Animal Ethics Committee Terms of Reference

The Royal Women's Hospital Animal Ethics Committee operates in accordance with the NHMRC Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes and the Victorian Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 and other relevant federal and state legislation and regulations.

Terms of reference

1. Title

Royal Women's Hospital Animal Ethics Committee

2. Reporting relationship

The Royal Women's Hospital Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) is responsible and reports to the Chief Executive Officer of the Hospital.

Through the Chief Executive Officer, the Committee reports to the Board of Directors.

3. Membership

3.1 Members of the AEC are appointed by the hospital / Board.

3.2 The AEC shall have a membership as required by the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes. It must comprise at least five persons, including a separate person appointed to each of the following categories A to D:

1) A Chairman - The Chair shall be appointed by the Board;

2) Category A: - A person with qualifications in veterinary science and with experience relevant to the activities of the institution.

3) Category B: - A suitably qualified person with substantial recent experience in the use of animals in scientific or teaching activities.

4) 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 involved in the care and use of animals for scientific purposes.

5) Category D: - A person who is both independent of 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 under-graduation education.

6) Additional members to assist the Committee to function effectively.

3.3 Each member shall generally be appointed for a period of twelve (12) months but is eligible for re-appointment.

4. Quorum

The quorum for a meeting of the AEC must include at least one member from each Category A, B, C and D.

5. Frequency of meetings

Meetings should be scheduled not less than quarterly, and more frequently as required.

6. Responsibilities

6.1 The AEC is to ensure, on behalf of the Hospital, that all care and use of animals is conducted in compliance with the relevant legislations, the Code and other National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines on the care and use of experimental animals from time to time.

In discharging these responsibilities, the Committee shall:

1) monitor the acquisition, transport, production, housing, care, use and disposal of animals;

2) recommend to the hospital any measures needed to ensure that the standards of the Code are maintained;

3) examine and approve, approve subject to modification, or reject written proposals relevant to the use of animals in scientific and teaching activities;

4) formally withdraw approval for any projects or authorize the treatment or humane killing of any animals;

5) maintain a register of approved projects;

6) perform all other duties required by the Code.

6.2 To examine, comment and advise the Hospital on matters concerning animal experimentation.

7. Method of operation

The AEC shall assess, monitor and review research proposals in accordance with provisions of the Code.

7.1 The Committee shall meet as required and meetings should be scheduled not less than quarterly.

7.2 The Committee may establish an Executive to function in compliance with provisions of the Code.

7.3 The Committee may co-opt people from time to time to provide expertise on specific issues or seek written advice.

7.4 Minutes are to be maintained with a record of decisions taken and all other aspects of the Committee’s operation.

7.5 For every project involving animals, a written proposal must be submitted on the AEC approved form and include:

  • the project title, its proposed commencement date and duration;
  • names of the senior and associated investigators, with their professional qualifications, training and experience;
  • scientific or educational aims of the project;
  • justification of the project, with particular reference to stress caused;
  • number of species of animals required;
  • justification of the use of these species and the number of animals required;
  • details of acquisition or production, source and transport, housing and care of animals;
  • details of experimental techniques, including surgical and other procedure to be used, doses of anaesthetics, analgesics and neuromuscular agents, the methods to be adopted to ensure that anaesthesia is adequate, particularly when using neuromuscular blocking agents, methods for monitoring pain and distress during and after experimentation, and the arrangements made for animals at the completion of the experiment, including where applicable method of euthanasia and disposal.

7.6 An experiment must not commence until the AEC has approved the research proposal.

7.7 In the event of disagreement between the investigator and the Committee, the matter should be referred to the Chief Executive Officer of the Hospital for further review as may be appropriate.

7.8 The AEC shall report at least annually to the Board.


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