The Animal Research Act 1985: Factsheet 1

The New South Wales Animal Research Act 1985 was introduced to protect the welfare of animals by ensuring that their use in research is always humane, considerate, responsible and justified. The 1995 Regulation incorporated the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes into the legislation.

Any organisation that uses or supplies animals for research or teaching in New South Wales will be affected by the Animal Research Act. The Act applies to:

  • individuals
  • groups
  • institutions
  • organisations
  • schools
  • companies

which use animals for research or teaching.

Research establishments must be accredited and animal suppliers must be licensed. Accreditation and licensing  are conditional on compliance with the Act, its Regulations, and the Code of Practice.


Individuals using animals for research and teaching must comply with:

  • the Act
  • the Regulation
  • the Code of Practice.

The Animal Research Act and Animal Research Regulation prescribe how animal research in New South Wales must be conducted and controlled. The Act and Regulations as well as Australian Code of Practice can be obtained from the following departments:

The Act and Regulations

NSW Government Information Service
Goodsell Building
Cnr Hunter & Elizabeth Streets
Sydney, NSW, 2000
Phone: (02) 9228 8922


NSW Government Information Service
130 George Street
Parramatta, NSW, 2150
Phone: (02) 9689 5610

Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes

AGPS Press
Australian Government Publishing Service
GPO Box 84
Canberra, ACT, 2601

Defining animal research

The definition of  'animal research' in the Act is very broad and is intended to cover all studies or investigations which use animals. The Animal Research Review Panel has a policy to help differentiate animal research from 'veterinary treatment' (see Policy 6). If in doubt, contact the Animal Welfare Unit for specific advice.

'Animal research' includes the use of animals in:

  • experimental research;
  • surgical, medical, psychological, biological, chemical or physical treatment;
  • abnormal husbandry or dietary conditions;
  • collection of blood, tissue or other body samples;
  • teaching;
  • diagnosis;
  • product testing;
  • production of biological materials;
  • feeding trials;
  • field surveys.

An 'animal' includes any vertebrate, other than a human being, that is a:

  • mammal
  • bird
  • reptile
  • amphibian
  • fish.

Accreditation and Licensing

There are two types of approval which may be required.
These are:

  • accreditation as a research establishment (see Fact Sheet 2)
  • animal suppliers licence (see Fact Sheet 6).

All corporations, schools, teaching institutions and animal supply units need permission to conduct animal research or to supply animals for research.

Applications must be made via the Animal Welfare Unit to the Director-General of NSW Agriculture.

The Animal Research Act requires that all applications for accreditation and animal supply licences are referred to the Panel for consideration. The Panel has established procedures to deal with the workload this entails and regularly reviews and updates these procedures to take account of changes in needs and resources.

There are two components in the assessment of applicants by the Panel:

  • The consideration of a written application to determine whether the applicant is complying with a limited number of fundamental requirements of the legislation.
  • The evaluation of the applicant on a site inspection where a much broader approach is taken.

The recommendations of the Panel are referred to the Director-General of NSW Agriculture who has statutory authority for the issue of accreditation and licences and for imposing; altering; or removing conditions of accreditation or licence.

Accreditation and licences are usually issued subject to the condition that a site inspection must be satisfactory. There may also be other conditions.

Evaluation of Written Applications

Currently, the Panel has a three-tiered approach to consideration of applications. Routine reapplications for accreditation or licence are assessed by Panel executive staff according to criteria developed by the Panel. The Panel makes recommendations on the basis of these assessments and any additional information which might be required.

Applications for initial accreditation, licences, or reapplications where there have been substantial changes to the structure or activities of the organisation are referred to an ‘applications subcommittee’ of the Panel. The subcommittee reviews the application and makes recommendations to the Panel.

A small number of applications are viewed and considered by the full Panel. These include applications from individuals or organisations about which the Panel has particular concerns or where the application is sufficiently different from the norm as to raise policy implications.

The criteria against which the Panel assesses written applications are drawn from the legislation. Considerations include whether: the ACEC is properly-constituted; its procedures are adequate; it is meeting frequently enough to deal with the volume of work; it is conducting inspections of animals being used in projects and facilities which it supervises. The type and number of animals held and their accommodation are checked and likely problem areas are flagged for follow-up at site inspection. Similarly, numbers and qualifications of animal care staff are assessed for adequacy. Monitoring is another vital area of assessment and details of the type of monitoring carried out must be provided. Questions on the source and destination of animals allow the Panel to double-check compliance with the Act’s provisions relating to animal supply.