Frequency of animal ethics committee meetings
Animal Research Review Panel Policy 12
Revised: January 2020
1. The Australian Code
The Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes (the Australian Code) addresses the frequency of meetings of Animal Ethics Committees (AECs) at clause 2.2.26 (iv):
2.2.26 Documented meeting procedures should include:
(iv) frequency of meetings, which should be sufficient to allow for effective functioning of the AEC.
The responsibilities of AECs are contained in chapter 2.3 and summarised in clauses 2.3.1 and 2.3.2:
2.3.1 The primary responsibility of an AEC is to ensure, on behalf of the institution for which it acts, that all activities relating to the care and use of animals are conducted in compliance with the Code.
2.3.2 The AEC must:
(i) review applications for projects and approve only those projects that are ethically acceptable (see Clause 1.3) and conform to the requirements of the Code
(ii) review applications for activities associated with the care and management of animals in facilities, including procedures applicable to breeding programs integral to the maintenance of an animal line, and approve only those activities that are ethically acceptable and conform to the requirements of the Code
(iii) conduct follow-up review of approved projects and activities (see Clause 2.2.32 [ii]), and allow the continuation of approval for only those projects and activities that are ethically acceptable and conform to the requirements of the Code
(iv) monitor the care and use of animals, including housing conditions, practices and procedures involved in the care of animals in facilities
(v) take appropriate actions regarding unexpected adverse events
(vi) take appropriate actions regarding non-compliance
(vii) approve guidelines for the care and use of animals on behalf of the institution
(viii) provide advice and recommendations to the institution
(ix) report on its operations to the institution.
2.1 To enable an AEC to meet its responsibilities, meetings should be held at least four times a year.
2.2 Where there are no projects to consider, the AEC should use the opportunity to carry out its other responsibilities. These may include:
- Inspections of facilities, animals and procedures (see clauses 2.3.17-2.3.23 of the Australian Code);
- Discussion of general and ethical issues and policies – such as the use of alternatives to animals and rehoming;
- Consideration of methods to promote effective communication between the AEC and people involved in the care and use of animals;
- A review of the functioning of the AEC and its resources;
- Drafting the AEC annual report for submission to the governing body of the establishment for which it acts (see clauses 2.3.28 and 2.3.29 of the Australian Code);
- Consideration of the content and accuracy of information to be provided to the NSW Department of Primary Industries in Form L: Animal use statistics (the annual return on animal use);
- Review of approved standard operating procedures (see clauses 2.2.33-2.2.36 of the Australian Code);
- Discussion of any other business considered by any AEC member to be important.