By law, animal research must not be carried out in Tasmania unless it is by a licensed institution (section 27(1) of the
Animal Welfare Act 1993
). Institutions can only be licensed if, amongst other things, they have an Animal Ethics Committee (AEC), which is constituted in accordance with the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes 8th edition (2013, "the Code".)
Institutions that do not have their own AEC may consider accessing an external AEC or sharing with another institution. The DPIPWE
web page provides information on animal research licences.
The Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) has established an AEC which is constituted in accordance with the Code of Practice. DPIPWE is also licensed to carry out animal research.
Before a licensed institution engages in animal research, the research must first be approved by an AEC. Only those projects for which animal use is essential and justified and which conform to the principles of the Code of Practice can be approved.
According to the Code of Practice (section 2.3):
The primary responsibility of an AEC is to ensure, on behalf of the institution for which it acts, that
all activities relating to the care and use of animals are conducted in compliance with the Code.
(The AEC must) review applications for projects and approve only those projects that are ethically
acceptable and conform to the requirements of the Code.
In practical terms, this means the role of the AEC is to:
- Define the legitimate purposes for which animals may be used;
- Decide how to exercise control over allowable levels of pain and stress in animals used for research;
- Monitor and inspect or delegate inspection of facilities, project activities and records;
- Uphold the practice of humane standards of animal husbandry, use and care;
- Actively encourage the principles of the Code of Practice;
- Ensure effective public accountability; and
- Maintain an accurate register of approved projects and investigators.
The DPIPWE AEC considers project proposals that involve animal research from within the Department, and for a number of approved external institutions whose research with animals has been assessed as having a significant public benefit. Project proposals that come before the DPIPWE AEC comprise mostly conservation research, research with a significant public benefit, and research required to support environmental assessments.