A NSW Government website

Animal Ethics Infolink
A NSW DPIRD and Animal Research Review Panel initiative

Annual reporting by Animal Ethics Committees to Accredited Animal Research Establishments

Animal Research Review Panel Policy 5
Revised:  September 2022

1. Australian Code

Clauses 2.2.28 and 2.3.29 of the Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes (the Australian Code) state that:

2.3.28 The AEC must submit a written report on its operations at least annually to the governing body of the institution(s) for which it acts.

2.3.29 The report should advise on:
(i)         numbers and types of projects and activities assessed, and approved or rejected

(ii)        the physical facilities for the care and use of animals by the institution

(iii)       actions that have supported the educational and training needs of AEC members and people involved in the care and use of animals

(iv)       administrative or other difficulties experienced

(v)        any matters that may affect the institution’s ability to maintain compliance with the Code and, if appropriate, suitable recommendations.

The Australian Code also states, under the responsibilities of institutions regarding the governance of an Animal Ethics Committee (AEC):

2.2.37 The institution must conduct an annual review of the operation of the AEC to ensure that it is effective and consistent with the Code and institutional policies. This must include an assessment of the AEC’s annual report (see Clauses 2.1.9 and 2.3.28-29) and a meeting with the AEC chairperson.

2. Recommendations

AECs must report annually to the head of their accredited animal research establishment.

The purpose of this report is to inform the managers of the establishment of the activities of the AEC and to identify problems that need to be addressed. The reports should be used by establishments as a means to self-assess their compliance with the animal research legislation and to enable them to take measures to ensure ongoing compliance. The conduct of this self-assessment is a central component of establishments' responsibilities under the animal research legislation. The preparation of the report also provides an opportunity for the AEC to reflect on its activities and self-assess its operations.

The format and timing of the report should be agreed between the AEC and the establishment.

Examples of matters that could be flagged in the report are: the need for budget allocations to upgrade or build new facilities, the reorganisation of reporting structures to improve animal care, and the establishment of a staff training scheme.

The report should contain the following (where there are no matters to report under the headings below, the headings should still be included and notation made that there were no issues to report):

1.  Introduction

A brief introduction to the scope of the AEC activities

2.  AEC membership

A list of members of the AEC and their categories of membership during the reporting year.

3.  AEC meetings and inspections

A list of AEC meetings and inspections carried out during the reporting year.

4.  Numbers and types of projects assessed and approved or rejected

The number of research projects approved and rejected and a summary of the nature of the projects. For any projects rejected the reasons for the rejection should be included.

This section should include information on projects approved with high negative impact on the welfare of animals (that is Category 7: Major Physiological Challenge and Category 8: Death as an End Point – see Form L: Animal Use Statistics). The information should include measures implemented to reduce the number of high impact projects approved and to reduce the number of animals used in high impact projects. Where no projects in these high impact categories have been approved, this should also be recorded.

5.  Animal care and use facilities and field sites

A list of all animal holding facilities.

A brief description of the animal care and use facilities and field research and teaching sites, with a comment on the adequacy of these.

6.  Activities that have supported the educational needs of AEC members, researchers and teachers, and animal carers

Include information related to each of the separate categories of:

  • AEC members
  • Researchers/teachers
  • Animal carers.

7.  Administrative or other difficulties experienced

Indentify difficulties and how, or if, they have been resolved and any recommendations for action.

8.  Any matters that may affect the establishment’s ability to comply with the animal research legislation (including the Australian Code) and, if applicable, recommendations for action to be taken

Include the identification of specific cases of non-compliance and how these were dealt with.

9.  Implementation of the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement)

Include examples of how the use of animals has been replaced (by non-animal alternatives), reduced (to decrease the number of animals used) and refined (to decrease adverse impacts on animals).

10.Consideration of Rehoming

Include examples of rehoming considerations, such as rehoming programmes.

If no consideration is given to rehoming or no rehoming programme exists, please provide details as to why not.

3. AEC annual report template

A  template has been prepared as a guide for AECs, highlighting specific areas which should be included in AEC annual reports.