Responsibility of investigators

Investigators and teachers are responsible for continually considering how to apply the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement) during all stages of the project (i.e. planning, conducting and reviewing). This includes ensuring that their work is not an unnecessary repetition of work by conducting a thorough investigation and review of available information.

They must also ensure that there are no other non-animal alternatives available that will achieve, either wholly or partially, the same aims as their proposed animal use.

They must also refine their use of animals through use of the best available techniques and facilities, and ensure that the persons using animals are competent and perform procedures competently.

It is a requirement of the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes that the application of the 3Rs has been considered in the application for animal ethics approval and the relevant section on the Animal Ethics Application Form is completed. In completing this form, the person with ultimate responsibility, investigator or teacher must provide a clear description of the steps taken to consider and apply the 3Rs. This could include detailing the non-animal alternatives that are available, list which will be used in the activity and, if none are used, justify why they are not.

A recent amendment of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1936 has excluded the use of an animal for scientific purposes in accordance with section 91 of the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 from the meaning of 'veterinary science'.

Non-veterinary researchers can lawfully administer anaesthetics and analgesics and perform surgical procedures on animals provided they meet the relevant requirements of the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001, other relevant legislation and the scientific use code.