Australian regulations relating to animal use in research and teaching
It is widely believed that the animals used in government sanctioned experiments are protected from cruelty and suffering through State or Territory Animal Welfare Acts, the National Medical Health and Research Council (NHMRC)'s Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes, and the Animal Ethics Committees associated with each research institution, whose task is to scrutinise every proposed use of an animal in an experiment.
Sadly, however, these mechanisms fail to prevent cruelty and suffering from occurring. They fail because the medical and scientific researchers, and the facilities they work in, are for the most part self-regulated. There is no independent assessment, little transparency, and next to no accountability within the industry.
In fact, the federal government, through the NHMRC, hands out hundreds of millions of dollars every year, yet has no independent assessment procedures in place to review the outcomes of the research it has funded, nor does it take responsibility for ensuring its own code of practice is adhered to by the scientists conducting the experiments.
Following is a summary of the principle legislation, regulations, and guidelines that relate to animal use in research and teaching in Australia.
State and Territory Legislation
State and Territory legislation specifically relating to the use of animals in research and teaching:
Victoria: Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (ss 25-36 - scientific procedures and breeding)
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008 (ss 90-102 - scientific procedures and breeding)
New South Wales: Animal Research Act 1985 (accreditation of research establishments, animal suppliers' licenses)
Animal Research Regulations 2010 (accreditation and licensing, breeding)
Australian Capital Territory: Animal Welfare Act 1992 (ss 25-50 - research, teaching and breeding)
Animal Welfare Regulations 2001 (ss 6-7 - research, teaching and breeding)
Northern Territory: Animal Welfare Act (ss 29-55 - teaching or research involving animals)
Animal Welfare Regulations (ss 4A-5 - teaching or research involving animals)
Tasmania: Animal Welfare Act 1993 (ss 27-35 - animal research, suppliers of animals for research)
Animal Welfare (General) Regulations 2013 (s 7 - Inspector may determine if procedure is animal welfare)
Queensland: Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (ss 48-93 - using animals for scientific purposes)
South Australia: Animal Welfare Act 1985 (ss 16-22 - licenses for teaching and research involving animals)
Animal Welfare Regulations 2012 (ss 11-13 - teaching and research involving animals)
Western Australia: Animal Welfare Act 2002 (ss 6-18 - use of animals for scientific purposes)
Animal Welfare (Scientific Purposes) Regulations 2003 (licensing the use or supply of animals for scientific purposes)
All research conducted in Australia that is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) must comply with:
- the Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes (currently in the 8th 2013 edition) (the Code)
and, if the research involves the use of non-human primates:
- the NHMRC Policy on the Care and Use of Non-Human Primates for Scientific Purposes (the Policy), which governs the use of primates in teaching and research.
PLEASE NOTE: ‘The ethical framework and governing principles set out in the Code provide guidance for investigators, teachers, institutions, animal ethics committees and all people involved in the care and use of animals for scientific purposes’. However, compliance with the Code is only formally required if:
(a) the research is funded by the NHMRC. (Compliance with the Code is a prerequisite for receipt of NHMRC funding.)
(b) compliance with the Code has been incorporated into the relevant aforementioned state or territory legislation. (The Code may be adopted in whole or in part, or not at all.)
Also see a list of NHMRC guidelines relating to the use of animals in research and teaching here, including the NHMRC Guidelines on the Care of Cats Used for Scientific Purposes (2009), Guidelines on the Care of Cats Used for Scientific Purposes (2009), and A Guide to the care and use of Australian native mammals in research and teaching, among others.
Cosmetics Animal Testing
Cosmetics are regulated by the Department of Health (Minister of Health and Ageing), and the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) under the authority of the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989 (the IC(NA) Act). NICNAS also administers the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Regulations 1990 and the Cosmetics Standard 2007.
» The Act defines a “cosmetic” as “a substance or preparation intended for placement in contact with any external part of the human body, including: the mucous membranes of the oral cavity and the teeth; with a view to: altering the odours of the body; or changing its appearance; or cleansing it; or maintaining it in good condition; or perfuming it; or protecting it; but does not include a therapeutic good within the meaning of the Therapeutic Goods Act, 1989.”