The industry body, Shearing Contractors Association of Australia, says shearers abusing sheep is a serious issue for the industry.
Spokesperson for the group, Jason Letchford, says many contractors have witnessed sheep being hit at some stage, but reports of abuse are decreasing.
“I’m sure every shearing contractor has seen it, has probably had to experience disciplining someone or coaching them through it, working through it. But it’s certainly not something that is frequently talked about or on our radar.
“I’m not trying to play the issue down, but it’s not dissimilar to any behavioural problems that you have in the workplace,” he said.
Mr Letchford says he has witnessed shearers hurting sheep first hand.
“I’ve seen what you’re talking about. I’m not going to hide from it. But it’s an isolated thing. If you’re an employer, you don’t want that person in your shearing team for long,” he said.
When asked if shearers hurting sheep could be linked to illegal drug use, Mr Letchford said “connecting the two is a new idea, but it’s not a long bow to draw, in the sense that we know that the industry does have an issue with drugs”.
“I’m not saying it’s (drug use) is not being addressed,” he said.
“The industry has no more an issue with drugs than society does and other industries. We’re not isolated in our problem. We’re all aware that we need to take that stuff seriously.”