AEC Application Process

The following information outlines the AEC submission process and provides information that aims to assist you with the process, including what activities need AEC approval, advice on completing applications, timeframe for approvals, meeting closing dates and common reasons that AEC applications are not approved.

We have recently changes some processes for reporting. To find out more click here.

All Scientific Activities involving Animals must be approved by the James Cook University AEC. Scientific Activities include the following:

  • Research and teaching.
  • Production of biological products.
  • Breeding.
  • Displays and exhibits.
  • Population surveys including cameras, boat, and aerial surveys.
  • Bird, bat and fish banding carried out as a part of university teaching or research.
  • It also includes activities such as camera surveys, aerial surveys and other activities where the animal may not detect their participation in the project.

Where an Animal is defined as any living non-human vertebrate (i.e. fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals) and cephalopods (octopus, squid, and nautilus). It also includes the following life stages:

  • Mammal, reptile and bird embryos and foetuses that have progressed beyond half their gestation/incubation period.
  • Fish and amphibian larval stages once they become free-feeding.

If you're unsure whether your activities require AEC approval

Please seek advice from the Animal Welfare Officer or Animal Ethics Officer

There are now five types of application forms for animal use at JCU:

When applying you will also need to submit an Animal Use Spreadsheet, which summarises the total number of animals requested.

  • Application for Observational Field Work
  • For projects or parts of projects that involve observation only, with no capture or trapping such as still and video camera traps, visual surveys and aerial surveys where there is no direct interaction with the animals, you no longer need to estimate your potential animal usage or submit a request for animal numbers or an Animal Use Spreadsheet. Instead, you must report animal usage in your Annual and Final Reports for the project.

For detailed question-by-question assistance with completing your application, read the sections following and consult the Animal Ethics Investigator Guide.

Once your project is approved by the AEC, no changes can be made to any aspect of the project without AEC approval of the amendments. These must be submitted to the AEC for approval before any changes can take place using the form:

Application for a Protocol Amendment

The AEC is able to delegate the review of amendment applications to its Executive Committee and so approval may be given within a few days if there is adequate justification for this urgency and the proposed amendment is considered to be minor (see Section 2.2.23 of the Code).

The Animal Welfare Officer or Animal Ethics Officer will assess this answer and decide whether it can be reviewed outside of an AEC meeting. If so, you may get approval within 1-7 days depending on the availability of reviewers.

Please note, retrospective amendments will not be approved unless they meet the criteria outlined in the Opportunistic Sampling, Vouchering and Amendments to Projects in the Field Policy.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) are documents that provide a detailed description of a procedure or activity. SOPs are best used when a procedure or activity is common to many projects and can save time by providing details of procedures already approved by the AEC. Instead of describing a procedure or activity in the application, you may reference an approved SOP.

New SOPs can be submitted for approval using the AEC SOP Template.

The AEC already has a library of over 200 approved SOPs available to use.

To access the SOPs currently available you can "Self-Enrol" in the LearnJCU organisation "Animal Welfare" by logging in to LearnJCU, click on "Tools" then "My Organisations" and then self enrol. Alternatively you can contact and request access.

Genetically modified (GM) animals are animals that have had part of their genome modified through artificial genetic engineering techniques.

Details of the phenotype (expression of the genotype or genetics of the animal) must be provided to the AEC using the Phenotype Report.

Each state and territory in Australia has different legislation and requirements for the regulation of scientific animal use.

JCU is registered in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia, Tasmania, South Australia and the Northern Territory, so is able to approve animal use in these states and their coastal waters.

Even though you are working overseas, you still need to follow the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes, obtain JCU AEC approval.

If you are planning to work overseas you need to be aware that other countries may have their own laws and requirements that relate to animal research and teaching.

For projects using animals that are privately-owned, you will need to get written consent from the animal’s owner

Examples of consent forms are available from the Animal Welfare Officer.

If you are carrying out animal work in collaboration with another organisation or individual, you should notify the JCU AEC even if the work has been approved by another AEC and is being carried out elsewhere.

Animal Ethics Monitors have been chosen with expertise in various types of research and with different types of animals to review and provide feedback on your applications to the AEC.

A monitor’s review is not compulsory, but is highly recommended. This review aims to pick up any problems with your application and to improve the likelihood that it will be approved at the AEC meeting.

If an applicant is concerned by the way an application has been processed or by the decision of the AEC, the first point of contact is the Animal Ethics Officer or Animal Welfare Officer.

There are procedures in place to deal with appeals to AEC decisions in a fair and independent manner.

Training and Assessment of Competence

In order to achieve high standards of animal care and welfare, compliance and research outcomes those working with animals must be competent, skilled and knowledgeable in the activities they undertake.

Training can be provided as a one-on-one, small groups or larger groups to suit your availability and will be designed to suit your area of work and type of animal use. Training will be provided through online modules in the near future.

Animal Facility Induction

All staff can receive a facility induction to the animal facilities they will be working in. Contact the Facility Manager of the animal facilities you will be working in to arrange an induction.

Regulation of Animal Use


The following legislation applies to the use of animals for scientific purposes and must be complied with by all JCU staff.

The Code

The Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes is a document compiled through extensive public consultation by the NHMRC, ARC, CSIRO, Universities Australia and other organisations who have a stake in scientific animal use.

Managing a Project

This page outlines how to conduct and manage a project using animals from receipt of  Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) approval to submission of the Final Report.

An unexpected adverse event is any adverse event that was not foreshadowed in the approved project or activity. Unexpected Adverse Events are be handled according to the Unexpected Adverse Events Procedures.

Complete the Unexpected Adverse Event Report Form and email to the Animal Welfare Officer within 48 hours of their occurrence. 

If you are working in the field, or unable to provide a full report within 48 hours, send an email or contact the Animal Welfare Officer by phone as soon as it is practical to do so.

A progress report is required to be submitted annually and at the end of your research. You will receive reminders from the Animal Ethics team when you report is due.

Our reporting process is currently changing. For more information on our new reporting requirements, click here.

Access links to documents, forms, policy, legislation and national guidelines relating to animal ethics.

To support Rainforest Aboriginal peoples involvement and collaboration in research activities in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, the Department of Environment and Science and Wet Tropics Management Authority will oversee a trial (commencing 1 October 2020).

The trial will commence on 1 October 2020 and will apply to Department of Environment and Science research permit applications:

  1. Permit to Take, Use, Keep or Interfere (PTUKI) – Nature Conservation Act 1992 
  2. Scientific purposes permits over forestry areas—Nature Conservation Act 1992 
  3. Educational purposes permits over forestry areas—Nature Conservation Act 1992 
  4. Permit to Collect – Forestry Act 1959.

For more information form on the trial and the application, see the following documents: