Animal Research Amendment (Right to Release) Act 2022

What does the Act do?

The Act amends both the Animal Research Act 1985 (ARA) and the Animal Research Regulation 2021 (ARR).

ARA key amendments

  1. Rehoming research animals
    • Requires researchers to take reasonable steps, including by providing exercise, environmental enrichment, socialisation, handling and basic training as appropriate for an animal of the species, breed and age of the animal, to prepare dogs and cats for rehoming at the conclusion of their use in research.
    • Requires researchers to take reasonable steps to rehome dogs and cats after the conclusion of their use in research or after three years of use, whichever occurs first – unless the Animal Care and Ethics Committee (AEC) and Animal Research Review Panel (the Panel) approve an exception to enable a longer period of use before being required to take the reasonable steps to rehome.
      • The supervising AEC can only approve the exception to the three year limit rule if it is satisfied the animal research project is justified to run for longer than three years and at least one veterinary member of the AEC is satisfied that animal welfare will not be compromised.
    • The reasonable steps to rehome includes providing information to an individual or organisation who may be able to rehome the dog or cat about its age, weight, gender, health, medical information amongst other items to support the animal being rehomed. The Department may establish a database to record this information.
  2. Confidentiality
    • Sets out confidentiality requirements for individuals and animal rescue organisations that rehome dogs and cats from researchers.
    • This includes the requirement that individuals or animal rescue organisations must not disclose identifying information about animal researchers who kept the animal, unless for example, it is disclosed with consent, in connection with the administration of ARA, or as part of legal proceedings or with other lawful excuse.
  3. Dogs and cats unsuitable for rehoming
    • If a dog or cat used in research is unsuitable for rehoming, and an independent veterinarian (i.e. not connected with the research institution or holder of animal research authority) has provided a certificate attesting to this (including reasons), the researcher does not have to take reasonable steps to rehome the dog or cat after research.
  4. Record keeping and annual reporting
    • Sets out various recordkeeping and reporting requirements – e.g., researchers must keep a record of the reasonable steps taken to prepare animals for rehoming and to rehome research animals as well as applications, approvals and refusals of applications seeking an exception to the three year limit for individual dogs and cats used in research.
    • AECs must keep records of communications with suitable rehoming individuals or organisations and details of whom dogs or cats used in research have been rehomed with.
    • Sets out new annual reporting requirements of the Panel to the Minister relating to dogs or cats that have been approved by the Panel to be kept for research for longer than 3 years. This includes the number of applications made, approved and refused, the number of dogs or cats subject to approval, length of the animal research project, reasons for approval and the nature of the research.
  5. Dogs or cats kept for research prior to commencement
    • The new rehoming requirements do not apply to any dogs or cats that were being kept for research by research institutions for a period of three years from the commencement of the requirements on 25 November 2022 – effectively a three-year phase-in period (no matter how long a dog or cat has been kept for research for currently, the three year time period starts from commencement).
  6. Rehomed dogs and cats cannot be used in research – regulation amendment
    • Dogs and cats used in research and rehomed under the new requirements cannot then be re-supplied for research in the future.
  7. Condition of accreditation or authority & Complaints
    • Requires that researchers comply with new requirements as a condition of accreditation of an animal research establishment or animal research authority.
    • Allows complaint to be made to the Secretary if research establishments or animal research authorities fail to comply with the rehoming requirement of Part 6A.

When does the Act commence?

The Act commenced upon assent, which occurred on the 25 November 2022.