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About Animal Research Ethics

About the Animal Ethics Committee (AEC)

Macquarie University's Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) is a Committee advisory to the Vice-Chancellor, to whom it reports through the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research). It has been constituted in accord with the terms of reference and membership laid down in the Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes, 8th edition, 2013 (NHMRC) ("The Code").

The Code emphasises the responsibilities of all those involved in the care and use of animals. Encapsulated in the Code is the need in scientific and teaching activities to consider:

  • Replacement of animals with other methods
  • Reduction in the number of animals used
  • Refinement of techniques used to reduce the impacts on animals

It is the responsibility of the Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) to ensure, on behalf of the University, that all care and use of animals is conducted in compliance with The Code. The role of the AEC is to ensure that the use of animals is justified, provides for the welfare of the animals and incorporates the principles of replacement, reduction and refinement (also known as 'the three R's').

The AEC is comprised of four categories of membership:

  • Category A - persons with qualifications and experience in veterinary science
  • Category B - persons with substantial experience in the use of animals in scientific or teaching activities
  • Category C - persons external to the University with a demonstrable commitment to and experience in furthering the welfare of animals
  • Category D - persons external to the University who have never been involved in the use of animals in scientific or teaching activities and who represent the views of the wider community

Click to download the AEC's Terms of Reference

All staff and students who will be conducting research or demonstration teaching projects that involve the use of live vertebrate animals must apply to Macquarie University's Animal Ethics Committee for ethics approval. This includes the use of animals in research, teaching, field trials, product testing, diagnosis, the production of biological products and environmental studies. Observational studies of wildlife also require AEC approval.

Projects involving animals may only commence with approval in writing from the Committee and once an Animal Research Authority has been issued for the project. Approval may also be required from other relevant authorities outside of the University. All persons involved in the procedures of an approved project must also be approved by the AEC.

Education and training

The Code also requires that students are given an opportunity to discuss the ethical, social and scientific issues involved in the use of animals for research or teaching. Macquarie University hosts a workshop at the beginning of each semester for all students who will be working with research animals.


The Code defines Animal as
"any live non-human vertebrate( that is, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals encompassing domestic animals, purpose-bred animals, livestock, wildlife) and cephalopods."

The Code defines Wildlife as
"free-living animals of native or introduced species, including those that are captive bred and those captured from free-living populations."