Animal ethics

The Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (Qld) requires that any person using animals for scientific purposes for research or teaching must: 

Commencing a project without prior written approval from an Animal Ethics Committee may be subject to criminal prosecution under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (Qld).

For the purposes of the Act, an animal is defined as:

  • any live vertebrate including amphibians, birds, fish, mammals and reptiles 
  • cephalopod invertebrates (octopus, squid, cuttlefish and nautilus) 
  • live pre-natal or pre-hatched animals in the last half of gestation, for example, mammalian or reptilian foetuses, pre-hatched avian, mammalian or reptilian young and live marsupial young

The Act does not consider a human being or human foetus to be an animal, nor are the eggs, spat or spawn of fish.

USQ commitment

USQ is committed to promoting and ensuring the ethical conduct of scientific work involving animals and requires all staff and students to ensure that:

  • no scientific work involving animals commences without written approval from the USQ Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) 
  • the principles of the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement) of animal use are considered before submitting a proposal to the USQ AEC
    • replacement of animals with alternatives where possible 
    • reduction in the number of animals used 
    • refinement of techniques to reduce the impact on the animals 
  • all procedures are conducted ethically and in strict accordance with USQ AEC approvals by trained individuals and supervised appropriately 
  • the welfare of the animals is protected at all times

The University is registered with Biosecurity Queensland – Animal Welfare and Ethics and is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Scientific Use Code and all legislation governing the scientific use of animals.

Applications and amendments for animal ethics approval are processed through the Office of Research.

USQ Animal Ethics Committee

The terms of reference for the operation and membership of the USQ AEC are outlined in the Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes, 8th Edition, 2013 (the Scientific Use Code). The Scientific Use Code is also the principle point of reference for the Animal Ethics Committee when considering applications to undertake scientific research or teaching activities involving animals, in particular clauses 1.5 and 1.6 (see below):

Clause 1.5 Evidence to support a case to use animals must demonstrate that: 

  1. the project has scientific or educational merit, and has potential benefit for humans, animals or the environment 
  2. the use of animals is essential to achieve the stated aims, and suitable alternatives to replace the use of animals to achieve the stated aims are not available 
  3. the project involves the minimum number of animals required to obtain valid data 
  4. the project involves the minimum adverse impact on the wellbeing of the animals involved.

Clause 1.6 Projects must only be undertaken: 

  1. to obtain and establish significant information relevant to the understanding of humans and/or animals, or
  2. to maintain and improve human and/or animal health and welfare, or 
  3. to improve animal management or production, or 
  4. to obtain and establish significant information relevant to the understanding, maintenance or improvement of the natural environment, or 
  5. to achieve educational outcomes in science, as specified in the relevant curriculum or competency requirements.

The Committee is responsible for reviewing, providing advice and approving or not approving applications and standard work procedures that involve the scientific use of animals. The committee is also responsible for ensuring animal welfare by monitoring compliance with AEC approvals including conducting animal house and laboratory site visits. Members of the committee must ensure confidentiality of AEC proceedings at all times .

Training sessions

Training on animal ethics regulations and an animal handling workshop is held each semester. Further details on these workshops can be obtained from the Ethics Committee Support Officer by emailing

Further information

For further information about animal ethics, the process, clearance and Animal Ethics Committee, please email or telephone +61 7 4631 2690.