RSPCA welcomes much-deserved recognition of Chief Scientist as a Member of the Order of Australia

The RSPCA in Australia is thrilled to congratulate its Chief Scientist and Strategy Officer Dr Bidda Jones on her appointment as a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia in recognition of her significant service to animal welfare science and advocacy.

Expressing gratitude for the recognition, Dr Jones also said she was delighted to see the important role of science in animal welfare acknowledged at this high level.

“Put simply, our work - animal welfare science - is all about understanding how sentient animals experience their environment and working out how we can make that experience as positive as possible. Once people understand what animals need, they’re enabled to treat them better,” said Dr Jones.

“Since I started working for the RSPCA, our advocacy efforts have helped grow the public’s understanding that animal welfare is not just about providing the basics - like food, water, shelter and vet care – but also about making sure animals in our care have good lives, filled with interesting experiences and the opportunity for choice in how to spend their time.”

“But of course, there remains much work to do. The key issue that comes to mind is our ongoing advocacy for millions of Australia’s layer hens. I wrote my first scientific report for the RSPCA on the chronic frustration of hens confined in barren battery cages in 1998. It’s taken over 20 years of intense advocacy and campaigning to reach the point, just this year, where we have the opportunity to finally legislate against this archaic housing system. All we need now is for state and territory Ministers to embrace the science, meet the public’s expectations and back this phase out.”

“I’m humbled and grateful for this appreciation of my work, but finally achieving that goal this year will be better than any award or recognition,” said Dr Jones. 

In congratulating Dr Jones on this exceptional achievement, RSPCA Australia CEO Richard Mussell said, “The RSPCA has grown to become, not only one of the most loved and trusted charities in the country, but the most authoritative voice in animal welfare advocacy and highly respected by government and industry – and that is due in great part to Bidda’s work, and the work of the team she leads,”.

“Bidda had stepped up to temporarily fill the role of CEO before I commenced with the RSPCA, and in my relatively short time of 18 months with the organisation, Bidda’s astute advice and knowledge based on her extensive experience has been incredibly valuable to me.”

“I know how hard Bidda has worked to achieve what she has, and so on both a personal and professional level, I’m thrilled to see her work receive this much-deserved recognition. And like Bidda, I’m also heartened to see animal welfare science and advocacy rightly featuring in the list of Queen’s Birthday Honours,” he said.

Dr Jones began working for RSPCA Australia in 1996, just a few weeks after arriving in Australia from the UK. A graduate of the Universities of Sheffield and London, Bidda is an Honorary Associate of the University of Sydney School of Veterinary Science and continues to collaborate and publish research papers on a range of topics.

Dr Jones has been a leader in the RSPCA’s successful efforts to expand its national influence by building its expertise in animal welfare science, to support its already-thriving engagement and campaign activities. She was intrinsic to the establishment of a network of RSPCA scientific officers around the country, all using an evidence-based approach to improve the lives of animals.

Dr Jones was also instrumental in exposing the inhumane slaughter of Australian cattle in Indonesia, which led to the Gold Walkley Award-winning ABC Four Corners program, A Bloody Business in 2011. Together with her partner, Julian Davies, in 2016 she wrote Backlash: Australia’s conflict of values over live exports.