Animal ethics committees
Animal Ethics Committees (AECs) oversee the use of animals in research and teaching. Their role includes approving and monitoring the use and supply of animals for these purposes. No animal research or teaching may be carried out without the approval of the responsible AEC. AECs must also ensure that all activities they supervise comply with the animal research legislation, including the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes. As part of their monitoring role, AECs carry out inspections of animals and facilities.
The composition of Animal Ethics Committees is set out in the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes and must include:
- A veterinarian
- An animal researcher
- An animal welfare representative
- An independent representative (who is not associated with the establishment, nor with animal research).
The composition of AECs provides an avenue for public participation in the regulation of animal research. Committees must consider and evaluate requests to use animals for research or teaching activities on the basis of applicants’ responses to a comprehensive set of questions including the justification for the research, its likely impact on the animals, and procedures for preventing or alleviating pain and distress.
On behalf of the establishment for which they operate, AECs have the power to stop non-approved activities and may withdraw approvals for on-going work. They can also require that adequate care, including emergency care, is provided.
They provide guidance and support to researchers on matters relevant to animal welfare through the preparation of guidelines and dissemination of relevant scientific literature. They are also responsible for advising their establishments on plans and policies that may affect animal welfare.
Resources for Animal Ethics Committees
ARRP Policies and Guidelines
The Animal Research Review Panel develops policies and guidelines on a range of issues related to the care and use of animals in research and teaching.
ARRP seminars for members of AECs
ANZCCART Information package for Animal Ethics Committees
RSPCA (UK) Ethical Review
The RSPCA (UK) has published a range of information related to ethical review of the use of animals in research.