Animal Ethics Committees

The use of animals for research and teaching purposes in NSW is governed by the Animal Research Act, 1985 (the Act). Under the Act, organisations that employ researchers or teachers who use animals must be accredited. The Act is administered by the NSW DPI, including the provision of executive support to the Animal Research Review Panel, the statutory body established under the Act. For broader information about animal use in research and teaching in NSW, how it is regulated, and your obligations as an accredited establishment, please visit Animal Welfare.

NSW as an Accredited Animal Research Establishment

NSW DPI also conducts animal research and teaching activities, and as such it is an accredited Animal Research Establishment under the Act. DPI aims to ensure that thorough ethical consideration is given to how and why animals are used for our Department's research, teaching and extension activities, and that animals are treated humanely. DPI mandates that all research involving animals complies with the Act and subordinate legislation, as well as with the Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes, 8th edition, 2013 (NHMRC) (The Code).

It is the responsibility of NSW DPI’s Animal Ethics Committees (AECs) to ensure, on behalf of the Department, that all care and use of animals is conducted in compliance with the Act and The Code. The role of the AEC is to ensure that the use of animals is justified, provides for the welfare of the animals and incorporates the principles of replacement, reduction and refinement (also known as 'the three R's'):

  • Replacement of the use of animals with other methods
  • Reduction in the number of animals used
  • Refinement of techniques used to reduce the impacts on animals.

Click to download the AEC Terms of Reference

Click to download the AEC Grievance Procedures

All leaders of research or teaching projects that involve the use of live vertebrate animals must apply to one of NSW DPI’ s AECs for review. This includes the use of animals in research, teaching, field trials, product testing, diagnosis, the production of biological products, environmental studies, and observational studies of wildlife.

Projects involving animals may only commence with approval in writing from the relevant AEC and once an Animal Research Authority (ARA) has been issued for the project. All persons involved in the procedures of an approved project must also be approved by the AEC.

Animal Ethics is supported by the Research Integrity & Data Team, within the Chief Scientists Branch. For more information about NSW DPI’s AECs please email dpi.chiefscientist@dpi.nsw.gov.au.

Animal Ethics Committees

Staff access only

Please visit Animal Ethics Compliance and Support (DRNSW intranet) to access information about the internal DPI AEC’s.

NSW DPI also administers the Secretary’s Animal Care and Ethics Committee, which provides animal ethics oversight to individuals and companies whom otherwise do not have access to an AEC.

Please visit the Secretary’s ACEC for further information.

External organisations using the Fisheries ACEC, please visit Fishing, Animal Care and Ethics.

Secretary’s Animal Care & Ethics Committee

The Secretary’s Animal Care and Ethics Committee (Secretary’s ACEC) has been established to give effect to section 25A of the Animal Research Act 1985 (the Act). The Secretary’s ACEC is responsible for consideration of applications for animal research authorities from individuals and for the supervision of animal supply for research by individual holders of animal supplier’s licences.

The Secretary’s ACEC is responsible for ensuring that all animal care and use for research and education by authority holders and supply of animals by animal suppliers under its supervision comply with the Act and the Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes (the Code). Please follow the link to view the Secretary’s ACEC Terms of Reference (PDF, 166.02 KB).

The Act defines animal research as any procedure, test, experiment,  inquiry, investigation or study in connection with which an animal is used and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes any procedure, test, experiment, inquiry, investigation or study in the course of which:

(a)  an animal is subjected to:

(i)  surgical, medical, psychological, biological, chemical or physical treatment,

(ii)  abnormal conditions of heat, cold, light, dark, confinement, noise, isolation or overcrowding,

(iii)  abnormal dietary conditions, or

(iv)  electric shock or radiation treatment, or

(b)  any material or substance is extracted or derived from the body of an animal,

Animal research does not include any procedure, test, experiment, inquiry, investigation or study which is carried out in the course of:

(c)  the administration of veterinary treatment to an animal for the purpose of protecting the welfare of the animal, or

(d)  the conduct of normal animal husbandry operations.

The object of the Act is to protect the welfare of animals used in connection with research and authorisations provided under the Act are granted only for recognised research purposes. Recognised research purposes include purposes involving the use of animals for research, teaching, testing and the production of biological products.

Under the Act, a recognised research purpose means:

(a)  the purpose of acquiring, demonstrating or developing knowledge in the field of medical, veterinary, agricultural, behavioural or biological science,

(b)  the purpose of acquiring, demonstrating, exercising or developing techniques used in the practice of medical, veterinary, agricultural, behavioural or biological science,

(c)  the purpose of developing or testing substances intended for therapeutic use (within the meaning of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 of the Commonwealth), or

(d)  any purpose prescribed for the purposes of this paragraph.

All research and teaching projects involving the use of animals must be approved by an Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) and must be conducted under an active Animal Research Authority (ARA).

Under the legislation, the maximum approval for a project is up to three years. Once a project is approved an ARA is issued and the project may commence. An ARA is issued for a 12 month period and can be renewed upon provision and AEC approval of an Annual Report. At the end of the project it is mandatory to submit a Final Report.  See Figure 1 for details.

Figure 1. Approval Periods

A scale of processes

Secretary’s ACEC meetings and submission

Please find below the meeting and cut off dates for 2020 and 2021. All submissions must be made by the closing date to be considered at the meeting. Submission to the Secretary’s ACEC can be sent to secretary.acec@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Meeting Date

Submission Deadline

7 December 2020

20 November 2020

1 February 2021

16 January 2021 (TBC)

22 March 2021

5 March 2021 (TBC)

10 May 2021

23 April 2021 (TBC)

28 June 2021

11 June 2021 (TBC)

16 August 2021

30 July 2021 (TBC)

4 October 2021

17 September 2021 (TBC)

22 November 2021

5 November 2021 (TBC)

Secretary’s Animal Care & Ethics forms

The current forms and templates are available below. Any new forms will be uploaded here. Please check this page to ensure you have the latest version of the form prior to making your submission.