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Research or Teaching Involving Animals: Ethics and Compliance

The University of South Australia promotes and upholds best practice in animal welfare and in the conduct of animal-based research and teaching activities. The use of animals for research and teaching is regulated by the South Australian Animal Welfare Act 1985. The University of South Australia is licensed under the Act to acquire and use animals for research and teaching purposes.

"Research and teaching purposes" is defined as any activity that involves the use of live animals for the acquisition, development or demonstration of scientific knowledge or techniques. This definition covers the whole spectrum of research and teaching activity, from laboratory-based study to the observation and noting (without trapping or handling) of an animal's behaviour within its own habitat.

"Animal" is defined by the UniSA AEC, for these purposes, as any:

  • Non-human vertebrate (including mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians)
  • Cephalopod (e.g. octopus, squid and cuttlefish)
  • Decapod (such as crayfish, crabs, lobsters, prawns and shrimp)

Use of lower-order invertebrates (such as insects, worms, sponges or spiders) does not need AEC approval. However, if there is emerging evidence that a supposed "lower-order" animal may be sentient and able to experience pain and distress, AEC approval may be required for its use in research or teaching. Any enquiries as to whether or not use of an animal requires AEC approval should be submitted to the Animal Ethics Officer.

Members of the University of South Australia undertaking research or teaching activities involving the use of animals are required to abide by the terms of our Licence to use animals for research or teaching. These terms include:

  • The acquisition and use of animals for research or teaching purposes must not commence before approval to acquire or to use animals has been granted by an Animal Ethics Committee
  • The Animal Ethics Committee must be:
    • If the animals will be held captive, the Animal Ethics Committee established by the Institution that is responsible for the premises in which the animals will be held*
    • If the animals will not be held captive, the Animal Ethics Committee established by the Institution which employs or engages the Primary Applicant on the application for Animal Ethics Committee*

* At present, any projects involving University of Adelaide students or staff must also be submitted to and approved by the appropriate University of Adelaide AEC

The Terms of Reference for the AEC are available on request.

The procedures for handling concerns and grievances regarding AEC rulings and for managing non-compliance can be accessed here.