About this Report


The 2014 report demonstrates our commitment

The Australian dairy industry has taken a cohesive, whole-of-industry approach to sustainability. In 2012, the industry endorsed the Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Framework, identifying priority areas, goals and objectives.

Our commitment is to report annually on our progress against the Framework.

This Progress Report builds on the first report in 2013 by focusing on the industry’s sustainability activities during 2014. It demonstrates our commitment to the Framework, our principles of transparency and accountability, our progress against the goals and targets of the

Framework and where we need to continue to do more.

Further, it provides evidence that the dairy industry is committed to delivering better outcomes for the community and the environment, and demonstrates the benefits of working together to help create shared value for our industry, our customers and the community.



Materiality test underlines our strategic approach

Defining materiality is critical to supporting an appropriate strategic approach to sustainability. Material issues are defined as those that could make a major difference to industry’s performance.

Material information provides a basis for us to make sound judgements about the things that matter and take actions to influence our performance. However, there is no clear threshold of legal, financial or reputational liability below which any organisation can safely say ‘that is not our problem’. Emerging issues may be contested and difficult to measure, but they can be early signs of a growing risk or opportunity.

Through a materiality assessment, an organisation is able to identify the issues on which it should place greatest focus and which are more peripheral at a particular point in time. A focus on material issues will enable the development of sustainability strategies and initiatives that are more relevant, more credible and more user-friendly. This will, in turn, enable us to better inform our markets, stakeholders and society on our sustainability matters.

In 2014, a review of the material issues for the Australian dairy industry during the past 12 months was undertaken. This review consisted of a limited materiality assessment (or refresh) to test the currency of the issues used to inform the development of the original Framework.

As a “living strategy”, it is important that the issues included reflect national industry sentiments, increasing stakeholder expectations and the maturing sustainability agenda of the industry globally. The review looked at changes in material issues for the Australian dairy industry during the past 12 months, based on a desktop media scan and review of DA’s media monitoring tools (e.g. Dairy Monitor). It is designed to refresh and enhance the material issues piece conducted by Net Balance in 2011, and to ensure that the Framework content areas and 2014 Interim report remain relevant against shifts in the landscape over the past 12 months.

Findings of the materiality and media review include:

• No major shift in the focus of media coverage.

• Coverage retains a ‘market’ focus.

• Animal welfare issues maintain materiality: animal welfare issues continue to resonate in the media.

• Environmental issues receive little attention.

The Consultative Forum was also used to test the current validity of the issues the industry is addressing and if anything has changed that the industry needs to be aware of and that may influence the approach being taken. The Forum met twice during 2014. 



Our approach to reporting future progress

Whatever form progress reporting against the Framework adopts, it will be considered alongside other types of sustainability reporting in and of the dairy industry. Current reporting practice in the industry can be classified by scope and boundary.


1. Individual dairy manufacturers and their sustainability, environmental or annual reports. The issues that such companies report on include a range of social, environmental and economic issues and indicators which are also reflected in the Framework. In some cases the metrics used in the Framework and by processors, such as greenhouse gas emissions intensity and safety, are identical. However, the boundary of reporting is both narrowed by the coverage of only part of the Australian dairy industry reflected by that company, and broadened by the inclusion of non-dairy activities (e.g. Lion) and off shore manufacturing (e.g. Fonterra).

2. Reporting by the Dairy Manufacturer’s Sustainability Council (DMSC) includes approximately 85% of Australia’s milk production by volume. The scope of the report is currently limited to environmental performance, specifically energy, greenhouse gas emissions, water, waste and chemicals. The boundary is also a subset of national milk production. However, reporting by the DMSC provides a good vehicle for smaller manufacturers to participate in transparency and disclosure initiatives in which they may not otherwise invest at this stage of the industry’s development in sustainability.

3. Progress reporting against the Framework includes a broad range of environmental, social and economic issues and draws on both on-farm and manufacturer data, but chiefly at the program level. The boundary is the national dairy industry as a whole.

It is also important to note that while some of these reporting vehicles use principles and standards, such as the Global Reporting Initiative, they are not applied consistently or to the same level.

While there is a temptation to reconcile or rationalise the types of reporting, all three currently play a role in communicating the sector’s sustainability issues and performance.

They are likely to have different audiences and also serve as drivers for the development of metrics, programs and approaches among manufacturers and farmers as the sector’s sustainability agenda evolves. While duplication and unnecessary reporting burdens should be avoided, such reporting practices in the sector are relatively immature when compared with, for example, the mining industry.

At this stage, the most appropriate course is to make clear the differences between the reporting approaches, their respective boundaries, purposes and audiences.

This 2014 Report is an interim report and should be considered in conjunction with the 2012 Framework and the 2013 Progress Report. The next Report will be provided at the end of 2015.


Members of the sustainability Consultative Forum

Carol Adams, Integrated Horizons

Elvis Amair, Bega Cheese

Angela Avery, Department of Environment & Primary Industries (VIC)

Pip Band, Meat & Livestock Australia

Meredith Banks, Lion

David Barr, Dairy Manufacturers Sustainability Council

David Basham, South Australian Dairyfarmers Association

Patten Bridge, Bridge Logic

Sue Brumby, National Centre for Farmer Health

Laurie Buys, Queensland University of Technology

Seona Candy, Sustainable Food Systems Univ of Melb

Irene Clarke, Australian Dairy Farmers

Lisa Cotter, Cattle Council of Australia

Sasha Courville, National Australia Bank

Jim Cudmore, Red Meat Advisory Council

Carlene Dowie, Fairfax Media

Guy Fitzhardinge, Beef Industry

Alexandra Gartmann, Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

Chris Griffin, Chair

Jackie Healing, Coles

Jack Holden, Fonterra

Felicity Kelly, Devondale Murray Goulburn

Amanda Lee, Queensland University of Technology

Sarah Lieschke, Department of Agriculture

Clare Luehman, Incitec Pivot Ltd

Angela McClowry, Australian Food and Grocery Council

Ian McConnel, World Wildlife Foundation

John McKillop, Sustainable Investment in Ag Fund

Julia Marget, Mondelez (Kraft)

Karensa Menzies, Department of Environment & Primary Industries (VIC)

Ingrid Messne,r Authentic Values

Heather Neil, RSPCA Australia

Sonia Oke, Conservation Volunteers

Rose Philipzen, Moxey Farms

Mario Solomon, Unilever

Adrian Stock, Nestlé Australia Ltd

Paul Sinclair, Australian Conservation Foundation

Peter Stahle, Australian Dairy Products Federation

Mark Thomas, CSIRO Sustainable Agriculture Flagship

Sylvia Vagg, National Centre for Dairy Education Australia

Philip Wright, St James Ethics Centre

Melissa Cameron, Dairy Australia

Robin Condron, Dairy Australia

Helen Dornom, Dairy Australia

Amy Fay, Dairy Australia

Shane Hellwege, Dairy Australia

Isabel MacNeill, Dairy Australia

Charlie McElhone, Dairy Australia

Chris Murphy, Dairy Australia

Mark Pearce, Dairy Australia

Catherine Phelps, Dairy Australia

Kelly Ward, Dairy Australia

Neil van Buuren, Dairy Australia


Members of the sustainability Steering Committee

Elvis Amair, Bega Cheese

Meredith Banks, Lion

David Basham, South Australian Dairy Farmers Association

Irene Clarke, Australian Dairy Farmers

Helen Dornom, Dairy Australia

Chris Griffin, Chair

Felicity Kelly, Devondale Murray Goulburn

Jack Holden, Fonterra

Rose Philipzen, Moxey Farms

Peter Stahle, Australian Dairy Products Federation

Mark Pearce, Dairy Australia



Mark Paterson, Currie Communications

Gabrielle Sheehan, Currie Communications

Robyn Leeson, NetBalance (now Ernst & Young)

Amanda Nuttall, NetBalance (now Ernst & Young)

Brendan Lim, NetBalance (now Ernst & Young)




Animal Husbandry Survey (AHS)

Conducted every two years with Australian dairy farmers to foster and encourage responsible animal husbandry, and to monitor performance in key priority areas. While self-reported, survey results are validated through independent mechanisms (e.g. focus groups). Funded by Dairy Australia, the most recent survey was conducted in October 2014 and surveyed over 400 dairy farmers nationally.

Australian Milk Residue Analysis (AMRA) survey

This survey is an independent, national, government-coordinated monitoring program for potential agricultural and veterinary chemical residues, and environmental contaminants in the Australian milk supply. The Survey provides evidence that the Australian dairy industry’s food safety system and quality assurance programs effectively manage the food safety and trade related risks associated with the use of agvet chemicals. The Survey also meets the export requirements of the Department of Agriculture under the Export Control (Milk and Milk Products) Orders 2005 and provides assurance to importing countries that Australian dairy commodities comply with importing country requirements with respect to managing the risks from the use of agvet chemicals.


Dairy Monitor Survey – (DM 2014)

Annual tracking survey conducted amongst 1,600 metro and regional respondents to gauge community perceptions of dairy foods and the dairy industry and their dairy consumption behaviour. It covers a range of industry perceptions from animal welfare through to economic, environmental and social impacts of the industry from non-dairy members of the community. It is conducted in March/April each year. The survey is funded by Dairy Australia, but conducted by an independent organisation.

Survey participants are asked to rate their responses from 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 5 (Strongly Agree). Ratings of 4 and 5 are deemed to be agree, ratings of 3 are deened to be neutral and ratings of 1 and 2 are deemed to disagree. 

Dairying for Tomorrow (DfT) survey

A survey currently conducted every six years amongst 800 dairy farmers nationally to determine key issues facing farmers in relation to accessing and managing natural resources. It covers aspects such as irrigation water access, fertiliser and effluent management, waterways and native vegetation. As such it provides indicators of on farm practice change over time. The survey is funded by Dairy Australia, but conducted by an independent organisation. It was last conducted in 2012.


National Dairy Farmer Survey (NDFS)

A bi-annual survey conducted amongst 1,400 dairy farmers nationally (n=1,000 for main survey and n=400 for supplementary survey) to understand their current views of the industry, the challenges they are facing and the impact of these on their businesses. It also provides information on production, herd sizes and future intentions. The main survey is conducted in February each year and a smaller supplementary survey takes place in August each year amongst a portion of respondents interviewed in the main survey. The survey is funded by Dairy Australia, but conducted by an independent organisation.


The Power of People on Australian Dairy Farms Survey (POP) 2014

This independent telephone survey of 400 dairy farmers was conducted for the first time in 2014. It was complemented by an online forum.