The role of the animal ethics committee

An animal ethics committee (AEC) is a committee constituted in accordance with the requirements of the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes (known as the scientific use code). AECs must:

  • ethically review and decide on applications and other activities associated with the use and care of animals for scientific purposes, including research and teaching
  • monitor the care and use of animals for scientific purposes
  • conduct follow-up review of approved projects and activities
  • approve guidelines for the care and use of animals
  • take actions regarding unexpected adverse events and non-compliance
  • report to the relevant institution
  • provide advice and recommendations to the relevant institution.

Institutions that use animals for scientific purposes must implement processes so that the governing body of the institution or its delegate (a senior member of the institution) is assured of compliance with the code and any relevant legislation. These processes must at least include establishing one or more AECs directly responsible to the governing body of the institution or its delegate.

Where there is little use of animals for scientific purposes, institutions may access another institution's AEC (external AEC) or jointly establish an AEC with another institution.

Before using animals, each investigator or teacher must ensure they or their institution are registered with Biosecurity Queensland and have AEC approval for the particular activity/project.