Our Story

The RSPCA’s history in Australia dates back to 1871, when a public meeting to discuss the ill treatment of horses in Victoria led to the formation of Australia’s first Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Following the establishment of a Society in Victoria, other states soon followed:

  • New South Wales in 1873;
  • South Australia in 1875;
  • Tasmania in 1878;
  • Queensland in 1883;
  • Western Australia in 1892;
  • The ACT in 1955; and
  • The Northern Territory in 1965.

From the 1920s, SPCAs were given the Royal Warrant, becoming known as Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

In 1965, an informal meeting of all Societies took place in Melbourne. From this, Societies agreed to meet once every two years, on a rotational basis, to discuss mutual problems.

In 1980, the eight RSPCA societies met in Melbourne and agreed to form a national Society to speak with one voice on policy matters, and to offer advice to the Federal Government on national animal welfare issues. Following this, the first meeting of RSPCA Australia was held in 1981.

Since its initial movement in 1871, the RSPCA has fought relentlessly against animal cruelty. It has witnessed dramatic and positive change in the way that animals are treated within our society and has seen incremental change in legislation governing animal welfare.

The RSPCA is an organisation created by the community and driven by strong community support. Without public backing the RSPCA would cease to function and without the services of the RSPCA the future for thousands of Australian animals would look bleak.

In 2021, the RSPCA is one of Australia’s longest-standing, most loved and trusted charities. We make a difference to the lives of thousands of animals every year and advocate for many thousands more. We recognise there is so much more to be done to end animal cruelty, which is why we use our 150th year not only to reflect on what we’ve been able to achieve, but to look forward to the future and to what comes next.