Awareness of animal experimentation is increasing – and Australians are not happy!

An opinion poll commissioned by Humane Research Australia has revealed that awareness of animal experimentation is increasing – and Australians are not happy!

The survey was conducted by Nexus Research in April 2018 and revealed the following key points:

  • More people (71% of respondents) are now aware that animal experiments occur in Australia - an increase from 57% in our 2013 survey.
  • However, only 37% are aware that monkeys are used.
  • 70% oppose the use of dogs in research and 63% oppose the use of monkeys.
  • Only 45% believe that animals are necessary for the development of human medicine. This has declined from 50% in 2013 and 59% in 2008.
  • Only 23% believe that humans have the moral right to experiment on animals, while 60% do not believe humans have the right and 17% are uncertain.
  • 69% of respondents believe that lab animals must be given the opportunity to be re-homed following their use in research (providing of course they are not too traumatised or physically/mentally damaged to live a normal life), (a further 17% of people were uncertain).
  • 59% would not donate to a health or medical research charity if they knew it was funding animal experimentation (a further 23% did not know).
  • 67% support allocating a proportion of medical research grants to finding scientific alternatives to animal experiments (a further 21% were uncertain).
  • 38% of respondents believe the number of animals used in Australian research (7-10 million annually) is totally unacceptable, 44% think it is capable of considerable or some reduction and 8% don’t know.
  • 81% felt governments do not provide sufficient information on the extent of animal experimentation in Australia.


As expected, there was greater opposition to using dogs and primates compared with rabbits and rodents, and opposition to the use of all animals increased depending on the level of severity/physical impact on the animals.

Animal experimentation is slowly being exposed and Humane Research Australia will continue shining the spotlight on this secretive industry. Until there is more awareness through greater transparency, it will never be possible to have an honest and open debate about the ethics nor the efficacy of animal experiments.


Methodology:

During April 2018, 1006 interviews were conducted with people aged 16 years and older in the States and Territories of Australia as outlined in the following table.  The sample was quota controlled by age and gender, and selected in proportion to the population aged 16+ years in each State/Territory.

The interviews were conducted utilising an on-line panel representative of the Australian population.  The questionnaire link was emailed to a general population sample of people aged 16+ years to complete from the 23rd to the 29th April 2018.  The interviewing period coincided with World Day for Animals in Laboratories which was the 24th April 2018.

The selected sample was weighted to represent almost 19.7 million people aged 16 years and over in the States/Territories of Australia.

Sample Aged 16+ Years

April 2018

Selected Sample

Weighted Sample (000’s)*

New South Wales

309

6,307

Victoria

256

5,087

Queensland

206

3,901

South Australia

82

1,398

Western Australia

106

 2,048

Tasmania

25

421

Northern Territory

7

189

ACT.

15

328

Total

1,006

19,679

* Source: ABS June 2017

A sample of 1,006 respondents provides reliable results with a margin of error of not more than ±3% (at the 95% confidence level).  For example, if the answer in the sample is 60%, the true answer in the population will almost certainly be between 57% and 63%.  Care should be taken when reviewing smaller sample sizes e.g. within Territories, as the margin of error increases as the sample size reduces. 

The questionnaire for the HRA survey had consistent questions to the one utilized during May 2013, with updates altered/added where appropriate.  A copy of the 2018 questionnaire is appended at the end of this report.  On average each interview took less than 10 minutes to complete.

Once the interviews were completed, data on each question was tabulated to provide information for the total sample, by State/Territory, gender, age groups, household status, work status and income.  An Excel file of the detailed tables was provided for the client and utilized as the basis for this report. 


Questions:

  • Are you aware that animals are used in experimental research in Australia these days?
  • What sorts of animals do you think are commonly used in experimental research in Australia these days?
  • In fact quite a wide variety of animals, including monkeys and other primates, are used in experimental research in Australia these days. Were you aware that monkeys are used this way in Australia?
  • To what extent would you support or oppose the use of animals in research for the following purposes? Developing household products; developing pharmaceuticals for people; environmental research; basic/scientific research; teaching/educational purposes; testing of cosmetics and toiletries.
  • Thinking about medical research (Pharmaceutical and Scientific), to what extent do you support or oppose the use of animals in medical research if the animals used are: Rodents; primates; dogs; rabbits.
  • To what extent would you support or oppose the use of animals in medical research if the animals were involved in: Observational studies involving minor interference; Procedures causing some discomfort to the animal; Procedures causing a major physiological change to the animal; Procedures requiring the death of the animal?
  • Do you believe that animal experiments are necessary for the development of medicines for humans?
  • Are you aware of any current alternatives instead of using animals in research for human medicines? 
  • Do you believe that it is safe to transfer results from animal research (e.g. from rabbits, mice, rats and dogs) to apply to humans?            
  • Do you believe that new technologies (e.g. microdosing or computer modelling) are more reliable or less reliable than using animal experiments for human medical research?           
  • Do you believe that humans have the moral right to experiment on animals?
  • Would you donate to a health or medical research charity if you knew it was funding animal experiments?          
  • Were you aware that the drugs Thalidomide, Vioxx, DES, TGN1312 and Celebrex were “successfully” tested on animals and caused serious problems when transferred to humans?
  • Figures collected from state authorities show that approximately 7 million animals a year are used in research and teaching in Australia. Australia has been quoted as the fourth highest user of animals behind China, Japan and the United States of America. Do you view the Australian number as acceptable?
  • Do you believe that lab animals must be given the opportunity to be rehomed following their use in research (providing of course they are not too traumatised or physically/mentally damaged to live a normal life)?         
  • To what extent would you support: Using scientific alternatives to the killing of animals in research; Allocating a proportion of medical research grants to finding scientific alternatives to animal experiments?
  • Do you consider that our governments provide sufficient information to understand the extent of animal experimentation in Australia?

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