There has been a long-standing community interest in the welfare of animals used in scientific research which has led to governments in many countries introducing animal protection legislation.
In 1876, the Cruelty to Animals Act in the United Kingdom was the first legislation in the world which was specifically directed towards the protection of animals used in science. This law required the licensing of scientists who wished to conduct animal experiments.
In Australia, the first animal protection legislation was introduced in Victoria in 1883. This legislation required the licensing of scientists, as in the UK. Legislation introduced in other states in the early 1900s did not include this requirement.
Today, there are laws which govern the use of animals in research, teaching and product testing in each Australian state. Although there is some variation in the statutory requirements of each state, the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes, sets out the common framework of guiding principles.