Orientation of new members of animal ethics committees
The effectiveness of Animal Ethics Committees (AECs) depends, in part, on the familiarity of AEC members with processes and procedures related to the Animal Research legislation and the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes.
It is important that new members of AECs be given information and assistance to help them to be active participants in the AEC process and to fulfil their responsibilities under the legislation.
Clause 2.1.1 (viii) of the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes states:
"Institutions which use animals for scientific purposes must implement processes so that the governing body of the institution or its delegate is assured of compliance with the Code and relevant legislation. These processes must at least include providing the AEC with the resources required to fulfil its terms of reference and operate as set out in Section 2.2. This includes provision of resources for orientation and education of AEC members, administrative assistance and, where appropriate, the reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses and/or payment of an allowance to AEC members;"
2. Information to be provided to new members
The following are documents that should be provided to new AEC members:
2.1 Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes.
2.2 Animal Research Act and Animal Research Regulation.
2.3 Terms of reference and operating procedures of the AEC.
2.4 Grievance procedures of the institution concerning animal research.
2.5 Most recent annual report of the AEC to the head of the institution.
2.6 Standard operating procedures approved by the AEC.
2.7 Any guidelines on animal care and emergency procedures approved by the AEC and any relevant policy documents.
2.8 A list of AEC members and their categories of membership, preferably with contact details (if approved by individual members).
2.9 Research application form used by the AEC.
2.10 Inspection form used by the AEC.
2.11 AEC newsletter (if produced).
2.12 Most recent Animal Research Review Panel Annual Report.
2.13 Animal Research Review Panel policies and guidelines.
2.14 List of 'Publications Available from the Animal Welfare Unit'
2.15 'Complaints under the Animal Research Act' pamphlet.
2.16 Web address for Animal Ethics Infolink
2.17 Animal Research Review Panel Model research application form and sample answer .
2.18 Most recent copy of ANZCCART News.
2.19 A schedule of meeting times, dates and venues.
2.20 A schedule of inspections of animals, facilities and specific projects.
2.21 A map of the establishment (for large institutions).
3. Additional mechanisms
Mechanisms in addition to the provision of printed information could include:
3.1 An introduction of the member to the other AEC members.
3.2 An introduction of the member to another AEC member who has been nominated to provide support and answer queries.
3.3 An introduction of the member to the head of the accredited establishment.
3.4 An introduction of the member to animal researchers and animal care staff.
3.5 A tour of the animal holding areas and research facilities.
3.6 An overview of the type and extent of research conducted at the accredited establishment.
3.7 Arranging for the member to attend a training course about AEC procedures (for example University run training courses for new researchers).
3.8 Providing the new member with access to minutes of previous AEC meetings.
Copies of the Animal Research Act and its Regulations can be found at:
The Australian Code of Practice for the Care and use of Animals for Scientific Purposes - 7th edition 2004 can be accessed from www.nhmrc.gov.au/publications/synopses/ea16syn.htm
Animal Research Review Panel Policy 15