Animal Welfare and Ethics @ JCU

Research Services Ethics & Integrity Animal Welfare and Ethics @ JCU

Animal Welfare and Ethics @ JCU

The University recognises the significant role played by animals in the progression of human knowledge.  The University’s research and teaching activities involving animals are critical to the mission of the James Cook University. In this respect the University uses animals only when their use is justified and when no alternatives are available.

The University has a strong commitment to the welfare of animals and

Activities involving animals must only be conducted in in line with university policy, compliance with relevant legislation and after approval by the university’s Animal Ethics Committee (AEC). Such 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 (the 3R’s). Ethical use, appropriate care and respect for animals involved are central to the University’s policy and procedure framework.

JCU's Commitment to Animals

The University commits to:

  • Promote a culture of respect and ethical conduct amongst its staff and students which will be evident in its policy framework and in the behaviour staff at all levels;
  • Ensure the health and wellbeing of all animals on university property or used by its staff for scientific or teaching purposes at field locations.  It achieves this through the provision of the best possible accommodation, by providing a high level of care and husbandry practices, by ensuring those using and caring for animals are highly skilled and trained in their roles and by promoting the principles of the 3Rs;
  • Establish a well-resourced and independent 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 also be approved to do so;
  • Employ adequate numbers of highly skilled and qualified investigators, technical staff, facility managers and animal care staff;
  • Employ 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;
  • Ensure all those working with animals are knowledgeable in the legal requirements and the Code as well as being competent in their roles or under the direct supervision of a competent person.

Animal health or welfare concerns or complaints

At JCU we place a high priority on animal welfare and require that all animals are treated with a high degree of respect at all times. As such, any complaints about animal treatment or care are taken extremely seriously and will be thoroughly investigated with action taken if they are proven.

If you have an enquiry, concern or complaint about:

  • 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

You may contact the Animal Welfare Officer directly for confidential advice, to discuss a concern or to lodge a complaint.  All concerns and complaints will be followed up promptly and confidentially, although there may be a time, for procedural fairness that it becomes necessary to reveal the identity of the complainant.  The Animal Welfare Officer and AEC follow written investigation and complaint procedures to ensure that all parties are heard and the matter is dealt with expediently and confidentially. Anonymous complaints will also be investigated, however, the ability investigate thoroughly may be affected by not being able to clarify certain facts with the original complainant so we prefer that people at least provide a name and contact point for this purpose.

If you receive a complaint about your work with animals, please refer this to the Animal Welfare Officer or Animal Ethics Officer to ensure the complaint is dealt with appropriately and to prevent any unnecessary escalation.

Abstaining from Participating in Animal Work

Students or staff at JCU may abstain from participating in animal practicals or classes involving animals. If you would like to abstain from a particular animal work, you should first speak with the co-ordinator of the class. If you are not happy with the response, you may contact the Animal Welfare Officer to discuss the matter.