Biosafety and defence

Research involving biohazardous materials, genetically modified organisms and/or the export of defence sensitive materials or technologies must comply with relevant legislation and guidelines. This legislation includes The Gene Technology Act 2000, The Gene Technology Regulations 2001 and the Defence Trade Control Act (2012).

Compliance to these important laws is overseen by the Swinburne Biosafety Committee and the Research Ethics, Integrity & Biosafety team.

What does this mean for me?

If you are working with biohazards such as genetically modified organisms, blood product or venoms you will need to apply to the Swinburne Biosafety Committee to ensure that any risks posed by your research are appropriately managed and contained.

Similarly, if through your research you are exporting information, materials or technologies that have the potential to be directly or indirectly used for defence activity, you will need to assess whether a permit is required from the Department of Defence before you send this overseas.

The information on these pages outline what you need to know and who to contact.

Swinburne’s Biosafety Committee (SBC) oversees the safety of Swinburne’s research. The committee assesses, approves, inspects and monitors research facilities to ensure that potential biological hazardous materials (biohazards) cause no harm to human, animal and environmental health.

Matters that require approval or notification

The Swinburne Biosafety Committee (SBC) requires approval/notification for:

  • GMOs & certification of physical containment facilities in which GMO dealings will be conducted
  • Security Sensitive Biological Agents (SSBAs)
  • Organisms in Risk Group 2‌, 3 or 4 in the Australia/New Zealand Standard 2243.3:2010 or procedures that may result in the isolation or enrichment of such organisms
  • All human tissue or blood products
  • High risk cell lines (Cell culture information [DOCX 17KB])
  • Material of biological origin that may be or may contain a hazard to humans e.g. toxins, allergens, prions
  • Quarantine materials in any of the above categories
  • The safety of major clinical and research equipment, e.g. MEG, MRI

Please note: SBC responsibility does not extend to general laboratory risks and procedures involving the use of chemicals which are otherwise covered by Swinburne Occupational Health and Safety Policies or Procedures.

The application and approval process

  1. Go to https://ethicsapps.swin.edu.au/
  2. Click on Log in at the top right hand side
  3. Use your Swinburne account (Swinburne email address) and password to log in (if you have already logged in click on the Home to take you to your Work area)
  4. Create a new project and select the Biosafety Clearance as the application form
  5. Complete the application - you can invite your collaborators to review and work on the form too
  6. Create and attach relevant additional documents (see below for risk assessments and SOPS)
  7. Obtain sign off on your application from the Chief Investigator
  8. Submit the form
  9. Respond to any queries posed by the committee
  10. Approval will be granted once all outstanding queries are satisfied
  11. Commence your research
  12. To modify your existing biosafety application see the user guide below.

For detailed instructions see the ERM Biosafety Applicant Guide

Please note that work cannot commence until written approval has been received. Please contact resethics@swin.edu.au for more information.

SOPs and Risk Assessments

The SBC have approved a number of generic risk assessments and SOPs and are available for use across Swinburne:

  • SOP and Risk Assessment: Working with human blood, plasma, tissue and other body fluids
  • Risk Assessment: General Risk Assessment for working with Risk Level 2 Bacteria in all Swinburne PC2 laboratories (according to Australian and New Zealand standard AS 2243.3)
  • Risk Assessment : Use and propagation of Risk Level 2 human and animal cells in all Swinburne PC2 laboratories (according to Australian and New Zealand Standard AS 2243.3)

Please contact the Research Ethics Office if you would like copies of the documents or for more information.