Animal User Information

This section contains relevant information relating to submission of AEC applications and researchers responsibilities

Do I require animal ethics approval?

Any staff or student at Deakin University, who intends on using animals for research or teaching, must obtain approval from the Animal Ethics Committee (AEC). Approval must be obtained prior to commencing the project.

The following animals require AEC Approval:

  • any live non-human vertebrate (including mammals, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians)
  • adult decapod crustaceans (crabs, lobster and crayfish only)
  • cephapopds (such as octopus and squid)

Researchers are required to submit a New AEC Application to the AEC Office before the application closing date.

Working off-campus or at another institution:

Any Deakin University staff or students who intends on initiating or collaborating in work off-campus, must complete an external project request form and submit it to the AEC Office.

Widlife Studies

Research involving wildlife may require approval and permits from other authorities, in addition to AEC approval. The use of wildlife in research and teaching is regulated by the Wildlife Act 1975, which may impose specific requirements on projects depending on the nature and location of the research. Further information on wildlife research is available from the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and  Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) websites.

Submitting a new application

Staff or students at Deakin University are required to submit a New Application and obtain approval from the Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) if they intend on using animals for research or teaching. Approval must be obtained  prior  to commencing the project. The application form can be found on the forms and guidelines page.

Pre-review and Submission Instructions

New animal ethics applications must undergo a pre-review process prior to submission to the AEC. This process will provide feedback and recommendations on the application to be considered by researchers.

  1. New applications are to be submitted by the APPLICATION DEADLINE via the AEC Application Lodgement
  2. Applications will be pre-reviewed
  3. Review comments returned to the Principal Investigator within 7 days
  4. Principal Investigator to submit a cover letter & amended application by the Agenda Closing Date

Visit deadlines for application closing dates for AEC meetings.
If you are unable to include scanned or electronic signatures in the electronic submission, hard copy signature sheets must be provided to the Animal Ethics Office

Application approval process

The AEC is responsible for approving, advising, monitoring the use and supply of animals in research or teaching at Deakin University. The AEC assesses an application by applying set of principles that govern the ethical code of conduct for the use of animals in research or teaching to ensure that the use of animals is justified, the welfare of the animals are provided for, and the principles of Replacement, Reduction and Refinement (the Three R's) have been incorporated into the purpose and design of the project.

The AEC has the option of one of four levels of response to applications:

  1. Project approved without modification
  2. Project approved with conditions
  3. Project approved with modifications (clarifications):
    • Minor modifications - approved by the Executive Committee*
    • Major modifications - must be resubmitted and reviewed at a full AEC Meeting
  4. Project not approved (resubmission may be requested)

*Executive Committee: The Executive Committee consists of four members of the AEC who can make decisions on minor modifications to approved projects between full AEC meetings.

Researchers will be informed via email of the AEC decision within one week of an AEC meeting.

IMPORTANT: Investigators and students must not begin any scientific or teaching activities involving the use of animals before receipt of a formal approval notice  from the AEC Officer.

Request to work on an External Project (Off Campus)

Investigators must notify the AEC in writing if they are involved in collaborative studies using animals at another institution, or if they are named in an application to the AEC of another institution (section 2.6.8 Code).

Deakin University staff or students who initiate or collaborate in work off-campus that involve the use of animals, must submit the following to the AEC Office.

Submit the following to the AEC Office:

  1. Request to work on a Notification to work on an external project form (DOC, 139.0 KB)
  2. copy of the approved External AEC application form
  3. copy of the approval notice from the External Animal Ethics Committee

Interstate Licensing Requirements

Researchers who wish to conduct animal research in States and Territories other than Victoria must meet the particular State/Territory licensing requirements. If the work involves the use of animals interstate or overseas researchers are advised to contact us immediately as there may be a requirement for additional state licencing to be undertaken by Deakin University.

Animal ethics approval from Deakin University does not automatically allow research to be conducted in other Australian States and may require further approval from an animal ethics committee of the other state.

Additional approval or licensing can be a lengthy and expensive process.

Responsibilities of Researchers and Students

All researchers and students should read and be familiar with Section 2.4 of the Code – Responsibilities of Investigators (PDF, 450.2 KB) .

The responsibilities of all persons using animals for research or teaching include (but not exclusive):

  • respect for animals must underpin all decisions and actions involving the care and use of animals for scientific purposes
  • direct and ultimate responsibility for all matters relating to the wellbeing of animals that they use
  • must be familiar and work in accordance with the Code of Practice and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (POCTA)
  • must seek AEC approval before commencing a project
  • only conduct procedures involving the use of animals approved by the AEC, in accordance with any conditions and requirements
  • only use authorised facilities by the AEC
  • inform the AEC of other scientific and teaching institutions participating in the project
  • maintain detailed records of the use of experimental animals (Guidelines to Record keeping (PDF, 136.8 KB) )
  • inform the AEC of any adverse incidents which may impinge on animal welfare
  • ensure that procedures using animals are performed competently (Training Courses)
  • report to the AEC as required

Furthermore once a project has been APPROVED, the Principle investigator must meet the following requirements:

  1. Modifying an approved project
  2. Annual or Final Report
  3. Monitoring sheets
  4. Adverse Incident

Modifying an Approved Project

All requests for minor changes to an approved project must be approved by the AEC. Modifications request will only be considered if the changes are deemed by the AEC to be  minor  (having no significantly different impact on the animals welfare).

Researchers are required to submit to the AEC Office by the applications closing deadline the Request for Approval of Minor Change to Protocol (PDF, 2.9 MB) form

Request to modify an application may include:

  • Extension of time
  • Change to animal numbers
  • Change to animal species/strain
  • Change to protocol
  • Change in personnel

A  new application is required if the modification request is deemed by the AEC to have the potential in causing a significantly different animal welfare impact to that which was originally approved by the AEC for the project.

Annual or Final Reports

The continuation of all approved animal ethics projects is contingent upon the receipt and approval of an annual report to the AEC. Each year during the duration of the life of the project, the Primary Investigators is required to submit an annual report to the AEC Office end of January.

An AEC Annual Report Form (DOCX, 56.5 KB)   must be completed and submitted to the AEC Office each year, regardless of whether or not work has begun on the project.

In these reports the AEC will be advised on:

  • what progress has been achieved, and whether the project is meeting its aims
  • any problems that may have interfered with progress of the project
  • how many animals have been used
  • whether the wellbeing of the animals is consistent with that anticipated in the proposal
  • whether any changes are envisaged

An AEC Final Report Form (DOC, 120.0 KB)  must be completed and submitted to the AEC Secretary when a project has been completed or discontinued.

Monitoring Requirements

Investigators and teachers must  maintain records of the use and monitoring of animals used for scientific purposes (Section 3.1.9 of the Code). For every approved AEC application, the records should include:

  • the origin and fate of animals
  • how the animal welfare was assessed
  • any unexpected negative impact on animal-well being
  • notations of procedures carried out on the animal/s; and
  • additional information to be recorded required by the AEC

Additional Investigator Guidelines for record keeping (PDF, 136.8 KB)  have been provided by the Bureau of Animal Welfare.

Monitoring Sheets:

Under Section 2.2.27 the Code, Investigators must maintain records that will enable the AEC to verify that the welfare of the animals have been monitored as detailed in the approved AEC application.

You can find Deakin AEC monitoring sheets here.

Adverse Incidents

Under Sections 2.4.18(ix), 2.4.34, and 3.1.24, the  Australian code of practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes 8th edition (2013) the principal investigator is required to promptly notify the Deakin University Animal Ethics Committee of any unexpected animal deaths or adverse or unforeseen circumstances that may impact on an animal's wellbeing

What is an unexpected adverse event?

Unexpected adverse event: an event that may have a negative impact on the wellbeing of animals and was not foreshadowed in the approved project or activity.

An unexpected adverse event may result from different causes, including but not limited to:

  • death of an animal**, or group of animals, that was not expected (e.g. during surgery or anaesthesia, or after a procedure or treatment)
  • adverse effects following a procedure or treatment that were not expected
  • adverse effects in a larger number of animals than predicted during the planning of the project or activity, based on the number of animals actually used, not the number approved for the study
  • a greater level of pain or distress than was predicted during the planning of the project or activity
  • power failures, inclement weather, emergency situations or other factors external to the project or activity that have a negative impact on the welfare of the animals.

**Unexpected animal deaths: When an animal dies unexpectedly, or is humanely killed due to unforeseen complications, a necropsy should be performed by a competent person (section 3.1.25)

Reporting requirements:

  1. Contact the Animal Welfare Officer/Animal House Manager  promptly
  2. Complete an Adverse Incident Report  (DOC, 47.0 KB) and send it to the AEC Office

Complaints concerning the AEC

Complaints may be made concerning the AEC process of review of an application or report.

Complaints may be raised by any person or group, including investigators, animal carers, AEC, AEC members, students, employees of the Institution and members of the public.

How to submit a complaint concerning AEC process of review:
  • Complaints should be made in writing to the AEC secretary, and should clearly identify the basis of the complaint
Procedure of review:

The full procedure for reviewing a complaint concerning AEC process of review can be found in the AEC procedures manual. A summary of procedure is described below.

  1. The AEC Chair and the Manager, Ethics and Biosafety will meet with complainant to discuss and attempt to resolve the matter.
  2. If the matter is not resolved, the Manager, Ethics and Biosafety will conduct a full investigation.
  3. The Manager, Ethics and Biosafety must determine whether due process was followed in the review of an application and prepare a report of the investigation. The report will be forward to the AEC.
  4. Following the review, the AEC may need to review its processes in reaching its decision regarding the application, and re-evaluate its decision in light of the reviewed process. The ultimate decision regarding the ethical acceptability of an activity lies with the AEC and must not be overridden (section 5.6 Code)
  5. Referral to external agency: If the complaint has not been resolved by the above process, Deakin will identify a person or agency external to the University to whom a person can refer the complaint.

Need help? 

If you have any questions or concerns with any of the information above, please do not hesitate to contact the Animal Ethics Office.

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