Animal ethics committee terms of reference

Composition

A Chair: A senior member of academic staff (or a person external to the University appointed to a senior position in order to discharge this role), nominated by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) on the recommendation of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Graduate Research) and appointed by the Research and Graduate Studies Committee.

B At least four other members appointed by the Research and Graduate Studies Committee so as to fulfil the conditions prescribed in the current edition of the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes, belonging to the categories A, B, C and D as described in the Code and defined in the Animal Ethics Procedures. When necessary, the University may advertise in order to fill vacancies for positions of category A (veterinarian) members, category C (independent members with a commitment to animal welfare) or category D (lay members). In the case of category B (scientific) members, advice may be sought from Heads of Schools and Pro-Vice Chancellors of the Colleges, and nominations will be sought from animal welfare organisations and the Victoria Bureau of Animal Welfare for members in category C.

The Deputy Chair is normally appointed from among the Category B members, and in the absence of the Chair has the same powers provided to the Chair in the Animal Ethics Procedures

Confidentiality

New members may be required to sign a confidentiality declaration prior to taking up their positions on the committee.

Quorum

As required by the Code of Practice, a meeting of the Animal Ethics Committee is quorate only when:
(a) Category C and D members constitute at least one third of the members present, and
(b) at least one member from each category is present
Where the Chair belongs to one of the defined categories A – D, then the presence of the Chair counts towards the satisfaction of conditions (a) and (b).

Executive

The AEC executive includes the Chair and at least one Category C or D member. The executive does not approve new proposals, dealing only with emergencies and minor modifications to projects. All executive decision are subject to review at the next AEC meeting.

In Attendance

  • The Director of the La Trobe Animal Research and Teaching Facility (LARTF), ex officio
  • The Pro Vice-Chancellor (Graduate Research), ex officio
  • Scientific Procedures Premises Licence Holders and nominees, by invitation
  • The Animal Welfare Officer, by invitation
  • Chief investigators (or their nominees) of projects using animals, by invitation.

Investigators will not be present at meetings at the time final decisions are taken in regard to their projects.

Term of Office

Three years, with renewal for a further three years up to a maximum of six years, subject to annual review. On the recommendation of the Chair, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) or the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Graduate Research) has the power to remove any member from the committee with one week's notice.

Terms of Reference

The Animal Ethics Committee will consider all ethical and welfare aspects of proposed research involving animals, approving only those studies in which the use of animals is essential and fully justified, with special reference to these principles:

(a) replacing animals wherever possible by research that does not use animals,
(b) reducing the animals used to an extent that does not compromise experimental design or statistical significance of results, and
(c) refining techniques used in research so as to minimise the adverse impact on animal subjects.

In keeping with these principles, the committee:

(i) examines all applications for the use of animals, and approves, modifies or rejects them in accordance with the principles (a) to (c) above;
(ii) withdraws approval for any project which fails to comply with the three principles (a) to (c) above;
(iii) establishes measures, develops appropriate policies, makes any recommendations and takes those actions needed to ensure that the standards implied by the three principles (a) to (c) are maintained;
(iv) maintains a register of all approved applications;
(v) monitors the acquisition, transport, production, housing, care of and research on animals;
(vi) determines and approves all policies and operating procedures relating to the purchase, transport, housing, use and disposal of animals;
(vii) ensures procedures are in place so that any unexpectedly suffering animal is treated or humanely killed, and that the matter is reported to the AEC;
(viii) examines and comments on all plans and policies of the University (or any other institution or body for which the committee has responsibility) which may affect the housing, care and welfare of animals used for scientific purposes;
(ix) receives regular reports from the Director, La Trobe Animal Research and Teaching Facility, and the Animal Welfare Officer
(x) performs all other duties imposed on the University under the Australian Code of Practice; and
(xi) considers and reports on any matter referred to it by the Vice-Chancellor, the Academic Board or the Research and Graduate Studies Committee.

Reporting

The committee reports to the Research and Graduate Studies Committee.

Conflicts of interest

Prior to appointment, all persons nominated to the committee will declare any general conflict of interest. Any perceived conflicts of interest regarding specific issues will be declared at the beginning of a meeting, or as soon as an apparent conflict is noted, and will be dealt with as specified in the Animal Ethics Procedures.

Meeting frequency

The committee normally meets monthly and conducts at least ten meetings each year.

Secretariat

Secretariat and support services are provided by Research Services.

These terms of reference approved by the Research and Graduate Studies Committee, July 2011.