Animal ethics guidelines
It is a requirement under the Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes, 8th Edition, 2013, that regular reports are provided to the AEC for all genetically modified animals. Reporting is required at the time an application is submitted for approval by the AEC, as soon as an adverse phenotype is identified and when an annual report or the final report is submitted for the project.
The purpose of this report is to provide information about animals which are genetically modified (GM) or which may have an adverse phenotype. (For convenience, all animals are referred to as genetically modified in the form.) The information provided is designed to assist with monitoring and assessment of the impact of the genetic modification upon the health and welfare of the affected animal/s. A detailed description of in vitro methodology is not required.
The report must be completed by an investigator wishing to undertake a project involving genetically modified animals or animals likely to have an adverse phenotype.
Please use lay language where possible and define terms where necessary.
Unexpected Adverse Events: Reporting Responsibilities
Investigators are required by law to provide prompt notification of any unexpected adverse events, Clause 2.4.34 of the 8th Edition of the Code. It is a requirement that the Chief Investigator notify the AEC Chair and the LARTF Senior Manager immediately and submit an Unexpected Adverse Report Form as soon as practicable to the AEC.
Training and Assessment of Competency
It is a requirement of the Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes, 8th edition, 2013 that persons performing procedures on animals must be certified as competent in those procedures before being permitted to perform the procedures unsupervised.
The Training and Assessment Form is to be used where a participant in an AEC-approved project requires training in a procedure or procedures and that training is not provided by La Trobe Animal Research and Teaching Facility (LARTF) staff. The form should be completed by the person providing the training.
The Competency Assessment Form is to be used for attesting to the competence of a person to perform a procedure or procedures listed on a Training and Assessment Plan that forms part of an AEC-approved project. The person providing the competency assessment will normally be the trainer named in the Training and Assessment Plan.
Where a person has been assessed as competent by another Institution or organisation to perform a procedure or procedures that will form part of an AEC-approved project at La Trobe University, a Confirmation of Competency Form can be completed and submitted with the application for review by the La Trobe University Animal Ethics Committee.
The Statement of Competency to Perform Procedures Involving Animals form is to be completed by persons who have previously been recognised by the La Trobe University Animal Ethics Committee as competent to perform procedures on animals. Once competence in those procedures is confirmed by the AEC, the person will be verified as competent in the procedures on the LARTF Training and Competency Register (TRACR).
Animal Numbers: Record Keeping and Reporting
With reference to Section 30 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 and in accordance with Regulation 14(f)(ii), (iii), (iv) and (v) [Scientific Procedures Premises Licence prescribed conditions] the AEC requires that all investigators maintain standard records concerning animal numbers, acquisition, transfer, use and destruction. Such information must be recorded on a daily basis.
It should be noted by owners of stock/breeding animals that the monthly report must be submitted to the LARTF in the prescribed format. All colony owners are reminded they are ultimately responsible for ensuring that the report is submitted in accordance with LARTF requirements.
Labelling of Animal Holding Facilities
All animal holding facilities at La Trobe University involving AEC-approved experimental animals or colony stock must display labels with details including the species, approval and permit numbers, relevant information about housing, handling, diet and breeding, and contact information of staff responsible for animal care. Note that all responsibilities regarding animal care must be allocated to specified investigators or technical staff.
Individual cages must be labelled with up-to-date cage labels. Examples of cage labels can be sourced from animal facilities managers.
Additionally, copies of the following, current documents must also be available in the same room as the relevant animals at all times:
- the AEC approval letter signed by the Chair / Deputy Chair of the AEC
- the approved AEC application form
- any AEC approved variations and their associated approval letter
- copies of approved relevant phenotype reports (if applicable)
- copies of relevant permits (if applicable)
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Senior Management has authorised the AEC to suspend research found non-compliant with these labelling requirements.
Genetically Modified Organisms and Biological Materials
If Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are to be used, approval for their use must be granted by the La Trobe University Institutional Biosafety Committee (LTIBC) before any work can commence using those organisms. Where biological materials are to be used, advice must be sought from the LTIBC as to whether approval is required.
Find out more about the use of genetically modified organisms.
Guidelines for the Use of Animal Tissue
The euthanasia of animals, including culls, for the purpose of extracting organs, tissues or fluids for the purpose of scientific study is interpreted by the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources as a scientific procedure for purposes of Part 3 (Scientific Procedures) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (amended 1997) Section 21(g).
The above interpretation is independent of the time elapsed between the euthanasia and extraction of parts if it is clear that there exists at the time of the euthanasia an intent to extract material at a later date.
For as long as carcasses of specified animals (i.e., mice, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits bred in captivity) are stored on the premises of a scientific establishment, it must be presumed that the intent exists and any subsequent extraction of material for a study should be regarded as a scientific procedure requiring AEC approval.
The intent is presumed to exist until it can be demonstrated unequivocally that it does not - for example, by total carcass destruction.
Wildlife from a captive-breeding colony held under permit from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning or other authorities may be killed from time to time to manage the colony. However, good husbandry practices should severely limit the numbers. Wildlife which are destroyed for this purpose (whether adult, young at foot, pouch young or nestling) must be recorded in a book.
Note that AEC approval is not required where tissue is obtained from animals which were not primarily killed for scientific purposes, e.g., tissue obtained from commercial suppliers of animal products (abattoir, commercial fisherman, etc.) or road killed specimens (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning permit required).
However, it is imperative that the Committee is aware of all material being used for research and teaching within the institution and accordingly, the AEC requires all investigators to notify the Committee in writing of such proposed animal tissue use. Such information should include the nature, source and purpose of tissue to be used.
Higher Order Invertebrates: Use for Scientific Purposes
The La Trobe University Animal Ethics Committee resolved to 'require researchers at La Trobe University to notify the Animal Ethics Committee of proposed experimental use of higher order invertebrates in accordance with recommendations outlined in the Code.' [Minute ref.46.6]
'Scope of the Code - ... The Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes (8th edition) covers all live non-human vertebrates and higher order invertebrates. Investigators and teachers should take into account emerging knowledge and ethical values when proposing to use other species ... decisions as to their welfare should, where possible, be based on evidence of their neurobiological development.' Higher-order invertebrates include live cephalopods (including octopus, squid, cuttlefish and nautilus) and crustaceans (lobster, crab and crayfish).
Interstate Animal Welfare Requirements
La Trobe University investigators who undertake research interstate must comply with the relevant animal welfare legislation of those States.
Investigators who intend to undertake work interstate are requested to notify the La Trobe University Animal Ethics Committee of the proposed activities prior to commencing the interstate research. In addition, it is the responsibility of those who undertake or intend to undertake research interstate to remain informed of the relevant legislation.
Animal Ethics Committee Scientific Procedures Approval: Ex-Employees
The La Trobe University Animal Ethics Committee resolved that:
In instances where animal users terminate their employment with La Trobe University, La Trobe University Animal Ethics Committee approval and legal responsibility for research projects of such staff members would cease forthwith.
Further, Animal Ethics Committee members indicated that they would expect exiting members of staff to provide the Animal Ethics Committee with a Final Report together with all outstanding, associated documentation prior to departure from La Trobe University.
The Committee recommended that the Executive Officer should, when necessary, initiate action to support such resolution.
Displaying Animals on La Trobe University Grounds
La Trobe University is committed to abiding by the Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes, 8th Edition, 2013. This ensures that animal welfare matters are always considered in dealings with vertebrate and higher-order invertebrate animals by staff, students and visitors. This commitment to animal welfare extends to animals brought onto any of the La Trobe University facilities for display.
The management and monitoring of activities involving vertebrate and higher-order invertebrate animals are the responsibility of the La Trobe University Animal Ethics Committee and the University Teaching, Compliance and Veterinary Services Manager.
To fulfill its commitment to animal welfare, La Trobe University requires to be informed of any proposed activity involving the display of vertebrate and higher-order invertebrate animals on university grounds, with a particular focus on the well-being of animals.
The Animal Ethics Committee must be advised of any planned event to display animals on La Trobe University grounds at least 10 days but not more than 30 days prior to the proposed event. The notification should include a description of the activity, the dates and times the animals will be on campus and the person/s organising the event. The organiser/s must ensure that a statement on how animal welfare will be protected, and copies of any approvals and permits are current and applicable for the activity/ies being undertaken. Event organisers are responsible for informing displayers/handlers of these requirements.
For more information, contact the La Trobe University Animal Ethics Committee on (03) 9479 6694 or firstname.lastname@example.org.