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Nation-first boost to new Equine Welfare Officer role

TRSA’s recent appointment of a dedicated Equine Welfare Officer has been complemented by an exciting nation-first initiative.

The EWO role is part of a $24 million Marshall Liberal Government stimulus package aimed at improving the performance and viability of SA’s thoroughbred racing industry.

Respected industry figure John Cornell was subsequently appointed as inaugural EWO, but in a further boost Mr Cornell will also be licensed as an inspector under the Animal Welfare Act – a status that will effectively give him powers equal to the RSPCA.

“This package is enabling TRSA to enhance its focus on animal welfare and to further develop industry-leading practices that ensure horses are cared for properly, both during and after their racing lives,” said Racing Minister Corey Wingard, who championed TRSA’s request to have Mr Cornell licensed.

“In addition, having the inaugural EWO licensed under the Act is a national first that gives TRSA the additional weight and backing required for John’s role of ensuring all equine-welfare issues are dealt with appropriately and in a timely manner.”

Mr Cornell, who will commence his assessment for qualifications in September, working with the Department of Environment and Planning, plus SAPOL, predicted the qualifications would deliver major benefits.

“The beauty of the qualifications under the Animal Welfare Act is that I will now be able to operate anywhere a horse is concerned, regardless of whether the horse is associated with a licensed person within the racing industry or not,” he said.

“Previously, I have been restricted to industry-only horses.”

Importantly, inspectors are able to seize or remove horses, and prosecute offenders when appropriate under the Animal Welfare Act.

TRSA CEO Nick Redin applauded the “genuine efforts” of Minister Wingard and Environment Minister David Speirs in helping the SA industry lead the way with its groundbreaking appointment.

“Minister Wingard and Minister Spiers should be commended for their trailblazing approach to ensuring horse welfare is paramount and that the newly established role of Equine Welfare Officer is afforded every opportunity to prosper,” Mr Redin said.

“As Equine Welfare Officer, working within TRSA, John is now responsible for ensuring that the care of racehorses through the various stages of their racing lives and into retirement is in line with best practice.”

Minister Wingard said the package recognised the necessity for the stimulus package to deliver far-reaching and tangible results.

Mr Cornell commenced as EWO recently and brings three decades of industry experience to the role, most recently spending six years as stable operations manager for Barossa-based McEvoy Mitchell Racing.

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