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GRV Update Q&A

Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) continues to work hard to restore public confidence in the sport. GRV understands that some members can feel they are not up to date with the latest information. Below is an update on some on some of the more common queries we have been receiving regarding this matter.

What is the status of the GRV investigations?

GRV understands the desire for the investigations to swiftly conclude. Stewards are working through the investigations and are doing so within legal frameworks.

Below is an update on the Stewards investigation.

  • We have reviewed over 10 hours of raw footage regarding live baiting allegations that took place at the Tooradin Trial Track supplied by the Racing Integrity Commissioner (RIC), in conjunction with GRV legal counsel
  • We have identified 15 registered persons and opened investigations into their actions accordingly
  • We have identified further persons of interest and are undertaking investigations into their activities
  • We are continuing to review greyhounds depicted in the footage and are undertaking investigations into those greyhounds identified
  • We are continuing to assist and work closely with the RSPCA on aspects of its investigation
  • We have provided an opportunity for all suspended persons to view the evidence from the Tooradin Trial Track and cooperate with the investigation
  • We are preparing cases against the suspended persons
  • We have issued Notices of Inquiry to each of the suspended persons to appear before GRV Stewards and those Inquiries are scheduled to run until early April 2015, after which time charges will be considered
  • There are complexities involved with concurrent civil and criminal investigations being undertaken by different regulators. Whilst time consuming and at times frustrating to reconcile, we are working through them as quickly as possible.
  • We are open to receiving any further information that members of the public and the greyhound racing community wish to provide regarding allegations of live baiting or wrongdoing by any registered person

What is GRV doing about its failure to detect live-baiting?

The Board has set about examining and rectifying how GRV did not detect and eradicate such behaviours and no action is off limits in regard to this matter. There have been many reasons raised as to why this practice was not detected, but irrespective of their validity there can be no excuses for allowing an environment where this occurred and went undetected.

GRV has met with the Office of Racing a number of times to discuss ways to increase the powers of our stewards and investigations unit and improve our ability to enforce rules. Changes are being sought through amendments to the Racing Act and relationship to POCTA laws – the best approach is still being discussed. The best-case timetable is for a Draft Bill in June 2015 followed by legislation being passed by year end. There will be changes to the rules that flow from any legislative amendments.

Much work needs to be done to establish a culture and environment in this industry where people feel comfortable and compelled to report such behaviours. Clearly this environment does not exist currently.

Changes to trial tracks and the registration conditions are a priority and greater understanding of the roles participants play in the rearing, training and education of greyhounds is being undertaken to identify areas of concern. A broader framework of regulation will need to be developed following this to ensure practices like this are able to be detected and eradicated.

What is the status of the Racing Integrity Commissioner’s investigation?

The Racing Integrity Commissioner (RIC) handed down his interim report into live baiting at the Tooradin Trail Track in Victoria recently. The report makes a number of recommendations relating to resourcing, powers, and trial track standards. The Board accepted all six recommendations that were suggested by Sal Perna and below is an update on the work being done regarding these matters:

Recommendation 1

‘The increase of powers for animal welfare, compliance and education and integrity staff at GRV’

  • GRV has met with the Office of Racing a number of times
  • Increased powers are being sought through amendments to the Racing Act and relationship to POCTA laws – the best approach is still being discussed.
  • Surveillance powers are a key component of discussions with the Office of Racing
  • Best Timetable: Draft Bill June 2015, legislation passed by year end

Recommendation 2

That GRV introduce a regulatory framework for any premises or person involved in the education, breaking in, and training of greyhounds’

  • GRV’s objective is to have all Greyhounds under the care of a Registered Participant at all times during their lifecycle, unless retired as a pet.
  • GRV is currently in the process of defining the roles of all 13,000+ registered persons and also identifying all facilities used to train greyhounds on all registered properties.

Recommendation 3

‘The initiating of a review and trial by GRV of alternate methods to assist Greyhounds to consistently chase the lure and perform at their best e.g. ‘run on’ and ‘hoop’ lures’

  • GRV has been researching types of lures and lure arms as well as the concept of a follow on lure that allows greyhounds to finish ‘on the lure’ instead of in a catching pen – thus giving them a reward –and that research is continuing with input from industry participants.
  • Interstate and international data also being reviewed to ensure fact-based decision making takes place.

Recommendation 4

‘That GRV amend the rules of racing so only lures made of synthetic or artificial materials can be used’

  • This was mandated as a matter of policy in Victoria immediately following the live baiting expose [Note: legally sourced, humanely euthanized dead animals were able to be used prior to this]
  • GRV will introduce this policy as a rule as soon as possible, along with a package of other reforms surrounding trial tracks and registration, bull rings and other equipment used at training facilities.
  • Other rules changes will be made, in time, to support legislative changes.

Recommendation 5

‘That GRV introduce requirements that a) all trainers that are subject of a suspension or disqualification must obtain prior approval from the Chief Steward or his delegate before being permitted to transfer their greyhounds to another registered person b) to prohibit the transfer of greyhounds from a suspended or disqualified person to a relative, spouse of legally defined partner, and c) that any suspension of a registered person also apply to that person’s property or properties’

  • GRV have introduced rules giving it greater control of the transfer of greyhounds between persons living at the same address and also rules that allow GRV to suspend a property, not just a person.
  • National Rules will be amended to ensure that transfer of ownership or trainership of a greyhound from a person who is disqualified, warned off, suspended or a defaulter is to be approved in writing by the Chief Steward.

Recommendation 6

‘That GRV initiate formalized agreements/Memoranda of Understanding with relevant animal welfare groups. Such agreements to include arrangements for the exchange of information and immediate reporting of alleged and suspected animal cruelty related issues in the Greyhound industry to relevant authorities’

  • GRV has extended invitations to groups concerned over animal cruelty in the industry to meet and discuss their ideas and suggestions.
  • GRV would welcome the opportunity to work with them to detect animal cruelty; it has no place in the greyhound racing industry.
  • It goes without saying also that as soon as anyone has evidence of animal cruelty in the greyhound racing industry they should pass it onto GRV immediately.
  • GRV will be proposing draft formal agreements in the near future.

Submissions to the RIC are open until 10 April with the final report to be handed down on 30 April. Again, GRV encourages anyone with evidence of illegal activities to please contact the RIC immediately so your evidence can be taken into consideration.

What is the status of the Chief Veterinary Officer’s investigation?

GRV staff are also fully cooperating with an investigation by Dr Charles Milne, Victoria’s Chief Veterinary Officer, into animal welfare in the greyhound racing industry.  The Chief Vet’s final report is also due to be handed down in April.

What changes have GRV made since this evidence was presented?

GRV has already made significant and lasting changes to the Victorian greyhound racing industry as a result of this matter. Below is a snapshot of activities undertaken so far:

  • GRV staff are cooperating fully with the Racing Integrity Commissioner and the Chief Veterinary Officer throughout their investigations and assisting the RSPCA in advancing their cases.
  • GRV is the process of recruiting a number of new integrity staff to bolster investigative and enforcement capabilities.
  • Frequent discussions with the government have been had to discuss increasing GRV’s powers to investigate and enforce rule breaches.
  • GRV is working toward the introduction of the latest surveillance technology to assist with detection of improper activities.
  • GRV has made local rule changes in order to close loopholes within existing rules to prevent suspended persons transferring greyhounds to a person residing at the same property.
  • Local rule changes have also been made to give GRV the power to suspend not only a registered person but a property where greyhounds are trained.
  • GRV is working with all members of Greyhounds Australasia with a view of implementing any rule changes on a national basis.
  • Significant work has been undertaken on the role racetracks can play in the development of greyhound chasing abilities including hoop lure arm and follow on lure trials. This work is being conducted in conjunction with industry participants to determine the most effective outcomes.

In addition to these operational activities, the GRV Board chose to resign on March 11. The resignation of the Board was done in the interest of clearing the way for GRV and the Victorian government to continue to restore public confidence in the sport.

GRV’s new Board, as appointed by Minister for Racing Martin Pakula, consists of:

  • Ray Gunston (Chairman), former CFO of Tatts Group and former interim CEO of the Essendon Football Club.
  • Ken Lay, former Chief Commissioner of the Victoria Police
  • Judith Bornstein, a well-respected barrister and former Commissioner of the Industrial Relations Commission of Victoria.

GRV’s new Board is a strong one. Ken Lay has extensive change management experience and success in restoring public trust in authorities throughout his time at the Victoria Police. Judith Bornstein has experience with industrial relations matters in the greyhound racing industry and tremendous legal expertise. Combined with Ray Gunston’s broad background and their extensive governance experience they look forward to ensuring that GRV and the greyhound industry come out of this situation with a much better culture and future.

The new Board members will be making themselves available to discuss their approach with industry participants at a series of forums around Victoria in coming weeks. Details will be provided as soon as possible and all participants are encouraged to attend.

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