Animal research ethics

Teaching programs as well as research projects at Federation University Australia and Federation Training involving animals must not commence without prior written approval from the Federation University Animal Ethics Committee, for the following reasons:

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') requires that institutions conducting research involving animals comply with the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes 2013 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Code') and establish an Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) to oversee the conduct of the institution's experimentation activities.

The Act requires that the use of animals for Scientific Procedures be authorised by a Scientific Procedures licence issued by the Head of the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR), and administered through the Licensing and Audit Branch as the licensing authority.

These legislative requirements specify that an AEC must verify that the use of animals for research or teaching is justified and adheres to the principles of Replacement, Reduction and Refinement (the 3R's)

All fields of science are covered by DEDJTR licensing requirements, including but not limited to medical, dental, veterinary, agricultural, behavioural, ecological, pest management and biological sciences. All sectors operating in Victoria must comply, including private company, government, university, hospital, research institute, TAFE, school, volunteer organisations, and independent individuals.

Ethics clearance is required if the proposed scientific project involves any

  • Live non-human vertebrate including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, encompassing domestic animals, purpose-bred animals, livestock and wildlife
  • Live prenatal or pre-hatched creatures in the last half of gestation, for example a mammalian or reptilian foetus, pre-hatched avian, mammalian or reptilian young and live marsupial young
  • Cephalopod invertebrates such as octopus, squid, cuttlefish and nautilus

Each person involved in the care and use of animals for scientific purposes must consider the governing principles of the code to their specific circumstance:

  • Use animals only when justified
  • Support the well-being of animals
  • Avoid or minimise harm, including pain and distress, to animals
  • Apply high standards of scientific integrity
  • Apply replacement, reduction and refinement (the 3Rs) at all stages
  • Accept responsibilities

Federation University and Federation Training animal ethics applications must be signed by all participants in the program/project, then reviewed by either the relevant Head of School, Deputy Head of School, Associate Dean Research (ADR) or School Ethics Coordinator who deem the project is of merit to be assessed by the AEC; appropriate facilities are available (if required) and the project will be supported by the relevant faculty in accordance with requirements of the Act, the Code and DEDJTR licencing requirements.

The authorised original hard copy and an electronic version of the application are to be received by the Ethics Office to complete the application process.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Should your proposed animal ethics project include any GMO product, refer to the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) website for further information.

In Australia, all dealings with live and viable genetically modified organisms (GMOs), including import, are illegal unless authorised under the Gene Technology Act.

Every dealing with a GMO will need to be licensed by the Regulator (Office of Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR)) unless the dealing is an exempt dealing, a notifiable low risk dealings (NLRD) or on the Register of GMOs.

Both IBC and AEC approval will be required prior to commencement of any Animal Ethics project using GMO product.