Use of animals: guidelines and procedures when applying to the Animal Ethics Committee

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Urgent approvals

New applications are discussed each month at Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) meetings.

In genuine cases of extreme urgency, where there is a clear and reasonable explanation for why the applicant did not meet the previous meeting's deadline and cannot wait until the next meeting, urgent approval by memorandum may be sought.

The AEC expects this to be limited to rare cases of extreme urgency, as it obliges members to make a decision without the benefit of group discussion, which provides the information necessary to form a balanced view of all relevant scientific, ethical and animal welfare issues.

Applicants should contact the Animal Ethics Office via email.

These guidelines will assist you with your application to the Animal Ethics Committee.

  1. Policy
  2. The application process
  3. Application forms


Please ensure you also read the UWA policy on the Use of Animals in Research and Teaching.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2002 (WA) and the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes, 8th edition 2013 (the Code), all UWA and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (SCGH) staff members and students who wish to use animals for research, teaching, training or breeding must have current Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) approval.

Animal Ethics Committee approval is also needed by others who use animals obtained through UWA or SCGH, or who use UWA or SCGH animal facilities for research, teaching or breeding.

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The application process

Individuals using animals must also possess current Permission to Use Animals (PUA) approval, which is obtained by completing a Permission to Use Animals Application form:

The application form should be written in lay terms to enable all members, including non-scientific members, to understand it. This ensures that the Committee is able to weigh the scientific or educational value of the study against the potential effects on the welfare of the animals, as required by the Code.

Applicants who are submitting an application for the first time are strongly encouraged to send a draft copy to the Animal Welfare and Veterinary Advisor/s (AWVA) for review and advice via email to [email protected]



The Committee meets monthly to consider applications. Applications submitted after the due date will not be considered until the next meeting.

Application outcomes

Consideration of an application by the AEC will normally result in one of the following outcomes:

  • Approved
  • Requires modification
  • Resubmission of the application
  • Denied approval.
The application is approved

In this case the Chief Investigator will be informed in writing and given an approval number/ID, which is needed to order animals.

The application requires modification

This occurs when the AEC has minor concerns or queries which require clarification, but is willing to approve the application once the Chair of the AEC is satisfied that the concerns have been adequately addressed.

The Chief Investigator will be sent a letter asking for a response to the AEC's concerns.

Sometimes the applicant is invited to contact a member of the AEC, the Animal Welfare Officer (AWO) or the Animal Welfare and Veterinary Advisor (AWVA) to discuss the Committee's concerns and obtain assistance in responding. Once received, the applicant's reply is referred to the Chair for approval. Once approved, the Chief Investigator is informed in writing and given an approval number/ID as above.

Animal work cannot start until final approval is given.

Resubmission of the application

Where the AEC has a number of concerns about several, generally significant, aspects of the application, to the extent that a fair proportion of the application requires modification, the applicant will be asked to make changes and resubmit the proposal. This often occurs where the AEC is unable to assess the proposal's potential impact upon animals or to understand adequately the experimental procedures because a section of the application is unclear or not sufficiently written in lay terms.

In this case a letter is sent to the Chief Investigator asking for a resubmission addressing the points of concern raised by the AEC. The applicant is invited to contact the Animal Ethics Office to discuss the Committee's concerns and obtain assistance in responding to these. The full AEC then considers the resubmission at the meeting following its receipt.

The application is denied approval

This is rare and will occur where the AEC is of the opinion that the work proposed contravenes existing legislation, such as the Animal Welfare Act 2002 (WA) or the Code.

Approval period and conditions

Applications are generally approved in accordance with the funding period up to a maximum period of five years, subject to:

This applies to all research, teaching and breeding applications.

Once an application has been approved, the AEC will not as a general rule require any alterations to the animal work other than in exceptional circumstances. These may include, for example: changes in the legislative climate; unexpected and unanticipated animal welfare problems; failure of the original application to disclose all procedures or their welfare implications; problems with skills or training of personnel.

The Animal Ethics Office should be contacted for clarification as to whether a proposed change needs to be a Minor or Major amendment.


Specific UWA policies and guidelines.

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Application forms

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