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.

These documents do the following in relation to using animals for scientific purposes:

  • Defines the terms animals and scientific purpose and so defines which activities and which classes of animals require AEC approval.
  • Defines the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes (the Code) as the code that must be followed for the scientific use of animals.
  • Makes it a requirement for organisations or individuals who plan to use animals for scientific purposes to be registered with the Queensland Regulator (Biosecurity Queensland).
  • Make the use of animals for scientific purposes illegal unless three conditions are met:
    • The use of the animal(s) is approved by an Animal Ethics Committee (AEC),
    • Any requirements of the AEC made in relation to this use are complied with, and
    • Those using the animals comply with the Code.
  • Makes it an offence to use animals for certain cosmetic and toxicology testing.

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. The Code:

  • Outlines a set of governing principles and describes an ethical framework to guide decisions and actions of everybody involved in animal use for scientific purposes;
  • Describes the responsibilities of institutions, AECs, investigators and animal care staff;
  • Outlines responsibilities in situations where more than one institution or AEC is involved (collaborations);
  • Outlines principles for supporting and safeguarding the wellbeing of animals used for scientific;
  • purposes in terms of the animal’s life experience;
  • Describes how an ethical framework can be applied to teaching activities;
  • Describes responsibilities for addressing complaints and non-compliance related to animal use;
  • Outlines the requirements for an external review of the operation of the institution and the AEC.

Organisations who receive funding from the ARC or NHMRC are required to comply with all aspects of the Code. When discrepancies arise between the Code and the Legislation the university applies whichever requirements are more stringent in order to comply with both documents. One example of a discrepancy is the requirement for AEC approval for aquatic camera survey. The legislation says that this is exempt as it’s unlikely the animal will perceive its use in this sort of project, however, the Code says that AEC approval is required for all scientific activities and because this is a scientific activity the university applies the higher test in its policy.

JCU policies, procedures and guidelines

It’s compulsory to comply with the policies and procedures of JCU. These documents have been written to comply with the various legislation, codes of practice and standards and so translate these requirements into local summaries applicable to JCU.

JCU Guidelines are developed to inform researchers on acceptable and ethical ways to carry out various activities related to animal research and ethics. They are also used by the AEC as a guide to what is considered acceptable when they are reviewing AEC applications. It is not mandatory to follow guidelines, but if you are using a method that is outside the guidelines, it needs to be explained in detail with reasons provided for why it is being used as an alternative.