Animal Welfare and Ethics

JCU recognises the significant role animals play in the progression of human knowledge. JCU research projects use animals only when their use is justified and when no other alternatives are available.

Activities involving animals must only be conducted in line with University policy, compliance with relevant legislation and after approval by JCU’s Animal Ethics Committee (AEC). Approvals are only issued if the potential benefits of the work are likely to outweigh the effects on the animals concerned.

The University upholds the principles of reduction, refinement and replacement. Ethical use, appropriate care and respect for animals involved are central to the University’s policy and procedure framework.

James Cook University is committed to:

  • Promoting a culture of respect and ethical conduct amongst its staff and students.
  • Ensuring the health and wellbeing of all animals on University property or used by its staff for scientific or teaching purposes. The University will achieve this through the provision of the best accommodation possible, high level of care and husbandry practices, ensuring those using and caring for animals are highly skilled and trained in their roles, and by promoting the principles of the 3Rs.
  • Establishing a well-resourced and independent Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) to oversee animal use and provide advice on matters regarding animals.  All use of animals for scientific purposes must be approved by the AEC and all staff or students working with animals must be approved to do so.
  • Employing adequate numbers of highly skilled and qualified investigators, technical staff, facility managers and animal care staff.
  • Employing an Animal Welfare Officer to work with the AEC, facility managers, investigators and other staff and provide advice on matters of animal health and wellbeing and ensure compliance with the appropriate legislation, codes and policies.
  • Ensuring all those working with animals are knowledgeable in the legal requirements and the Code as well as competent in their roles and/or under the direct supervision of a competent person.

JCU students or staff may abstain from participating in animal practicals or classes involving animals. If you would like to abstain from animal work, you should first speak with the coordinator of the class. If you are not happy with the response, you can contact the JCU Connect Animal Welfare and Ethics team on the details below.

Concerns, complaints and feedback about the treatment of animals at JCU are taken seriously and will be thoroughly investigated with action taken if proven.

If you have an enquiry, concern or complaint about any of the following, you may contact the Animal Welfare Officer directly for confidential advice, discuss the concern or lodge a complaint.

  • An animal being held on the property of the University or an external property or field work site.
  • The activities or behaviour of a researcher, teacher or other staff member.
  • The activities of a person or group that may affect or interfere with animal welfare, health or the progress of a research or teaching project.

All concerns and complaints will be followed up promptly and confidentially, although at times, there might be a need to identify the complainant for procedural fairness.

The Animal Welfare Officer and AEC follow the University’s investigation and complaint procedures to ensure all parties are heard and the matter is dealt with effectively. Anonymous complaints will also be investigated, however, the ability to investigate thoroughly may be affected by not being able to clarify certain facts with the original complainant.

If you receive a complaint about your work with animals, please refer it to the JCU Connect Animal Welfare and Ethics team to ensure the complaint is dealt with and to prevent unnecessary escalation.

JCU's Animal Ethics Committee's primary role is to protect the welfare of animals used in research and teaching and ensure that their use is justified and scientifically worthwhile.

View the AEC Application Process.

Animal Ethics Committee Chair

Professor Lin Schwarzkopf
College of Marine & Environmental Sciences
James Cook University
Phone: (07) 4781 5467

Contact the JCU Connect Animal Welfare and Ethics team

Visit the JCU Connect Ethics team on level 3 in The Science Place (Townsville) or in the Sir Robert Norman Building E2, Room 102C (Cairns).

General enquiries:

Photo of Nicole Little

Nicole Little

Animal Ethics Officer