Animal Ethics Committee

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Animal Ethics Committee

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Terms of Reference

Definitions

The Act means the Queensland Government Animal Care and Protection Act (2001).

The Code means the National Health and Medical Research Council Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes (2013).

Scientific purposes: all activities conducted with the aim of acquiring, developing or demonstrating knowledge or techniques in all areas of science, including teaching, field trials, environmental studies, research (including the creation and breeding of a new animal line where the impact on animal wellbeing is unknown or uncertain), diagnosis, product testing and the production of biological products.

Purpose

The University is a registered user of animals for scientific purposes. It is therefore obliged to comply with the requirements of the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (Qld) (the “Act”) and the Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes, 8th Edition, 2013 (the “Code”).

In accordance with the requirements of the Act and the Code, the University has established the University of the Sunshine Coast Animal Ethics Committee (USC AEC), which is tasked with ensuring, that all activities relating to the care and use of animals are conducted in compliance with the Code.

Accountability

The USC AEC is responsible to the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research), who chairs the USC Research Committee that reports to the Academic Board. The Chairperson of the USC AEC and the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) meet on an annual basis to discuss the annual report from the USC AEC and any other issues which may impact on compliance with the Code.

Reporting

The AEC will provide minutes of meetings to the Academic Board via the Research Committee. An annual report will be submitted to the Academic Board via the Research Committee.

The annual report will contain the information described in the Code and address the numbers and types of activities considered for approval and the outcomes, risk management, the physical facilities available for activities involving animals, any administrative or other difficulties being experienced, and any requirements for training staff.

The AEC will report to external regulatory bodies as required.

Responsibilities
Animal Ethics Committee

The primary responsibility of the USC AEC is to ensure, on behalf of the institution, that all activities relating to the care and use of animals are conducted in compliance with the Code.

The USC AEC in accordance with the Code, must:

  1. review applications for projects and approve only those projects that are ethically acceptable and conform to the requirements of the Code;
  2. 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;
  3. conduct follow-up review of approved projects and activities (see Clause 2.2.32 [ii]), and allow the continuation of approval for only those projects and activities that are ethically acceptable and conform to the requirements of the Code;
  4. monitor the care and use of animals, including housing conditions, practices and procedures involved in the care of animals in facilities;
  5. take appropriate actions regarding unexpected adverse events;
  6. take appropriate actions regarding non-compliance;
  7. approve guidelines for the care and use of animals on behalf of the institution;
  8. provide advice and recommendations to the institution;
  9. report on its operations to the institution.
Chairperson

The Chairperson is responsible for:

  1. impartially guiding the operation of the AEC
  2. resolving conflicts of interest related to the business of the AEC
  3. representing the AEC in any negotiations with the institution’s management
  4. advising the institution’s management regarding the level of resourcing required by the Committee
All members

Each member:

  1. is responsible for deciding whether, in their own judgement, an application or other matter under consideration by the AEC is ethically acceptable and meets the requirements of the Code.
  2. should be familiar with the Code and other policies and guidelines relevant to the business of the AEC and provide opinions on the ethical acceptability of applications and other matters under consideration by the AEC.
  3. during their appointment to the AEC, and before any deliberations of the AEC, members must declare any interest that could influence the objectivity of their decision making.
  4. must maintain confidentiality regarding the content of applications and the deliberations of the AEC, in accordance with institutional requirements.
  5. Institution

The Institution must provide the AEC with the resources required to carry out its responsibilities and to maintain the AEC. Resources should include:

  1. staffing and administrative assistance, and financial resources
  2. orientation and education of AEC members
  3. where appropriate, the reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses and/or payment of an allowance to AEC members.
Composition of the Animal Ethics Committee
Chairperson

The Institution must appoint a Chairperson of the AEC. The Institution should consider appointing a Chairperson who holds a senior position in the institution. If the Chairperson is an external appointee, the institution must provide the Chairperson with the necessary support and authority to carry out the role. The Chairperson may be appointed in addition to Category A to D members (see below).

The institution may appoint a Deputy Chairperson of the AEC. The Deputy Chairperson may act as the Chairperson as required.

Members

In accordance with the membership provisions of the Code, the USC AEC will comprise at least one person from each of the four membership categories listed below (A-D), and category C and D members must together represent at least one-third of the AEC membership.

Category A: a person with qualifications in veterinary science that are recognised for registration as a veterinary surgeon in Australia, and with experience relevant to the institution’s activities 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 the institution and the business of the AEC. This must include possession of a higher degree in research or equivalent experience. If the business of the AEC relates to the use of animals for teaching only, a teacher with substantial and recent experience may be appointed.

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 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: a person 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 AEC, and must not fit the requirements of any other category.

Additional members to assist the AEC to function effectively: where appropriate additional members may be appointed to assist the AEC. These may include: a person responsible for the routine care of animals within the institution; and, additional members with skills and background of value to the AEC.

Access to expertise: The AEC may also invite people with specific expertise to provide advice to the committee, as required.

Administrative support: The institution will provide administrative support to the AEC, including a suitably qualified person to act as the AEC Secretary.

Appointment, reappointment and retirement of members

The Chairperson will be appointed by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research).

All other members will be appointed, or re-appointed, by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) after the recommendation by the Chairperson of the Animal Ethics Committee.

Prospective new members must complete an AEC membership application form. They must accept the AEC Terms of Reference and indicate in writing on what basis they satisfy the relevant membership category criteria (as defined in section 2.2.4 of the Code). They must also declare any conflict of interest before appointment.

All members appointed or re-appointed to the AEC will be notified in writing (letter) by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research).

The Secretary of the AEC will obtain a signed confidentiality agreement from each prospective new member before producing letters of appointment for the signature of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research). These endorsed letters of appointment will then be provided to the new AEC members.

Members may choose to retire by writing (letter) to the Chairperson.

When it is judged necessary to terminate an individual’s membership, the member will be advised of this in writing (letter) from the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research).

Changes in the membership of the AEC will be noted at the next AEC meeting and recorded in the minutes.

Terms of Office

A member will initially be appointed for one year. After this probationary period, the appointment can be extended at the discretion of the Chairperson and the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research). The term of office of an appointed member will normally be three years, with the option of reappointment for subsequent terms.

Animal Ethics Committee Executive

The USC AEC has established an Animal Ethics Committee Executive.

In accordance with the membership provisions of the Code, the Animal Ethics Committee Executive will comprise the Chairperson and at least one member from Category C or D.

The AEC Executive may approve minor amendments to approved projects or activities, for ratification at the next AEC meeting.

The AEC Executive must not approve new applications, new procedures, or major amendments.

For details on operating procedures for the AEC Executive, see the AEC Operating Guidelines.

Quorum

At least one member from each of the membership categories A, B, C and D must be present throughout the meeting to establish a quorum for the conduct of a meeting.

Methods of decision making

Information about methods of decision making is contained in section 6 of the Animal Ethics Committee Operating Guidelines.

Frequency of meetings

The Committee should meet not less than quarterly.

Revisions
Approved: Council C00/61, 13 June 2000
Revised: Council C05/46, 7 June 2005
Revised:  Council C09/103, 8 December 2009
Revised:     Council C10/101, 7 December 2010
Revised: AE12/31, 14 November 2012
Last Revised:  Academic Board, 26 May 2015
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