Swinburne’s use of animals in teaching and research complies with the provisions of the Victorian Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1986) and its associated Regulations 2019 as well as the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes (2013), published by the National Health and Medical Research Council.
All projects involving the care and use of live animals or animal tissue must have the approval of the Swinburne Animal Ethics Committee (SAEC) prior to commencement. This includes:
- tissues for class experiments
- behavioural studies
- wildlife census data collection
- the use of fish
- animals or tissue obtained from third parties.
How to apply to use animals in your research
The Swinburne Animal Ethics Committee (SAEC) meets on a limited number of occasions each year so please contact the Research Ethics, Integrity and Biosafety Office as soon as possible when considering proposals for projects involving animals to find out the upcoming meeting schedule.
Before you apply, please determine which approach you should take:
- If the Chief Investigator is a Swinburne staff member and the work is to be carried out in Swinburne facilities or in the field then approval must be obtained from the Swinburne AEC (SAEC). Applications for approval must be lodged online via the Swinburne Ethics Review Management website.
- Or if the Chief Investigator is a Swinburne staff member but the work is to be performed at another institution with a separate Scientific Procedures Premises License then approval must be obtained from the Animal Ethics Committee named on the Scientific Procedures Premises License of that institution as well as submitted to the SAEC for endorsement. Please email the SAEC Executive Officer with a description of your role in the project and attach the approved application and the approval certificate.
To submit an online application:
- Go to the Swinburne Ethics Review Management website.
- Click ‘Log in’ in the top right-hand corner of the menu bar and enter your Swinburne email address and password.
- Select ‘Create project’ from the left-hand sidebar, add in the Project Title and select ‘Animal ethics application form’ from the drop-down menu, then click ‘Create’.
- Complete the application — you can invite your collaborators to review and work on the form too.
- Create and attach relevant additional documents as requested in the form.
- Obtain the sign-offs requested in the form.
- Submit the application form as soon as possible before the SAEC deadline (Note: Submitting your form ahead of the deadline will ensure that any queries are answered in time for the SAEC meeting).
- Respond to any queries posed by the ethics committee.
- Ethics approval will be granted once all outstanding queries are satisfied. You will receive formal notification of this approval.
Application review process
The primary responsibility of the SAEC is to ensure that all activities relating to the care and use of animals are conducted in compliance with the Code and that the use of animals is justified, provides due consideration for the welfare of the animals involved, and incorporates the principles of Replacement, Reduction and Refinement (the three Rs).
All applications will be reviewed at quorate meetings of the SAEC, with at least one member from each of these categories present:
- Category A — veterinary surgeon with experience relevant to the activities of the institution or ability to acquire relevant knowledge.
- Category B — a suitably qualified person with substantial and recent experience in the use of animals for scientific purposes relevant to the institution and the business of the AEC.
- Category C — a person with demonstrable commitment to, and established experience in, furthering the welfare of animals, who is not employed by or otherwise associated with the institution, and who is not currently involved in the care and use of animals for scientific purposes.
- Category D — a person not employed by or otherwise associated with the institution and who has never been involved in the use of animals in scientific or teaching activities, either in their employment or beyond their undergraduate education. Category D members must not fit the requirements of any other category.
The SAEC will respond with one of the following outcomes:
- approving the application without modification
- approving the application with conditions
- deferring the decision, subject to modification to the satisfaction of the committee
- not approving the application if they judge the potential effects on the wellbeing of the animals involved has not been justified by the potential benefits of the project.
Applicants will receive notice of SAEC decisions via email within five working days after a SAEC meeting. No project can commence before a formal SAEC approval letter has been obtained.
Modifications to an approved application
Any modification to an SAEC-approved project will only be granted if the amendment is minor and there is no significant change to the direction of the study. Such a modification may include a change in animal numbers, a minor change in procedures or techniques, an addition or removal of investigators, or an extension of the study duration.
The request to vary an approved animal ethics application can be made by the chief investigator and must include a cover letter describing the proposed changes and reasons why the modification is necessary.
How to submit a modification request:
- For projects approved from 2020 onwards, submit a modification request via ERM.
- For projects approved prior and during 2019, submit a modification request to the SAEC Executive Officer.