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Public Statements Concerning Animal Use

Approving Authority:

University Research Committee

Establishment Date:

6 March 1997

Date Last Amendment:

Nature of Amendment:

Date Last Reviewed:

Responsible Officer:

Director, Office of Research

Introduction

The University has a policy on public statements which requires official statements in the name of the University to be authorised by named officers of the University. Whilst the policy covers all facets of University business, there is a need for specific guidelines in respect of matters relating to the use of animals in research and teaching. While outside scrutiny of the Office of Animal Welfare and the Animal Welfare Committee of the NHMRC is important for maintaining standards, individual researchers should not be put in a position of having to endure public scrutiny. Where individuals wish to comment on their own area of research they are able to do so, and the University policy explicitly permits this to occur.

Requests for Information about Animal Experimentation

The University supports the position adopted by the SA Office of Animal Welfare, that the public has the right of access to SA State collated generic statistics on:

  • species used;
  • broad purpose of the project;
  • the most invasive type of procedure undertaken;
  • number of animals;
  • whether scavenged tissues were used; and
  • any initiatives taken to reduce, refine or replace animal numbers.

This University collects annual statistics on the above categories and submits these to the Office of Animal Welfare. These statistics are published annually for public information.

The SA Office of Animal Welfare has adopted the approach that the following information, as it relates to animal experimentation, would not normally be made available to the public:

  • names and addresses of experimenters, institutions and departments;
  • departmental reports and correspondence;
  • names of members of animal ethics committees;
  • documents affecting business affairs;
  • documents communicated in confidence; and
  • documents affecting the conduct of research

In light of this, the University would not normally release such information to the public.

These principles are generally consistent with the Freedom of Information Act. However, it should be noted that applications for access to information concerning animal use may be made under the Act. Any such application will be treated in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

The University's policy on public statements encourages staff to have contact with the media within their areas of academic expertise and there is no intention to limit the effect of that policy. However, due to the sensitive nature of animal experimentation, the administrative procedures outlined below will apply.

1

ENQUIRIES

Persons making telephone enquiries concerning animal experimentation should be asked to submit a request in writing to the Chairperson of the Animal Welfare Committee in order that a properly considered response can be provided. Individual members of staff should not attempt to respond to enquiries and no discussion of issues should be entered into by telephone. All written enquiries are to be directed to the Chairperson of the Animal Welfare Committee.

2

RESPONSES TO ENQUIRIES

The Chairperson of the AWC will decide on the appropriate action to be taken. In order to ensure University-wide understanding and co-ordination of any issue relating to animal experimentation, a copy of the final response will be sent to any or all of the following*:

  • Vice-Chancellor
  • Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)
  • Dean, School of Medicine or School of Biological Sciences
  • Chief Executive Officer, Flinders Medical Centre
  • Chair, of the relevant Animal Ethics Sub-Committee (Biology/Medicine)
  • Chair, Animal House Committee
  • the individual investigator (where appropriate)

*this circulation list should not be noted on the original reply.

3

MEDIA

Requests from the media concerning animal experimentation should be forwarded to the Chair of the Animal Welfare Committee unless the request relates to an investigator's own research. The Chair will consult with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), senior University personnel and the Public Relations and Information Office, where appropriate, before responding to such requests.

4

The University will follow the approach taken by the SA Office of Animal Welfare and will not normally release the following information:

  • names and addresses of experimenters, institutions and departments;
  • departmental reports and correspondence;
  • names of members of animal ethics committees;
  • documents affecting business affairs;
  • documents communicated in confidence; and
  • documents affecting the conduct of research

5

The University's policy is not to acknowledge the existence of a particular project when dealing with external (non-grant providing) bodies unless the consent of the researcher involved has been obtained.