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Activists Targeting Kids: 'Out of Touch' and 'Out of Line'

16 May 2006

Undertakings by animal rights group Voiceless that its controversial Animal Club program and website – which targets 3,000,000 children in 9,000 primary and secondary schools across Australia – would consider withdrawing links to radical adult-like websites, have proven disingenuous.

“Last week, Brian Sherman (founder of Voiceless) advised me he would look at removing the links to the Animal Liberation, PETA and other websites from his Animal Club website, accepting they may be inappropriate for children,” Mr Corish said. “Today, children are still being directed to those same websites. The direct ‘links’ have gone, but the web addresses for children to follow remain.

“It’s disappointing that Voiceless is engaged in a game of charades where the interests of children are concerned. Having failed to get any traction with mums and dads for their anti-meat agenda, they are now trying to recruit kids.

“Australian farmers have no gripe with animal ethics being discussed in the classroom. In fact, we would support any genuine move to stimulate informed discussion and debate, in a balanced program, focused on animal welfare. The disturbing thing is the Animal Club website and promotional program aims to indoctrinate children with ideological dogma and a clear goal of instilling a philosophical outcome in children.

“References on the website pose misleading information in terms easily accepted by children and then directs them to more adult-like websites protesting anything to do with meat consumption or production. While a few industry sites have since been added, this hardly equates to balance.

“Worse than the links, scratch the surface of Animal Club and a disturbing path to herd children becomes evident, attempting to mould their thoughts and even advises them to become vegetarians (as per the Animal Club online interview with actress and Animal Club ambassador, Abbie Cornish).

“Children are directed from the Animal Club website to, predominantly, animal rights groups such as Animal Liberation (who in recent rowdy protests in Brisbane proclaimed “Meat is Murder”), and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – roundly denounced as irresponsible).

“The NFF has been advised that State Education Departments will not endorse or authorise the Animal Club program, but that individual schools can adopt it. We have written to all State Education Ministers, as well as all federal MPs and Senators, advising them of our concerns.

“While we have been assured by many schools that “school principals and teachers would take one look at this material and not have a bar of it”, our concern is that other schools may not be as vigilant.”

The Animal Club program seeks to enlist schools in establishing Animal Clubs and encourages teachers to use the Animal Club website (www.animalclub.org.au) as a resource for learning, while also placing schools in the running to win $5,000 from Lush Cosmetics.

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250.

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