New edition of the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes

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Summary media release information

23 July 2013
Media Release
Contact for further information: 
NHMRC Media Team: 0422 008 512

All researchers and teachers in Australia considering the use of animals for scientific purposes are required to adhere to the new 8th edition of the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes. If animals need to be used, the new edition outlines how they must be cared for and treated.

The new edition of the Code provides clearer, stronger and up-to-date information on the ethical, humane and responsible care and use of animals for scientific purposes. It outlines the governing principles and ethical framework to guide the decisions and actions of all those involved and in all situations where animals are used.

“Australia has a strong ethical framework to protect animals that may be used for scientific purposes. The National Health and Medical Research Council has been leading the development and revision of guidelines for the welfare of animals in research for over 40 years,” NHMRC CEO Professor Anderson said.

“Through regular reviews using a strong collaborative approach, NHMRC has ensured that these guidelines continue to be relevant for all circumstances, accurate, based on contemporary scientific knowledge, and reflecting international best practice.

“An obligation to respect animals underpins the Code. Any use of animals must be justified, must have scientific or educational merit, must be beneficial to humans, animals or the environment and must be conducted with integrity.”

The Code continues to require researchers and ethics committees to ensure that the 3 Rs are considered and applied:

  • Replacement, where animals may be used only if there is no valid alternative;
  • Reduction where, if the use of animals is needed, the minimal number must be used; and
  • Refinement where, if the use of animals is needed, the techniques must be refined to reduce the adverse impact on animals.

The new edition of the Code is endorsed by the Australian Research Council (ARC), Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Universities Australia.

ARC CEO Professor Byrne said that the Code is well aligned with international research laboratory practices and is welcomed by the sector. CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Clark highlights that the Code will provide leadership and guidance to Australian scientists over the coming years, and demonstrates Australia’s commitment to ethical research.

In developing the new edition of the Code, the strong consultative process used by NHMRC has ensured input from the community as well as key stakeholders including animal welfare organisations (RSPCA and Animals Australia), researchers and teachers, institutions, members of animal ethics committees, state and territory governments, relevant commonwealth government departments, ARC, CSIRO and Universities Australia.

The Code is incorporated under animal welfare or animal research laws in all states and territories.

Further information

Media contacts:

NHMRC Media Team: 0422 008 512
ARC Media Team: 0412 623 056
CSIRO Media Team 0417 834 547
Universities Australia 02 6285 8133