Frequently Asked Questions
The University of Newcastle is committed to the highest standard of ethical practice in animal based teaching and research.
The University has established an Animal Care & Ethics Committee to oversee the care and use of animals, and to ensure that these activities meet the requirements of the regulatory framework. The ACEC plays an important role in reviewing applications for research and teaching where animals are involved. The ACEC is also responsible for monitoring approved activities in accordance with legislative requirements. The ACEC has a specific Animal Care and Ethics Committee Procedure which governs the Committee in its decision-making and review of animal use in research.
The Animal Care and Ethics Committee (ACEC) reports to the University of Newcastle Council, the primary governing body of the University of Newcastle. The ACEC is responsible for the consideration of ethical and welfare aspects as well as the scientific or educational value of the use of animals for research and teaching purposes.
Its membership includes the following categories that are defined in the Australian Code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes 8th edition 2013:
- Category A: Veterinarians - persons with qualifications in veterinary science that are recognised for registration as a veterinary surgeon in Australia, and with experience relevant to the University’s activities or the ability to acquire relevant knowledge.
- Category B: Researchers - persons with substantial and recent experience in the use of animals for scientific purposes relevant to the institution and the business of the ACEC. This must include possession of a higher degree in research or equivalent experience.
- Category C: Animal welfare members - persons with demonstrable commitment to, and established experience in, furthering the welfare of animals, who is not employed by or otherwise associated with the institution, and who is not currently involved in the care and use of animals for scientific purposes. Veterinarians with specific animal welfare interest and experience may meet the requirements of this category. While not representing an animal welfare organisation, the person should, where possible, be selected on the basis of active membership of, and endorsement by, such an organisation.
- Category D: Independent members - persons not employed by or otherwise associated with the institution and who has never been involved in the use of animals in scientific or teaching activities, either in their employment or beyond their undergraduate education. Category D members should be viewed by the wider community as bringing a completely independent view to the ACEC, and must not fit the requirements of any other category.
The humane use of animals in research is used to advance scientific understanding, as models to study disease, to develop and test new medical treatments and to protect the safety of people, animals and the environment.
Many of the world’s most important medical breakthroughs would not have been possible without humane animal experimentation. Nobel Prize-winning breakthroughs have occurred thanks to animal research: these include the discovery of penicillin, vaccines, antibiotics, chemotherapy, organ transplants and the role of HPV and HIV in causing disease.
In some studies examining human disease, there is an opportunity to research these illnesses in an environment that simulates human biological function and minimise misleading results given using non-animal methods. The similarity of some mouse-human biological systems means that human disease in these systems can be better understood by observing effects on mouse models.
Animal research is strictly regulated, with approval only granted for animal research when the information cannot be obtained in any other way. The results need to be considered sufficiently important to justify the use of animals.
Researchers must adhere to rigorous ethical, scientific and legal guidelines when utilising animals in their work.
The NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) provides support and advice on animal ethics, which can be used in conjunction with the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes. This code promotes ‘the ethical, humane and responsible care for use of animals for scientific purposes.’
All UON researchers who work with animals in their research must adhere to the duty of care outlined by the University of Newcastle Animal Care and Ethics Committee: a team (ACEC) which oversees the care and use of animals in research and teaching at UON.
Before any animal can be used for research or training purposes approval must be obtained from the ACEC.
Animals are kept and treated humanely to limit and stress they may experience. They’re well-fed, well housed and kept infection free.
The University’s Animal Services Unit routinely monitors the health of the animals held in its facilities. The Animal Welfare Officer can provide advice on monitoring protocols, interpretation of results and advice on the health of imported animals.