University Policy on: The Use of Animals in Research and Teaching

A focus on research of an international quality and the fostering of an outstanding research culture have positioned UWA as one of the best universities in Australia and in the top 150 in the world.

Policy No.
Authoring Organisational Unit
Research Ethics and Integrity - Office of Research Enterprise
Date Approved
21/09/2009 Revised 02/10/2013
Next Review Date
Approving Body

The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: The Use of Animals in Research and Teaching

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

This policy statement is intended to confirm that The University of Western Australia supports the use of animals in research and teaching where justified, and to reassure animal and non-animal users alike, both inside and outside the University, that animal use is properly governed and conforms to the highest ethical standards.


the Code is the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes, 8 th Edition, 2013

Animal Welfare Act is the Animal Welfare Act (2002) of Western Australia

the 3Rs refers to the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes

the Ethical Review is the process of review and approval to use animals at The University of Western Australia, namely:




Education and Training is of staff and students for the use of animals in research and teaching.

Permission to Use Animals is confirmation of competency and training in the use of animals for research and teaching

the University is The University of Western Australia.

Policy statement:

1 Aims

1.1 A range of excellent, exciting and high impact research is being carried out at The University, including biomedical research, agricultural research and native animal physiology and behavioural studies. The outcomes have had, and will continue to have, profound impacts on the understanding, treatment and cure of major human and animal health problems; agricultural productivity, sustainability and ethical practice; and the management and conservation of native wildlife. Work involving animals must continue for further fundamental advances to be made. However, new methods have enabled scientists and medical researchers to reduce the mortality of animals in the course of research.

1.2 The use of animals in teaching and training is an essential part of the University's teaching programme, where practical alternatives do not exist, to demonstrate complex fundamental principles at the standard expected of a leading university and, particularly, to provide practical training to the level required by the employers of its graduates.

1.3 The University actively encourages its research and teaching community to pursue alternatives to the use of animals. Where such alternatives do not exist or are inadequate, the care and use of animals must be conducted with respect and to the highest ethical standards.

1.4 The University will provide the best possible accommodation and care for its animals, delivered by professionally trained and specialist staff who are committed to a culture of care. All those using animals in research or teaching, whether they are staff or students, will treat them with consideration and respect in accordance with a culture of care that is an integral element of good science.

2 The 3Rs

2.1 The University is committed to ensuring that all those involved in animal-based research or teaching are proactive in pursuing the principles of Replacement, Reduction and Refinement (the 3Rs), engage in the ethical review process and fulfil their moral and legal responsibilities under the Code and the Animal Welfare Act.

2.1.1 Replacement The University is committed to ensuring that animals are used only when there is no appropriate alternative, by:

  • Requiring applicants for project ethics approval to demonstrate that they have given consideration to non-animal methods and to fully justify the use of animals;
  • Supporting the continued development of non-animal methods, such as computer modelling and simulation, and advanced tissue culture and biochemical techniques for studying, for example, drug toxicology, where such in vitro techniques are able to provide insight into the response of the integrated animal system;
  • Promoting awareness of non-animal methods through the ethical review process and other mechanisms.

2.1.2 Reduction The University is committed to ensuring that researchers and teachers use the minimum number of animals needed to meet their scientific and training objectives, by:

  • Requiring applicants for project ethics approval to fully justify the number of animals requested in order to produce statistically significant outcomes;
  • Ensuring that investigations are not unnecessarily repeated;
  • Providing researchers with professional statistical advice;
  • Managing breeding programmes to avoid or minimise the production of surplus animals;
  • Promoting the sharing of animal tissue where possible and placement of material in museum collections.

2.1.3 Refinement The University is committed to achieving the highest possible standards of animal care and welfare, by:

  • Requiring applicants for project ethics approval to fully reflect upon refinement of techniques, investigate alternatives and to implement refinements whenever possible;
  • Providing the best possible standards of animal accommodation and care;
  • Promoting awareness of best practice through education, training and the ethical review process;
  • Monitoring closely any unexpected adverse events and adapting techniques accordingly;
  • Avoiding or minimising pain and distress in animals through the appropriate use of anaesthetics, analgesics, high standards of accommodation and care, and the use of minimal impact field observation, trapping and handling techniques for wild animals;
  • Ensuring that procedures are of minimal duration to achieve the objectives of the project, and avoiding death as an endpoint wherever possible.

3 The Ethical Review Process

3.1 The University is committed to a rigorous process of ethical review that requires researchers and teachers to justify their use of animals and ensures that the conduct of projects conforms to the moral and legal requirements of the Code and the State Animal Welfare Act.

3.2 All applications for projects require ethics approval through the University's Animal Ethics Committee (AEC), constituted in accordance with the Code. Specifically, the AEC includes external members who are representative of animal welfare organisations and lay members of the general community. Equally importantly, the AEC is a mechanism for supporting and assisting researchers and teachers to meet their obligations under the 3Rs by making them aware of alternatives and refinements that have been applied in other projects, and approving pilot projects specifically aimed at refining a process or technique.

3.3 The AEC monitors project progress and conduct through regular reporting requirements, separate reporting of adverse events and unexpected deaths, facility inspections and meetings with individual researchers, teachers and research groups. The Committee has the authority to withdraw approval for a project at any time if it deems that ethical obligations are not being met.

3.4 In addition, the University maintains the roles of Animal Welfare Officer, Animal Welfare and Veterinary Advisor, Biological Safety Officer and Biological Compliance Officer in order to assist researchers and teachers in preparing applications for ethics approval, refining techniques, addressing urgent matters that may impact on animal welfare and monitoring progress and conduct of projects.

4 Education and Training

4.1 The University is committed to ensuring that all those working with animals are knowledgeable about the Code and the legal framework imposed by the State Animal Welfare Act, and possess the necessary skills to meet their moral and legal obligations to the care of animals.

4.2 This is achieved by:

  • Providing high quality training for those who will be using animals and opportunities for refresher courses to enable them to update their skills;
  • Accrediting the preparation to work with animals through a formal "Permission to Use Animals" certification;
  • Providing expert animal welfare, veterinary and biological safety advisory staff to assist with project development, conduct and monitoring.
  • Using the ethics review process to propagate knowledge of changing techniques, drugs and procedures.

Related forms: (Link)

TRIM File No:


Contact position:

Associate Director, Research Ethics and Biosafety Office

Related Policies or legislation: