Researchers, including students, who wish to undertake research involving animal subjects, must obtain approval from the relevant committee before commencing the experiments.
Do I need ethics approval?
You must obtain ethics approval from the Flinders University Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) before commencing any research or teaching activities involving the use of animals. The term animals refers to live non-human vertebrates (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals), cephalopods such as octopus and squid, and certain groups of decapod crustaceans. This definition encompasses domestic animals, purpose-bred animals, livestock and wildlife.
If your work involves animals not covered by the Code, or any tissues/samples/data obtained from any animals (regardless of whether they are covered by the Code or not), then the project must first be added to the Register. For more information regarding the Register, please read the Register Guidelines.
Flinders University takes its responsibility to animal welfare seriously. Through its Animal Welfare Committee (AWC), the University strives to uphold best practices in animal-based science. The AWC was established under the Animal Welfare Act, 1985 and operates in accordance with the Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes, 2013.
All applications must be submitted through one of the two AWC sub-committees:
- Researchers with projects aligned to the College of Medicine and Public Health should apply to the Animal Ethics Review Sub-Committee (AERSC).
- Researchers with projects aligned to the College of Science and Engineering should apply to the Animal Welfare Sub-Committee (AWS-C).
The Sub-Committees assist the AWC by reviewing the scientific merit of applications, and provide recommendations for revision to researchers before their application is reviewed by the AWC. The Sub-Committees are composed entirely of Flinders researchers, who work on a volunteer basis.
Following Sub-Committee review, applications are then reviewed by the AWC. The AWC is composed of a range of volunteers,many of whom are completely independent to Flinders University and have no science background, including:
- Expert Flinders researchers
- Animal welfare organisation representatives
- Independent community representatives
In addition to ensuring that all approved research undertaken at Flinders University meets with current legislation, guidelines, policies and directives with regard to ethical and safe practices in research, the AWC is responsible for ensuring that all research involving the use of animals:
- Is worthwhile and likely to contribute to new knowledge,
- Is conducted and supervised appropriately, and
- Protects the rights of the experimental animals.
Oversight of research ethics and safety at Flinders University is carried out in conjunction with the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network (which includes the Flinders Medical Centre, Noarlunga Health Service, and Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia).
Licences for teaching, research or experimentation involving animals
It is the responsibility of the researcher to ensure that all necessary permits and licences are in place prior to commencing any research or teaching activity involving animals. Severe penalties may be imposed if appropriate licences are not obtained.
Flinders University is licensed under Section 17 (2) of the Animal Welfare Act, 1985 to use animals for teaching, research or experimentation purposes. A condition of licence is that the acquisition and use must first be approved by Flinders University Animal Welfare Committee (AWC).
Work involving animals in the wild also requires a Scientific Permit from the SA Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) and/or from Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA). Further information on how to obtain a Scientific Permit can be found here.
Other Australian States and Territories
The requirements for the acquisition and use of animals vary between the Australian States and Territories. In some cases, you may need to obtain a licence, in addition to obtaining approval from the Flinders Animal Welfare Committee (AWC).
Where an individual licence is required, the cost is to be covered by the research project. If multiple researchers require licences to work within a single jurisdiction, they will share the cost of a licence for the relevant period. In the first instance, please check requirements for the area/s in which you intend to work and then contact the Executive Officer to determine whether a licence is already in place.
It is the responsibility of the researcher to ensure that all necessary permits and licences are in place prior to commencing any research or teaching activity involving animals in an overseas country.
The Role of the Animal Welfare Officer (AWO)
The University’s part-time Animal Welfare Officer (AWO) is based in the Research Services Office and is responsible for providing veterinary care and monitoring animal welfare within the University.
The AWO is responsible for ensuring that the use of animals for research and teaching complies with the highest standards of animal welfare required by the University, and with the Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes, 2013.
The role of the AWO includes providing advice to researchers on the design of experiments to ensure that these activities reflect humane and ethical treatment of animals.
Raising Concerns About Animal Welfare
Any staff, student or member of the public who has concerns about the well-being of animals held at Flinders University for use in research or teaching, or of wildlife involved in field studies conducted under the auspices of Flinders University, should contact the Animal Welfare Officer or the Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) Executive Officer who will ensure that the concern is reported.
Animal welfare concerns may include perceived:
- departure from the practice of humane and ethical treatment of animals in animal care facilities, laboratories or fieldwork locations
- breaches or non-compliance with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, Regulations or associated Codes of Practice
- breaches or non-compliance with the Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes or University policies and guidelines relating to research or teaching involving animals
All concerns are treated confidentially and every effort will be made to address matters raised in a timely fashion.
You can download further information about the
AWC Complaints and Enquiries (PDF 45KB) here.
Wildlife on Campus
If any staff member, student or visitor wishes to report an issue with any species of wildlife on the University campus, eg, snakes, birds, koalas etc please follow the advice on the Wildlife on Campus page.
Flinders University has two primary Animal Facilities located in the College of Medicine and Public Health and the College of Science and Engineering. The Manager of the appropriate facility should be contacted before you submit an Animal Ethics applications.
The College of Medicine and Public Health Animal Facility (SOMAF) has its own website with various important information for researchers who wish to use the facility.