NHMRC has released two Statements to support the conduct of ethical, humane, responsible and high-quality research involving animals:  

The Statements support the implementation of the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes (the Code), which is adopted into legislation in all states and territories. 

The Statements highlight the significant scientific, welfare and ethical concerns associated with the forced swim test and smoke inhalation procedures in rodent models. They provide guidance on when the use of these procedures cannot be justified in accordance with the Code. They also outline actions that must be taken for a current NHMRC-funded project that involves the use of the forced swim test or smoke inhalation procedures in a rodent model. 

The development of the Statements was overseen by NHMRC’s Animal Welfare Committee.  

NHMRC requires any research that it funds that involves the use of animals to comply with relevant legislation, the Code and these Statements. 

Those involved with NHMRC-funded research must implement the recommendations in the Statements from the date of their publication.

For the purposes of each Statement, the following definitions apply:

  • ‘New project’ means any application submitted under NHMRC Grant Opportunity Guidelines issued on or after 1 January 2024.
    An application submitted under NHMRC Grant Opportunity Guidelines issued prior to 1 January 2024 will not be regarded as a ‘new project’. However, if such an application is successful, NHMRC will regard the project as a ‘current project’ for the purposes of the Statement.

  • ‘Current project’ means any NHMRC-funded project that is active after the date of publication of the Statement and was submitted under NHMRC Grant Opportunity Guidelines issued prior to 1 January 2024.

Note these definitions apply to NHMRC research grants and are independent of when applications are submitted to, or approved by, an Animal Ethics Committee.

Date published: 13 December 2023 (updated 24 January 2024 to include definitions)