Animal ethics approvals
How do I know if I need animal ethics approvals?
If you are conducting any activities with live vertebrate animals as part of your project, you must consider whether you need animal ethics approvals.
The NSW Animal Research Act 1985 (the Act) sets down requirements for ethics approval for projects involving any procedure, test, experiment, inquiry, investigation or study in connection with which an animal is used.
Animal means any live vertebrate animal (native or introduced/feral/pest), including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. The Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes (the Code) establishes the framework for the ethical care and use of animals in research and education. The Code also applies to cephalopods.
Animal Ethics Committees (AEC) are responsible for assessing, approving and monitoring all animal research projects and education activities as required under the Act and the Code.
The NSW Animal Ethics Infolink website contains useful information on this topic.
AEC approval is required for animal research (including fauna surveys and monitoring) and educational projects. Activities may include remote recording (such as spotlighting, hair tubes and acoustic recording), animal capture and handling, non-contact animal research methods, invasive procedures and other experimental approaches. Not all AECs are the same and requirements may vary. You should contact the relevant AEC for your project. For DPIE staff, please visit the AEC Insite page for information.
How do I submit an application for AEC approval?
If you are an employee of DPIE, visit the AEC Insite page for the relevant information. It is recommended you contact the Animal Research Ethics Unit at [email protected] to discuss your proposal before submitting an application. DPIE staff conducting research in collaboration with another institution need to notify the DPIE AEC.
If you are undertaking animal research as part of a university or another research institution, you need to refer to that institution’s AEC for their requirements.
If you are neither DPIE nor part of an accredited research institution then you should contact the Department of Regional NSW, Primary Industries, Animal Welfare Unit at [email protected].
For further information on AECs and animal ethics approval, visit the NSW Animal Ethics Infolink.
Who do animal ethics approvals cover?
An Animal Research Authority issued by an AEC permits the named investigators to carry out specified activities involving animals.
The Principal Investigator is responsible for the welfare of all animals involved in the research or education activity.
If you are neither DPIE nor part of an accredited research institution, you should contact the Department of Regional NSW, Primary Industries, Animal Welfare Unit at [email protected]. It may be possible to partner with a government or research institution and connect with a Principal or Associate Investigator on a project. This individual would be responsible for your volunteers throughout the duration of the sampling event, so you need to have this arrangement properly approved.
For other wildlife licensing information please go to the NSW Government Wildlife licensing website.
Other project checks and approvals
It is important to conduct a risk assessment for your participants when they are undertaking activities associated with your project. Any risks need to be appropriately mitigated and you need participant acknowledgement of these risks and their duties which can be incorporated into a volunteer registration form. A volunteer registration form can also be used to cover your participants by insurance by specifying what activities they are and aren’t covered for.
Before sharing images of your participants make sure that you obtain their written permission for you to use those images. A parent or guardian can give consent for someone under the age of 18.
You also may need permission to be on certain land which should be obtained before your project begins.
You also need to consider whether your participants need to obtain a police check or a working with children check which is free for volunteers.