suffering and abuse in other animals,” he said.
“We need to address these inconsistencies and improve our attitudes and our laws. This new network will help.
“We should all be in favour of basic decency and kindness to animals, whether human or not. Animals share the gift of sentience and feelings. They share the emotions of joy, love, fear and pain.
“There is a lot of inconsistency in the way Australians approach animal welfare. They are comfortable with giving protection to domestic animals. Yet other species are grossly maltreated without proper legal response.
The Network will investigate the;
• Mutual rights of human and other animals;
• Interrelationship of human and animal exploitation;
• Common evolutionary history of human and other animals;
• Increasing evidence for ‘shared identities’ (physiological, cultural, emotional, ethical) of human and other animals, and;
• Consequences for humanity and the planet of species extinction.
The initiative is part of the University’s overarching research objective to analyze ‘our place and purpose’ and ‘fostering health and wellbeing’. It is separate from the University’ s Animal Ethics Committee and Animal Ethics Group, which review and approve applications to conduct research involving animals.