Terms of Reference

These are the Terms of Reference of the Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) at CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL).

The Animal Ethics Committee's composition, terms of reference, role and responsibilities, and operating procedures conform to the requirements of the current Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes ("the Australian Code of Practice"), the Victorian Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 ("the Act"), and the Victorian Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 2008 ("the Regulations"). The AEC is accountable to the Director, CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory.

1. Composition of the AEC

1.1 The Committee comprises at least one person from each of the following membership categories:

  • Category A: a person with a qualification in veterinary science that is registrable in Australia and with experience relevant to the diagnostic and research activities of CSIRO AAHL or the ability to acquire relevant knowledge
  • Category B: a suitably qualified person with substantial and recent experience in the use of animals for scientific purposes relevant to CSIRO AAHL, including possession of a higher degree in research or equivalent experience
  • Category C: a person with demonstrable commitment to, and established experience in, furthering the welfare of animals, who is not employed by or otherwise associated with CSIRO AAHL, and who is not currently involved in the care and use of animals for scientific purposes. This person may be a veterinarian with specific animal welfare interests and experience.
  • Category D: a person not employed or otherwise associated with CSIRO AAHL and who has never been involved in the use of animals in scientific or teaching activities in their employment or beyond their undergraduate education. The person does not fit the requirements of any other category.
  • Additional members to assist the AEC to function effectively: a person responsible for the routine care of animals within CSIRO AAHL

1.2 Categories C and D together represent no less than one third of the AEC membership.

1.3 Category B members are nominated by the relevant Research Director, Biosecurity Flagship, or the Manager, Diagnosis Surveillance and Response in the National Facility. Category A members may be nominated by the relevant Research Director, Biosecurity Flagship, or the Manager, Diagnosis Surveillance and Response in the National Facility, or sourced via external networks or advertisement. Category C and D members are sourced via external networks or advertisement. Category E members are nominated by managers of the CSIRO AAHL animal facilities.

1.4 Appointments are endorsed by the AEC and are effective until the member retires voluntarily from the Committee or following a decision in writing by the delegate of the Chief Executive of CSIRO with oversight of the CSIRO AAHL AEC. In the case of Category B members, their retirement or resignation from CSIRO will require them to step down from the Committee.

1.5 Members declare any perceived or actual conflicts of interest in respect of Committee business, and remove themselves from the meeting room during the AEC’s decision making on matters relating to that conflict of interest

2. Chairperson

2.1 The Chairperson is appointed by the Nominated Person of the Scientific Procedures Premises Licence and is in addition to Category A to E members

3. Role and responsibilities

3.1 To ensure on behalf of CSIRO AAHL that all activities relating to the care and use of animals are conducted in compliance with the Code by means of:

  • Reviewing applications for projects involving animal care and use - including acquisition, transport, production, housing, care, monitoring, use and fate of animals - and approving only those projects that are ethically acceptable and conform to the requirements of the Code
  • Review applications for activities associated with the care and management of animals in facilities, including procedures applicable to breeding programs integral to the maintenance of an animal line, and approve only those activities that are ethically acceptable and conform to the requirements of the Code
  • Maintaining a record of proposals that is available for review by regulatory authorities
  • Requiring that accurate daily records of all animals used for scientific purposes held at CSIRO AAHL are maintained, including any instructions for special care that may be necessary 
  • Conducting follow-up review of approved projects and activities, and allow the continuation of approval for only those projects and activities that are ethically acceptable and conform to the requirements of the Code
  • Reviewing applications for modification of approved care and use activities, and approving only those modifications which meet the governing principles of the Code and conform to the requirements of the Code
  • Taking appropriate action regarding unexpected adverse events, including determination of root cause for the purpose of continuous improvement
  • Reviewing reports on care and use activities that have been discontinued or completed, including a focus on opportunities for improvement in future activities
  • Reviewing reports and comment on the daily care and use of animals, including housing conditions, practices and procedures. Such reports and comment may be provided to the AEC in a routine manner by the Animal Welfare Officer, or more informally to AEC members by animal care staff, CSIRO AAHL veterinarians, other research officers or people external to CSIRO on an ad hoc basis. 
  • Review of an activity where a concern has been expressed that there has been non-compliance with the conditions of approval of the activity will trigger further prompt investigation. Where the review indicates that there is the potential for adverse animal wellbeing then the activity will cease immediately while the investigation is being carried out. The outcomes of that investigation may include ongoing AEC approval for the activity, or the approval may be further qualified, suspended, or withdrawn.
  • Taking appropriate actions regarding non-compliance with the Code, including reporting to the Director CSIRO AAHL and the Nominated Person of the Scientific Procedures Premises Licence, and to the Manager, Licensing and Audit at Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries for information
  • Approving guidelines and providing advice to ensure that standards outlined in the Code for the care of animals that are bred, held, and used for scientific purposes on behalf of CSIRO AAHL are maintained
  • Participating in the development of guidelines for the use of animals in research through interaction with experts within and outside CSIRO AAHL
  • Providing advice and recommendations to CSIRO AAHL concerning, but not limited to, improvements in the standards for acquisition, transport, production, housing, care, use and fate of all animals used or held for research by CSIRO AAHL 
  • Abiding by the CSIRO AAHL AEC Grievance Procedures in respect of managing complaints concerning the AEC review process
  • Providing an annual written report to the Director, CSIRO AAHL in accordance with the requirements of the Code.

4. Method of operation

4.1 The Committee meets at least quarterly

4.2 Minutes shall be maintained by the CSIRO AAHL AEC Executive Officer

4.3 From time to time, the Committee may establish an Executive that will include the Chairperson and at least one member from Category C or D

4.4 The Executive may approve minor amendments to approved activities for ratification at the next AEC meeting, including and limited to those amendments where the proposed change is unlikely to cause pain, distress, or harm to the animals involved

4.5  A report on the animal facilities is made to each meeting of the Committee and this is normally prepared by the Animal Welfare Officer. In view of the limitations of access by Committee members to areas of the containment facility, participation of animal care staff and CSIRO veterinarians is strongly encouraged in Committee meetings for the purpose of providing feedback to AEC members on the facility infrastructure and standards of care

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