Monday, 20 May 2024

Reception for Safe Pets Safe Families

Rod and I warmly welcome you all to Government House this evening to mark 10 years of Safe Pets Safe Families, the first charity of its kind in Australia.

In recent weeks and months, violence against women has featured prominently in the media, and tragically for all the wrong reasons: nearly 30 women have been killed by men in Australia since the beginning of the year.

For people seeking to leave abusive situations, there are often insuperable barriers such as the threat of increased violence upon separation, and financial difficulties.

What is often left out of the public discourse is how people may choose to stay in dangerous situations for fear of having to leave their pet, or pets, behind.

These pets are beloved family members; a source of companionship, comfort and suppport in volatile and abusive environments.

Statistics from the RSPCA show that up to 85 percent of people[1] will delay seeking refuge as they fear harm to their animals if they do so.

I am heartened to know that Safe Pets Safe Families, alongside other organisations such as the RSPCA SA, of which I am patron, are offering support to address this very problem.

In founding Safe Pets and Safe Families after her own experience with losing pets as a result of domestic violence, Jennifer Howard has demonstrated extraordinary vision and strength.

As CEO, she has grown the organisation substantially over 10 years, with a focus on keeping people and pets together in times of crisis, including domestic violence but also homelessness, mental illness, or medical emergency.

I am pleased to see the holistic approach taken by Safe Pets Safe Families in the broad range of services it now provides, including foster care, animal transport, pet food banks in metropolitan and rural areas, counselling and veterinary support.

This could not have been done without all of you – the Safe Pets Safe Families community.

To business supporters and private donors, volunteers, foster carers, vets and vet nurses – thank you.

Your efforts are a shining example of this year’s National Volunteer Week theme, ‘Something for Everyone’.

By bringing your unique talents and capabilities to the table, you have supported more than 1300 people and 3000 animals to be safe and to be together.

Your pet food bank has distributed approximately 500,000 meals, and your free pop-up vet service clinic has provided care to more than 900 pets.

The size of your community, with approximately 500 volunteers, is testament to the generosity of South Australians in supporting people and animals in need.

I was impressed to learn of the length of service of some of your volunteers and business supporters, some of whom have been with you since day one.

To the foster carers in the room who have looked after more than 100 pets, and the volunteers who do up to 250 animal transports per month – this is an extraordinary commitment, and I thank you sincerely.

I am heartened by the important work all of you are doing for our community.


For people experiencing disadvantage, marginalisation and isolation, connection with their pet can be the single-most important relationship they have.

I thank Safe Pets Safe Families for helping to maintain this relationship for so many South Australians over the past decade.

Your care and compassion are vital as we work towards a world where all South Australians and their pets can be safe, healthy, and together.

[1] https://www.rspcasa.org.au/safe-kennels-project/ (video)

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