Meet Teri Doran, the first year uni student re-igniting the Animal Justice Party society at Deakin University.
“We’re not a big group as of yet,” says Miss Doran. “We’ve only been a club for about a month, so we’ve got 15 members so far, so I wouldn’t say we’re big but I’m definitely hoping to lure some people in with our first event.”
The Deakin Animal Justice Party will be hosting a movie night at Deakin University’s Waterfront campus in Geelong on September 14 at 6.30pm, to raise awareness of animal exploitation by screening the Netflix Original film Okja.
“I think movies are a good way to educate people because people love to sit down and watch a movie, and it’s going to be all about educating people about the animal industry and the different areas [animals] are exploited in,” says Miss Doran.
As a child Miss Doran always had an affinity for animals and struggled with the reality of her meat-based diet.
“Being young and growing up I have always loved animals and I’ve always wondered ‘why do I eat them if I love them so much? I wouldn’t want to hurt them myself so why do I eat them?’,” says Miss Doran.
“There’s a man in Geelong here called Con, he’s known as ‘Con the con-man’, so we first got introduced to him when my cat died, and we went to him because he was selling cats,” says Miss Doran. “We went there and when I held this little cat I could just feel every bone on her and I was just looking at Mum thinking ‘what’s wrong with her?'”
After taking the kitten home, Miss Doran was distraught to see the animal become extremely unwell.
“She developed ringworm, she had cat flu, she had diarrhea, she wasn’t eating and our vet said she was going to die within two days,” says Miss Doran.
After caring for the kitten Miss Doran and her mother wanted to know why their new pet was so unwell.
The pair gathered material and took it to the RSPCA and police. A man has now been charged with 15 criminal offences, including eight counts of selling an unfit animal, and two counts each of obtaining property by deception and using a false document.
After getting assistance from Animal Justice Party Western Regional leader Andy Meddick, Miss Doran was inspired to find out more about animal justice.
“Once we spoke to Andy, because he was helping Mum with this [the sick kittens case], I was listening to him talk and I was thinking ‘wow what a fantastic guy I want to know what he does and how he got to where he is now’, so I decided to have a chat with him afterwards about his career and everything he does in life because he advocates so much for animals and he is so brilliant,” says Miss Doran.
Mr Meddick posed a difficult question to Miss Doran a year ago resulting in her becoming vegan.
“He said ‘can I ask you something?’ and I said ‘okay sure’, and I feel like I knew what he was going to ask me because I just felt so much guilt instantly and he asked ‘do you eat meat, do you have milk?’ and thought ‘oh no I do’”, says Miss Doran.
“It’s not like he pushed me into doing it he just made me wake up to what I was doing, how could I go and want to advocate for animals and try to stop factory farming when I supported it by buying the product off the shelf.”
“It’s important to keep people aware because a lot of people don’t actually know what happens in those industries and in factories, and they don’t know how the leather is made or where they get their fur from on their coat,” says Miss Doran.
“It’s really important to keep educating everyone about food, fashion, makeup and what to be aware of in all areas,” she says.
Miss Doran says she hopes the Animal Justice Party will be successful in the 2018 state election in November and wants to educate students at Deakin University on the importance of politics in Australia.
“The reason why our animals are exploited in the first place is because of the laws that govern it [animal agriculture], that are making it OK to do those things,” says Miss Doran. “So, it’s important to educate people on politics so they vote, because people think ‘politics they are so boring’ but they’re actually so important, it’s what makes this country do what it does.”
Miss Doran hopes that students will vote for the Animal Justice Party and other parties with stakes in environmental and animal rights issues.
“I wouldn’t really suggest liberal because they aren’t really pro animals, so we would educate them [students] and suggest voting for Labour because they’re more inclined to introduce stricter protection laws for animals,” she says.
The Animal Justice Party promises to end duck shooting, stop greyhound racing, ban jumps racing, achieve a total ban on puppy farms, free hens from battery cages and establish an Independent Office of Animal Welfare.
Miss Doran urges students to be more aware of the impact of their actions.
“I advise all students at Deakin to be more aware of their actions and what they are doing to the world around them, whether that’s the environment, animals or other humans. Think about what your using, is it all plastic? Think about where you’re getting your products from, who is it affecting and how would you feel if you were on the other end and somebody was buying your fate?,” she says.