The Animal Research Review Panel (Factsheet 7)
"To protect and enhance the welfare of animals used in scientific research, testing and teaching in New South Wales.
"To promote an understanding within the New South Wales community of the ethical and technical issues involved in the use of animals for scientific purposes."
The Animal Research Review Panel (ARRP) is a statutory body which provides advice to the Minister on the use of animals in research. The Panel meets every five weeks and publishes an annual report which is available from the Animal Welfare Unit.
The Animal Research Review Panel was created by the Act to provide a mechanism for representatives of the scientific and broader community to participate in monitoring the self-regulatory process which was established within institutions by the Act.
The strength of the Animal Research Review Panel lies in the diversity of expertise, opinions and ethical beliefs of its members. The development of cohesive and progressive policies has occurred as a result of this diversity. All members are employed in other fields and participate on a largely-voluntary basis.
They are paid fees for attending formal meetings and conducting site inspections and may be paid a travelling allowance to attend relevant conferences. They are not paid for the considerable amount of time spent preparing for meetings; for considering applications for accreditation or licences; or for drafting discussion papers.
Functions of the Panel
The Act defines the functions of the Panel as:
- The investigation of matters relating to the conduct of animal research and the supply of animals for use in connection with animal research.
- The investigation and evaluation of the efficacy of the Code of Practice in regulating the conduct of animal research and the supply of animals for use in connection with animal research.
- The investigation of applications and complaints referred to it under the Act.
- Such other functions as the Minister may from time to time confer or impose on it.
The Panel consists of 12 members who are appointed by the Minister on the basis of nominations received from industry, government and animal welfare groups. Nominating organisations and individuals are listed below:
- New South Wales Vice-Chancellors Conference — three nominees.
- Australian Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association — one nominee.
- New South Wales Minister for Health — one nominee.
- New South Wales Minister for Education — one nominee.
- New South Wales Minister for Primary Industries — one nominee.
- New South Wales Minister for the Environment (National Parks and Wildlife Service) — one nominee.
- Animal Societies Federation (New South Wales) — two nominees.
- Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ( New South Wales) — two nominees.
All members of the Panel are part-time and are normally appointed for a term of three years.
The Panel appoints subcommittees to deal effectively with issues of particular concern. These subcommittees consist of members with particular expertise or interest in the matter under consideration. They explore the particular issue in depth, including discussion with relevant members of the scientific and broader communities.
They then provide a report and recommendations to the full Panel for consideration. Issues considered by subcommittees in recent times include: draft National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) policies on the care of dogs in medical research; the use of non-human primates in medical research; guidelines for the use of animals for surgical training; the review of the National Code of Practice; recommendations for amendments to the Animal Research Act 1985; the NSW Agriculture Approved Procedures; the annual meeting for Chairs and Executive Officers of AECs; and workshops on alternatives to the use of animals in education.
Subcommittees are also set up to make recommendations in the areas of licensing and accreditation, LD50 testing and complaints.
A formal process for making complaints is set out in the Animal Research Act. This process allows any person to make a complaint if they believe that any individual or institution is in breach of the legislation. The process requires a complaint to be made in writing to the Director-General of NSW Agriculture who refers the complaint to the Panel for investigation. The Panel is bound to investigate formal complaints and to make recommendations to the Director-General for disciplinary action — if this is thought to be warranted — or dismissal of the complaint. Both the complainant and the individual or institution being investigated have a right of appeal.
The Panel also has a policy of responding to informal complaints. These may involve varying degrees of investigation, from formal interviews, to requests for documents or unannounced visits to animal-holding facilities. Complaints may arrive from a variety of sources — the RSPCA may refer matters which fall out of its jurisdiction; Panel members may raise matters brought to their attention by members of the community;c omplaints may be investigated as a result of public concern expressed in the media; and some are raised in direct correspondence to the Panel or the Animal Welfare Unit.
- The Animal Research Review Panel Annual Report.
The Panel also publishes a newsletter, 'Animal Ethics Update' to disseminate information to AECs and licence holders and provide a forum for discussion.