The use of vertebrate animals for research in Victoria is regulated by part 3 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 1997. Under the Act, the conduct of Scientific Procedures using animals in Victoria must be licensed by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI), furthermore, institutions that perform Scientific Procedures on Specified Animals must establish an Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) as outlined in the ‘Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes’, to examine and approve the procedures conducted on animals.
Museums Victoria has in place an Animal Ethics Committee which oversees all research activity involving live animals. As per the Department of Primary Industries’ requirements, the AEC is comprised of representatives from each of the following categories:
- Category A:
Veterinary surgeon with experience relevant to the activities of the institution
- Category B:
Scientist or teacher with substantial recent experience in animal based research or teaching
- Category C:
A person with demonstrable commitment to, and established experience in, furthering the welfare of animals and who is independent of the institution
- Category D:
Layperson who has never engaged in animal experimentation beyond their undergraduate education and who is independent of the institution
The MV AEC meets four times per year to examine, review, approve or reject written applications detailing proposed projects involving potential capture, handling, housing, transport or humane killing of animals specified under the Act. The MV AEC reports on its activities to the Museums Board of Victoria through the Board’s Research Committee.
Museums Victoria also annually reports on animals used for research purposes to the Bureau of Animal Welfare. In March 2010, an independent audit of our activities involving the use of animals for scientific purposes was conducted on behalf of the Bureau of Animal Welfare. The audit found that the MV AEC “is addressing the management of animal welfare issues in a thorough and constructive manner”.
Standard Operating Procedures
The Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes approves the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for use by an institution in its research involving live animals.
Museums Victoria has developed two sets of SOPs:
- Manual of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the Ethical Use of Live Terrestrial Vertebrate Animals by Staff and Associates of Museums Victoria
- Manual of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the Ethical Use of Live Aquatic Animals – fishes, cephalopods (octopus, cuttlefish, nautilus, squid and their allies) and decapod crustaceans (crabs, crayfish, lobsters, prawns, shrimps and their allies) by Staff and Associates of Museums Victoria
The SOP manuals provide guidelines for the ethical treatment of terrestrial vertebrates and specified aquatic animals. They are not intended as comprehensive documents providing the finer details of particular methodologies and equipment use, but instead focus on ethical practice specifically as it relates to animals relevant to Museums Victoria’s activities. The documents do not contain guidelines for procedures which fall outside the scope of Museums Victoria’s activities (eg working with large mammals or using techniques or procedures employed in medical research). Staff submitting proposals to the MV AEC must adhere to the procedures and methodologies which are contained in these manuals. If a research project contains specific techniques not detailed in these SOPS, a separate ethics application detailing the procedures to be used must be submitted for MV AEC consideration.
Any queries regarding the MV AEC or the SOPs may be directed to Mr Tim Stranks, Executive Officer MV AEC on (03) 8341 7327.