Animal Research Ethics

Animal Research Ethics

Animal ethics refers to the moral principles and considerations that guide how we treat and interact with animals.

It involves evaluating the rights, well-being, and interests of animals, and making ethical decisions about how we use and interact with them in various contexts, including research and teaching-based activities.

SAHMRI prides itself on promoting best practices for animal welfare by following the governing principles of the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes (8th Ed. 2013). The SAHMRI Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) adheres to the South Australian Animal Welfare Act 1985. The Act sets the legal requirements for the use of animals in research and teaching and regulates the institution’s Animal Ethics Committee function and reporting of animal-related activities.

SAHMRI’s AEC Operating Guidelines outline the institutional policies and procedures for the use of animals for teaching and research purposes. These guidelines extend to any personnel who utilise the SAHMRI AEC for the purpose of animal research or teaching.

All SAHMRI and partner researchers who wish to use animals for teaching, research, or experimentation within the SAHMRI Bioresources or PIRL facilities must obtain approval from the SAHMRI Animal Ethics Committee (AEC).

AEC approval must be obtained prior to the commencement of any project. In addition, any changes to an approved project are also subject to ethical review and must be approved prior to including them within the project.

For any general inquiries regarding the Animal Ethics Committee, please contact

Approval is obtained through a detailed written submission to the SAHMRI AEC outlining the project activities, justifying the use of animals requested, discussing the principle of the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement), and recognising and accepting responsibility for the care and use of animals.

all animal ethics applications and amendments are required to be submitted via SAHMRI’s online database Tick@lab.

For guidelines on how to submit a new application or amendment within this database, please read the guide to applications and amendments for researchers.

Please allow ample time for submitting changes and requests to prevent potential delays. Ethical review is necessary for applications and modifications, and initial approval is not always guaranteed. The AEC may provide suggestions before granting final approval. To prevent any inconvenience, kindly submit applications and amendments well before the project's expected start date.

Additionally, all new applications must be submitted for pre-screening, and late submissions will NOT be accepted.

2023 Deadlines and Scheduled Meetings

If you have any difficulties with the database, please contact

AEC Applications Checklist

Animal Ethics Committee terms of reference

Researchers working with animals at SAHMRI are not permitted to begin any animal work until they have completed Animal Ethics Training and must repeat a training course every three years (or when the training has expired). People excluded from this requirement are those who have provided intellectual input to a project but who are not involved in the project and statisticians who will complete the post-processing of data. SAHMRI uses the ANZCCART ComPass Core (Phase 1) Online Animal Ethics Training Course.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Animal Ethics Officer (AEO) or the Animal Welfare Officer (AWO).

An Unexpected Adverse Event (UAE) is an unanticipated and undesirable incident or outcome that occurs while conducting a study or experiment involving animals. This event is not part of the expected or predicted results and may potentially harm the animal's health, welfare, or overall condition. These events could include unexpected health issues, reactions to treatments or procedures, injuries, or any other negative occurrences that were not foreseen. Proper documentation, analysis, and reporting of such events are essential to ensure animal welfare, ethical considerations, and the validity of the research findings.

  1. Act:
    Immediately ensure the adverse impacts on the well-being of the animal are addressed. Alleviate any pain or undue distress to the animal by emergency treatment or humane killing.

  2. Notify:
    1. The AWO Within the first 24 hours of the incident via phone or email
    2. The Manager of the facility in which the event occurred (Bioresources or PIRL)
    3. The Primary Investigator names on the application

  3. Report:
    Please submit a formal report within 72 hours of the UAE to the AWO via Tick@lab and notify the AWO when this has been done.

The report must include the following information:
- Ethics Number
- Animal ID, Strain, Age and Gender
- Location of event: Bioresources or PIRL
- Summary of events leading up to UAE
- Actions taken to alleviate pain or distress
- Attach Clinical Records Sheets, or other monitoring sheets.
- If applicable, post-mortem examination results
- Considerations for the prevention of future UAE and
interventions/corrective actions that may be taken.

When an animal dies unexpectedly, or is humanely killed due to unforeseen complications, a post-mortem should be performed by the AWO, Facility Veterinarian, or a person with appropriate experience or qualifications. Please place the body in the fridge to maintain anatomical structures if the post-mortem cannot be done immediately.

The AWO will investigate and advise of any interim arrangements required. This may involve modifications to procedures, urgent medical treatment, husbandry intervention, or, in exceptional cases, suspension of the project.

Annual Progress Reports are required to be submitted to the AEC and are due on the date of approval of the project each year the project is active.

Final Reports are required to be submitted soon after project completion. Once the AEC has reviewed the Final Report, the application will be closed on the researcher’s behalf.

These forms will be available in your application on Tick@lab under Annual Review. The continuation of a project is subject to the fulfilment of annual progress reporting requirements for ongoing projects. Please refer to the application guide.

Alternatively, Annual Progress and Final Reports can be requested and submitted via email to the Animal Ethics Officer.