Australia And New Zealand

Australia

The Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes (1997)25 provides Commonwealth standards for animals used in research, testing, and teaching. It is codified by the Animal Research Act. The Code of Practice, now in its sixth edition, is a report of a panel of experts convened by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). The NHMRC is a statutory authority within the Commonwealth Minister for Health and Family Services and advises the government. The NHMRC established an Animal Welfare Committee in 1985 to provide advice to the Council on issues related to the conduct and ethics of animal experimentation. The Animal Welfare Committee participates in the revision of the Code of Practice and has developed numerous policies, guidelines, and publications on animal welfare topics. Subject areas addressed include: independent members on Animal Ethics Committees (AECs); guidelines on monoclonal antibody production; policy on the care of dogs used in research; guidelines on the use of animals for training surgeons and demonstrating new surgical equipment and techniques; policy on the use of nonhuman primates in research; and methods of minimizing pain and distress in research animals.

The Code of Practice covers all live nonhuman vertebrates and has six stated purposes:

♦ Emphasize the responsibilities of investigators, teachers, and institutions using animals.

♦ Ensure that the welfare of animals is always considered.

♦ Ensure that the use of animals is justified.

♦ Avoid pain or distress for each animal used in scientific and teaching activities.

♦ Minimize the number of animals used in projects.

♦ Promote the development and use of techniques that replace animal use in scientific and teaching activities.

The Code of Practice endorses the principles of replacement of animals with other methods; reduction of the number of animals used; and refinement of techniques used to reduce the impact on animals. It also requires the implementation of an AEC at the institution, which ensures adherence to the Code of Practice and the principles of replacement, reduction, and refinement. The scope of responsibilities for the AEC (referred to as its Terms of Reference) include oversight of all aspects of the animal care and use program; review and recommend approval, modification, or rejection of animal use proposals; withdraw approval of a project or authorize treatment or euthanasia of animals; maintain a register of all approved projects; review and provide input to institutional plans and policies that may impact animal welfare; and make recommendations to the institution to ensure conformance with the Code of Practice. The Code of Practice describes general principles for the care and use of animals, responsibilities of institutions and their AECs, responsibilities of investigators and teachers, acquisition and care of animals in breeding and holding areas, wildlife studies, care and use of livestock for scientific and teaching activities, and the use of animals in teaching.

The Animal Research Act also requires oversight of animal research by an AEC, and stipulates that one member of the committee be an individual who is not involved in animal research, is not an animal supplier, and is not affiliated with the institution other than by service on the committee.26 The Animal

Research Review Panel was also established by the Act. This 12-member panel is comprised of representatives from the scientific community, animal welfare groups, and the government. The panel has broad responsibilities, including serving as the conduit for community input to policy development; advising on the resolution of animal care and use-based complaints; and oversight of institutional self-regulation, through on-site inspections and audits of institutions' conformance with the Code of Practice, in collaboration with government veterinary inspectors.26

In addition to Commonwealth law, state and territory legislation have been enacted that regulate the use of animals for scientific purposes. Related Commonwealth legislation includes the Australian Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act (1982); Export Control Act 1982, including Export Control (Animals) Order 1987; and the Quarantine Act (1908). All states and territories also have passed legislation pertaining to occupational health and safety. The laws require the employer to make the work environment as safe as possible, provide training to workers, and ensure supervision of employees and the workplace. Similarly, the employee is required to follow safety precautions, use protective equipment, and cooperate with the employer on occupational health and safety issues.27

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