The NHMRC develops policy and guidelines to ensure that the highest ethical standards apply to NHMRC funded research involving the use of animals. The Animal Welfare Committee plays an important role in ensuring that the NHMRC addresses relevant animal welfare issues as they evolve or emerge.
NHMRC processes ensure that research involving animals that receives NHMRC funding is scientifically valid, has been subject to ethical review and is conducted in accordance with the Australian code of practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes. Further details are available on our Research involving animals page.
Australian code of practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes 7th Edition, 2004 (Under review)
The Code encompasses all aspects of the care and use of, or interaction with, animals for scientific purposes in medicine, biology, agriculture, veterinary and other animal sciences, industry and teaching. It includes their use in research, teaching, field trials, product testing, diagnosis, the production of biological products and environmental studies.
The Code provides general principles for the care and use of animals, specifies the responsibilities of investigators and institutions, and details the terms of reference, membership and operation of AECs. It also provides guidelines for the humane conduct of scientific and teaching activities, and for the acquisition of animals and their care, including their environmental needs.
The Code covers all live non-human vertebrates and higher order invertebrates. Investigators and teachers should take into account emerging knowledge and ethical values when proposing to use other animal species not covered by the Code. Animals in early stages of their development, that is in their embryonic, fetal and larval forms, can experience pain and distress but this occurs at different stages of development in different species and thus decisions as to their welfare should, where possible, be based on evidence of their neurobiological development.
The Code is currently under review.
Further information and details regarding the review is available at:
View the current Code of Practice at:
- Australian code of practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes 7th Edition, 2004
This document has been developed by the NHMRC on advice from its Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) to ensure the ethical care of cats in scientific research and teaching institutions.
NHMRC Guidelines on the Care of Dogs Used for Scientific Purposes (2009)
This document has been released by the NHMRC on advice from its Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) to replace the NHMRC Policy on the care of dogs used for scientific purposes (2003).
Guidelines on the use of animals for training interventional medical practitioners and demonstrating new medical equipment and techniques (2009)
This document was revised by the NHMRC on advice from its Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) and provides Animal Ethics Committees (AECs) with guidance when they are considering applications for the use of animals to train medical practitioners in new medical techniques, equipment and how to use new technology. These guidelines replace the NHMRC Guidelines on the use of animals for training surgeons and demonstrating new surgical equipment and techniques (1997).
- NHMRC Guidelines on the use of animals for training interventional medical practitioners and demonstrating new medical equipment and techniques (2009)
Guidelines to promote the wellbeing of animals used for scientific purposes: The assessment and alleviation of pain and distress in research animals
The guidelines were developed to promote the wellbeing of animals used for scientific purposes and aim to minimise their experience of pain and distress. They advocate the consideration of an animal's "whole of life" experiences, argue the potential risk to the reliability/validity of research data from unintended pain or distress, and promote the 3R's (replacement of animal research with other types of research when possible, reduction of the number of animals used in research and refinement of research techniques to minimise pain and distress). They include strategies to identify, minimise and manage pain and distress and a series of fact sheets to provide guidance for researchers.
The guidelines were developed, after extensive public consultation, by a working group consisting of Animal Welfare Committee Members, researchers and experts from institutions on animal care authorities.
The guidelines should be read in conjunction with the 2004 NHMRC Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes.
The guidelines have been produced in an A4 loose leaf folder and will be updated as required. Changes will be publicised on the NHMRC website.
Table H1 Methods of humane killing and euthanasia in rats and mice, page H4 has been updated as of 20 August 2008. All copies of the guidelines downloaded prior to this date can be updated by downloading the replacement page.
- Update Revision of page fact sheet (PDF, 47KB)
- Guidelines to promote the wellbeing of animals used for scientific purposes: The assessment and alleviation of pain and distress in research animals
Guidelines for the generation, breeding, care and use of genetically modified and cloned animals for scientific purposes
The guidelines have been produced by the National Health and Medical Research Council's (NHMRC's) Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) as introductory material to assist investigators, Animal Ethics Committees (AECs), animal technicians and the broader community when they consider research projects involving the generation and use of genetically modified and cloned animals of all species.
These include laboratory, agricultural, companion animals and wildlife developed and used in research. They should be read in conjunction with the Australian code of practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes (the Code) and the National Framework for the Development of Ethical Principles in Gene Technology.
- Guidelines for the generation, breeding, care and use of genetically modified and cloned animals for scientific purposes (2007)
Policy on the Care and Use of Non-Human Primates for Scientific Purposes (Under review)
Background notes for investigators, animal ethics committees and animal care staff on the care and use of non-human primates for scientific purposes.
This policy is currently under review by an expert working committee. The full public consultation process will commence once the outcome of this review is complete and the draft revised policy is prepared. At such a time, a call for comments from the public will be advertised in the national press and on this website. All interested persons are encouraged to participate in the public consultation process.
If you wish NHMRC to notify you of this public consultation, we suggest that you subscribe to our fortnightly email “NHMRC Tracker”.
Guidelines for monoclonal antibody production, 2008
The production of monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) using animals involves procedures which have the potential to produce significant pain and distress. The guidelines issued by the NHMRC in 2001, were put under review in February 2008. This involved a period of public consultation between February and March 2008. Comments received as part of the public consultation process were considered in developing the final document, which was issued by the NHMRC on 7 December 2008.
The use of the ascites method for Mab production has the potential to cause significant pain and distress to animals and in nearly all cases the in vitro method is an equally viable method. For the ascites method to be approved, the 2008 Guidelines require that in vitro methods have been shown to be unsuitable for the specific Mab which is the subject of the application, and that this has been verified by an independent institution with expertise in the in vitro production of Mabs.
Statement of compliance with the Australian code of practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes
A statement of compliance to be completed by the head/delegate of the institution responsible for compliance with the Code. The institution accepts responsibility for the care of all animals used for scientific purposes by the institution (upon signing Statement of Compliance)
Contact for more information
Director, Health and Research Ethics
(02) 6217 9070