Procedures

Animal Ethics in Teaching and Research - Procedure

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1.0 Purpose and Scope

The University of Queensland (UQ or the University) is committed to the promotion of a culture of ethical, humane and responsible care and use of Animals for Scientific Purposes. University Staff, Students and Affiliates working with animals have a moral obligation to treat animals with respect and take into consideration all aspects of the animals’ welfare when designing and conducting research activities.

This procedure should be read in conjunction with:

1. Responsible Conduct of Research Policy, and

2. The Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes (Animal Use Code).

Each state in Australia has established legislation for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes and individuals associated with the University who are conducting research or teaching activities must ensure compliance with the relevant state or territory legislation as well as the Animal Use Code.

Staff and students at the University are required to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, the Animal Use Code, and the standards set out in the relevant UQ code or charter:

a. Staff and affiliates: UQ Code of Conduct.

b. Students: Student Charter.

c. Higher Degree by Research (HDR) candidates: Higher Degree by Research Candidate Charter.

This procedure applies to all staff, students and affiliates who use and/or are responsible (refer 4.7 and 4.8 of this procedure) for the care of animals for scientific purposes, including those who use University animal facilities and/or University Animal Ethics Committees (AEC).

Individuals who use and/or are responsible for the care of animals for scientific purposes are referred to as Investigators and/or Animal Carers throughout this procedure for alignment with the Animal Use Code. 

2.0 Process and Key Controls

1. The respect for animals must underpin all decisions and actions involving the care and use of animals for scientific purposes.

2. Animal welfare must be maintained through compliance with the Animal Use Code and with the relevant legislation in the state and/or the country in which the activity is being conducted (Queensland legislation includes the Animal Care and Protection Act 2012 (Qld) and Animal Care and Protection Regulation 2012 (Qld)).

3. All activities, including projects, that involve the care and use of animals for scientific purposes must be applied for through the Office of Research Ethics and:

• be subject to ethical review, approval and monitoring by an AEC,
• commence only after approval has been granted by an AEC,
• be conducted in accordance with AEC approval, and
• cease if approval from the AEC is expired, suspended or withdrawn.

4. Approved research on laboratory animals may only be conducted in approved and certified UQBR facilities. Laboratories may be proposed for the holding of animals in accordance with Section 3.4 of this procedure.

5. Complaints will be handled through the appropriate University process as outlined in Section 3.5 of this procedure.

3.0 Key Requirements

3.1 Governing principles for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes

Respect for animals must underpin all decisions and actions involving the care and use of animals for scientific purposes. This respect is demonstrated by:

• using animals only when it is justified,
• supporting the wellbeing of the animals involved,
• avoiding or minimising harm, including pain and distress, to those animals,
• applying high standards of scientific integrity,
• applying replacement, reduction and refinement (the 3Rs) at all stages of animal care and use, and
• knowing and accepting one’s responsibilities.

The obligation to respect animals, and the responsibilities associated with this obligation, apply throughout the animal’s lifetime, including acquisition, transport, breeding, housing, husbandry, use of the animal in a project, and provisions for the animal at the conclusion of their use.

3.2 UQ Animal Ethics Committees (AEC)

The role of an AEC is to provide judgement as to whether a proposed use of animals is ethically acceptable and ensure all activities relating to the care and use of animals are conducted in accordance with the Animal Use Code. AEC is the approving body for animal ethics applications for scientific purposes.

All investigators associated with the University using animals in any form (including Biological Material derived from animals) or undertaking a research or teaching activity that involves the use, handling or observation of animals, or any activity that affects the habitat of animals, must obtain AEC approval before commencement of the work. That approval may be in the form of an administrative review conducted by the relevant AEC in order to provide ratification of an approval from an external AEC. This requirement applies regardless of the location.

AEC approval is limited to the specific details included in the original application (including, but not limited to project scope, procedures, timeframe, location, and named personnel). An amendment to the original approved project or activity must be reviewed and approved by an AEC or Animal Ethics Committee Executive prior to any change being implemented.

Further information on the University AECs is available on the Animal Ethics website.

An application for the use of animals for scientific purpose must be made through the Office of Research Ethics.

3.3 Activities involving animals conducted overseas

All investigators associated with the University who are using animals for scientific purposes in another country must obtain approval from the AEC of their home institute prior to commencement of any hands-on work with animals. Applications must be made through the Office of Research Ethics.

If the activity is conducted in collaboration with an overseas organisation and the country in which the research is conducted has an established regulatory framework, it may be possible for the relevant UQ AEC to ratify the approval of the collaborating institute’s AEC or equivalent body. Applications for ratification must be made through the Office of Research Ethics by the lead UQ investigator.

It is a requirement that Australian researchers working with animals in other countries still comply with the Animal Use Code as well as local regulatory requirements. If there are no regulatory requirements in the overseas location/s, the minimum standard of the Animal Use Code must be adhered to.

3.4 Requirements for holding laboratory animals outside of UQBR facilities

The holding of laboratory animals outside UQBR facilities constitutes a potentially significant risk to the University and its personnel including risks relating to animal welfare, occupational health and safety and regulatory compliance. The holding of laboratory animals is contingent upon there being a sound scientific or animal welfare justification and that the period of holding is of the absolute minimum duration.

Animals may only be held outside of UQBR facilities if:

• the proposed laboratory has been inspected and assessed as complying with animal welfare and OHS requirements,
• the proposed laboratory has been approved by OHS-Biosafety,
• the proposed laboratory is certified to the appropriate standard relevant to the required physical containment category of animal, and
• AEC approval to hold the animals outside of UQBR has been granted.

If all approvals are not obtained, then the approved project or activity involving laboratory animals must be conducted in a UQBR facility.

The Tracking and Holding Laboratory Animals Outside of UQBR Facilities Procedure further explains the requirements around approvals, facilities and animal welfare.

3.5 Complaints

3.5.1 Concerning the care and use of animals

Complaints concerning the care and use of animals will be handled through the appropriate University process.

Relates to an activity or project that.. 

Process

has the potential to adversely affect animal wellbeing, beyond that approved by the relevant AEC. 

Referred to the AEC to investigate and may result in immediate cessation of the activities.

would normally require AEC approval. 

Referred to the AEC to investigate.

raises the possibility of a breach of the Code.

Staff and affiliates: Managing Complaints about the Conduct of Research Procedure.
HDR candidates: Research Misconduct – Higher Degree by Research Students Procedure.
Students other than HDR candidates: Student Integrity and Misconduct Policy.

involves animal use for teaching or non-research scientific purposes.

Staff and affiliates: UQ Enterprise Agreement.
Students and HDR candidates: Student Integrity and Misconduct Policy.

spans more than one institution and/or AEC.

Dealt with on an individual basis per the agreement with that institution or, if no agreement exists, in negotiation with the other institution.





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.5.2 Complaints about the AEC process

Complaints concerning the AEC process should be progressed to the Director of the Office of Research Ethics. The ultimate decision regarding the ethical acceptability of activity lies with the AEC and cannot be overridden by the University.

3.5.3 Conscientious objection

Complaints relating to the conscientious objection of the use of animals for scientific purposes in the case of teaching activities should be progressed to the relevant course coordinator.

4.0 Roles, Responsibilities and Accountabilities

4.1 Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

In accordance with the Animal Use Code, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) is the delegated officer of the Governing Body, The University of Queensland.

4.2 UQ animal ethics committees (AEC)

The primary responsibility of AECs is to ensure that all activities relating to the care and use of animals are conducted in compliance with the Animal Use Code.

AECs must review and approve new and ongoing projects and activities, monitor the care and use of animals, take action regarding unexpected adverse events or matters of non-compliance, approve guidelines for the care and use of animals, provide advice and recommendations to the University, and report to the University on its operations at least annually.

The full details on the requirements and responsibilities of AECs are available in the Animal Use Code, chapter 2.3 and the terms of reference for the AEC.

4.3 Director of Research Ethics

The Director of Research Ethics is responsible for receiving complaints concerning the processes of AECs that are not able to be resolved informally between the AEC and the researcher. The Director will aim to resolve the complaint. A resolution may require consultation with other relevant parties.

4.4 Office of Research Ethics

The Office of Research Ethics is responsible for:

• the management of the University’s animal ethics review processes,
• supporting the work of the University’s animal ethics committees and provision of administrative support to AEC executives,
• the provision of education, advice and support for researchers using animals for teaching and research.

4.5 Biological Resources (UQBR)

The UQBR is responsible for:

• the housing and maintenance of animals used for research, teaching and breeding purposes at prescribed UQ facilities,
• the animal management database to reflect the holding of animals outside of UQBR facilities, and
• assistance to AECs and HSW to uphold this procedure. 

4.6 OHS-Biosafety

OHS-Biosafety is responsible for the assessment and certification of a proposed laboratory for the holding of laboratory animals.

4.7 Individuals using animals for scientific purposes

Individuals using animals for scientific purposes fulfil the role and responsibilities of investigators in the Animal Use Code.

In accordance with the Animal Use Code, investigators must:

• apply the principles of the Animal Use Code in all aspects of the care and use of animals, including planning, conducting and reviewing projects,
• follow relevant policies and procedures established by the University and the AEC,
• comply with relevant laws, regulations, disciplinary standards, ethics guidelines and institutional policies including when conducting activities overseas,
• apply for and obtain written approval from an AEC before commencing a project or activity that involves the use of animals, or an amendment to an approved project or activity,
• conduct a project involving the use of animals in accordance with the conditions and requirements of AEC approval, and cease the project or activity if approval from the AEC is suspended or withdrawn,
• undertake education and training, and competency assessment, in accordance with University and AEC policies and procedures,
• ensure that procedures using animals are performed competently,
• maintain records of the care and use of animals, and
• report to the AEC as required.

If animals are being held in a facility outside of UQBR, investigators must also ensure:

• the welfare of laboratory animals being used for their project. Welfare includes providing and documenting, at the very minimum, daily animal care,
• all personnel have completed required training before handling the animals and are listed on the animal ethics approval for the project,
• all GM proposals for laboratory animal work outside UQBR facilities includes a procedure for Holding Laboratory Animals outside of UQBR Facilities, and
• that information regarding animals is regularly provided to UQBR in order to ensure they are tracked on a central database once removed from UQBR facilities and the database is immediately informed of their fate. This is irrespective of the length of time between removal and final fate.

The full details on the requirements and responsibilities of investigators are available in the Animal Use Code, chapter 2.4.

4.8 Animal carers

In accordance with the Animal Use Code, and within the scope of their responsibilities, animal carers must:

• apply the principles of the Animal Use Code in all aspects of the care of animals,
• follow relevant policies and procedures established by the institution and the AEC,
• undertake projects and activities in accordance with the conditions and requirements of approval from an AEC,
• take measures to ensure that the animal’s environment and management is appropriate for the species and the individual animal, and support the animal’s wellbeing,
• ensure that steps are taken to safeguard animal wellbeing by avoiding and minimising harm, including pain and distress, to animals,
• consider the application of Replacement, Reduction and Refinement (the 3Rs) in all aspects of the care of animals for which they are responsible,
• ensure that their duties are performed competently,
• liaise with investigators and relevant project team members on all matters relevant to the wellbeing of the animals involved,
• maintain records of the care of animals, and
• report to the AEC as required.

The full details on the requirements and responsibilities of animal carers are available in the Animal Use Code, chapter 2.4.

5.0 Monitoring, Review and Assurance

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) is responsible for the development, compliance monitoring and review of this procedure.

The University will conduct an annual review of the operation of the AEC to ensure that it is effective and consistent with the Animal Use Code and University policies. The annual review will be conducted in line with the Animal Use Code, section 2.2.37.

An independent, external review will be conducted at least every four years to assess the University’s compliance with the Animal Use Code, and to ensure the continued suitability, adequacy and effectiveness of the University’s procedures to meet its responsibilities under the Animal Use Code. The external review will be conducted in line with the Animal Use Code, section 6.

6.0  Recording and Reporting

6.1 Recording

All meetings of UQ’s AEC are minuted and records of all decisions maintained. The University records all breaches of the Animal Use Code.

6.2 Reporting

All investigators associated with the University must fulfil all reporting requirements, including submission of documents to the Office of Research Ethics or AEC as appropriate.

Reporting requirements include:

• submission of mandatory annual reports by the due date,
• reporting of unexpected adverse events in a timely manner (within 72 hours unless under exceptional circumstances such as fieldwork),
• providing a completion report as soon as possible after completing or no longer working on a project,
• providing reports regarding the creation and maintenance of genetically modified animals as required,
• providing records of animal care and use when requested by an AEC, the University or authorised external reviewers, and
• any other reports or responses required by an AEC or the Office of Research Ethics.

All AECs must submit a written report on their operations at least annually to the University Senate Committee.

7.0 Appendix

7.1 Definitions

3Rs – the replacement of animals with other methods, the reduction in the number of animals used, and the refinement of techniques used to minimise the adverse impact on animals.

Affiliates - academic titleholders, visiting academics, emeritus professors, adjunct and honorary titleholders, industry fellows, and conjoint appointments.

Animal – (a) a non-human live member of a vertebrate animal taxon; (b) a live pre-natal or pre-hatched creature as follows if it is in the last half of gestation or development (i) a mammalian or reptilian foetus; (ii) an avian, mammalian or reptilian pre-hatched young; (c) live marsupial young; (d) a live invertebrate creature of a species, or stage of the life cycle of a species, from the class Cephalopoda. A human being or human foetus is not an animal.

Please note: should animal research be conducted in Australian states other than Queensland, this definition may change.

Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) – a committee constituted in accordance with the terms of reference and membership laid down in the Animal Use Code.

Animal Ethics Committee Executive – a sub-committee of an already licensed AEC, established to streamline the animal ethics process. Decisions and recommendations must be ratified at the next quorate meeting of the AEC.

Animal carers – the people involved in the care of animals that are used for scientific purposes, including during their acquisition, transport, breeding, housing and husbandry.

Animal welfare – an animal’s quality of life, which encompasses the diverse ways an animal may perceive and respond to their circumstances, ranging from a positive state of wellbeing to a negative state of distress.

Animal Use CodeNHMRC Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes.

Biological material – includes, but is not limited to, blood, blood products, tissues, body fluids and any derivatives produced by chemical or physical means; micro-organisms – wild type or mutant.

Facility – any place where animals are kept, held or housed, including yards, paddocks, tanks, ponds, buildings, cages, pens and containers.

Individuals associated with the University of Queensland – a collective term for staff, students and affiliates using or caring for animals for scientific purposes. For the purpose of this procedure, this definition also expands to individuals from external organisations who use animal facilities managed by UQ.

Investigator – researchers, teachers, undergraduate and postgraduate students involved in research projects, and people involved in product testing, environmental testing, production of biological products and wildlife surveys.

Laboratory animal - rats, mice, guinea pigs and rabbits.

Research – the concept of research is broad and includes the creation of new knowledge and/or the use of existing knowledge in a new and creative way to generate new concepts, methodologies, inventions and understandings. This could include synthesis and analysis of previous research to the extent that it is new and creative.

Scientific purposes – an animal is used for a scientific purpose if it is used in an activity or in connection with an activity performed to acquire, demonstrate or develop knowledge or techniques in a scientific discipline (for example, diagnosis, environmental studies, field trials, producing biological products, product testing, Research (including the creation and breeding of a new animal line where the impact on animal wellbeing is unknown or uncertain), or teaching).

Staff – continuing, fixed-term, research (contingent funded) and casual staff members

Students – a person enrolled as a student at the University or undertaking courses or programs at the University.

Teaching – any action or group of actions undertaken with the aim of achieving a scientific purpose, where the scientific purpose is imparting or demonstrating knowledge or techniques to achieve an educational outcome in science, as specified in the relevant curriculum or competency requirements.

Unexpected adverse event - an event that may have a negative impact on the wellbeing of animals and was not foreshadowed in the approved project or activity.

Use(1)  – generally means to cause or permit to be used.

This includes to:

• acquire or purchase an animal
• accommodate, provide for, or care for an animal
• breed with an animal
• identify the animal (e.g. microchip, ear tag, brand)
• dispose of an animal
• drive, load ride, transport or work an animal.

Please note: should animal research be conducted in Australian states other than Queensland, this definition may change.

(1) Further information on this definition is available on the Queensland Government, Business Queensland website.

Custodians
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Bronwyn Harch
Custodians
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Bronwyn Harch