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Care and Use of Animals in Act Schools Policy

  1. What is this policy about?
    1. This policy and associated Care and Use of Animals in ACT Public Schools Procedures (the Procedures) establish the responsibilities and requirements of ACT public schools in care and use of animals for educational purposes.
    2. The policy is to be read in conjunction with the Care and use of animals for scientific purposes Implementation Guidelines 2018 (the Guidelines) to ensure compliance with legislative requirements.
  2. Policy Statement
    1. Where practical, teaching activities will not involve animals unless there are no suitable alternatives to achieve the educational objectives.
    2. In making a decision to use animals, schools must consider:
      • the principles of three Rs contained in the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes 8th Edition 2013 (the Code):
        • Replacement; methods that permit a given purpose or activity to be achieved without the use of animals.
        • Reduction; methods for obtaining comparable levels of information from the use of fewer animals in scientific procedures or for obtaining more information from the same number of animals.
        • Refinement; methods that alleviate or minimise potential pain and distress, and enhance animal wellbeing.
      • educational outcomes expected to be achieved
      • the care, monitoring and disposal of the animals
      • record keeping and reporting requirements.
    3. Schools keeping animals for any purpose must comply with the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 1992 and the Animal Welfare Regulation (2001). Schools keeping animals for education purposes must also comply with the Code. Compliance is especially important in relation to provision of appropriate quality and levels of:
      • food and water
      • accommodation
      • capacity for the animal to display normal patterns of behaviour
      • treatment for illness, disease or injury.
    4. Schools must apply to the ACT Schools Animal Ethics Committee (SAEC) to care for and use animals for any purpose before the animals are placed in schools. The ACT SAEC will decide on applications for vertebrates where they are to be used for educational purposes and will refer to the Animal Welfare Authority (AWA) in Transport Canberra and City Services (TCCS) for decisions on invertebrates, “assistance animals” or those to be kept for any non-educational purpose.
    5. Schools must give consideration to the location of public thoroughfares and ensure that the perimeters of animal enclosures are not directly accessible to the public.
    6. School emergency response plans must include management of risks to animal safety and wellbeing.
    7. Schools will assist students to develop a respect for animals and to understand the ethical, social and scientific issues involved in the use of animals.
    8. Where an “assistance animal” is present in a school the Principal must ensure that the animal meets the standards for training, hygiene and behaviour as described under the Disability Discrimination Act 1991, the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs (2010) or other relevant species specific legislation or Codes of Practice.
    9. The Principal is responsible for ensuring that an appropriate plan is in place to manage the welfare of an assistance animal and its interaction with the school environment.
    10. Under the Domestic Animals Act 2000, domestic animals may not be taken on to school grounds, (or fields or playing areas where training or sport is being conducted), without permission of the principal.
  3. Who does this policy apply to?
    1. This policy applies to all ACT public schools.
  4. Context
    1. The use of animals for scientific and educational purposes in ACT schools is governed by the ACT Animal Welfare Act (1992), the Animal Welfare Regulation (2001) and the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes, 8th edition 2013.
    2. This legislation protects the welfare of vertebrate animals used in teaching by ensuring their use is justified, humane and considerate of the animal’s needs.
  5. Responsibilities
    1. The Principal: is responsible for implementation of this policy and in particular:
      • ensuring the use of animals is essential to the educational outcomes
      • ensuring all animals at the school are cared for in accordance with the legislation
      • obtaining authorisation through the ACT Schools Animal Ethics Committee before allowing animals to be housed, cared for and used at the school.
      • submitting an annual report of all animal holdings at the school to the ACT SAEC.
    2. The ACT Education Directorate determines that the Director, Learning and Teaching is the licence holder under the Animal Welfare Act 1992 and is responsible for:
      • establishing and maintaining an Animal Ethics Committee
      • complying with any direction of the Animal Ethics Committee issued under regulation
      • seeking and gaining approval from the ACT Animal Ethics Committee prior to commencing any activity under the provisions of this licence.
    3. Policy Owner: The Director, Learning and Teaching is responsible for this policy.
  6. Monitoring and Review
    1. The Policy Owner monitors the policy. This includes an annual scan of operation and review. A full review of the policy will be conducted within a three year period. A comprehensive external review of the operations of the ACT SAEC is required forth yearly.
  7. Contact
    1. For support contact Learning and Teaching Branch on (02) 6205 9205 or via email at
  8. Complaints
    1. Any concerns about the application of this policy or the policy itself should be raised with:
  9. References
    1. Definitions
      ACT Animal Welfare Authority (located at TCCS)
      The Authority responsible for the licensing of scientific institutions and schools for the use of animals for research and teaching purposes. The school systems are accountable to the Authority.
      Procedures which can completely replace the need to use animals, reduce the number of animals required, or diminish the amount of pain or distress suffered by animals.
      Any live non-human vertebrate, that is fish, amphibian, reptile, bird and mammal, and encompassing domestic animals, livestock and wildlife. The term includes feral and pest species as well as pets and livestock.
      Animal Welfare Liaison Officer (AWLO)
      School Principals are responsible for the care and use of animals for educational purposes in the school. The school Principal or a delegated, qualified teacher may act as Animal Welfare Liaison Officer (AWLO) within the school to monitor the school’s compliance with the requirements of animal research legislation. The duties of the AWLO are described in the Code 4.5 – 4.17.
      Assistance Animal
      The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (DDA) in Section 9, sets out the legal definition of an assistance animal as a dog or other animal that:
      (a) is accredited under a State or Territory law to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effects of disability; or
      (b) is accredited by an animal training organisation prescribed in the regulations; or
      (c) is trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability and meets standards of hygiene and behaviour that are appropriate for an animal in a public place.
      Schools Animal Ethics Committee (SAEC)
      A committee constituted in accordance with the terms of reference and membership contained in the Australian Code of Practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes 8th Edition (2013).
      Scientific purposes
      All those activities performed to acquire, develop or demonstrate knowledge or techniques in any scientific discipline, including activities for the purposes of teaching, field trials, environmental studies, research, diagnosis, product testing, and the production of biological products.
      Service animal
      An animal used as a companion to compensate for a physical impairment in such areas as sight, hearing or mobility.
    2. Legislation
      • Animal Welfare Act 1992: The Act provides for a system of accreditation, licensing and authorisation for organisations and individuals wishing to use animals for scientific purposes, which includes teaching.
      • Animal Welfare Regulation 2001: Schedule 2 lists the animals that may be used for scientific or teaching purposes in preschools and schools without a licence or authorisation from TCCS. Approval is required from the ACT SAEC.
      • Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes 8th Edition 2013.
      • ACT Disability Discrimination Act 1991: This Act covers the rights of people accompanied by a guide-dog, hearing-dog or other assistance animal.
      • The Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs (2010): This code provides the minimum standard of care to be provided to a dog, including training and hygiene. This Code applies to all domesticated dogs including those used as assistance animals.
      • Domestic Animals Act 2000: This Act provides standards for domestic animals including such information as access to public areas, registration and regulation of dangerous and attacking dogs.
    3. Implementation Documents
      This policy is supported by the Care and Use of Animals in ACT Public Schools Procedures and the Care and Use of Animals in ACT Schools Implementation Guidelines 2018

Care and Use of Animals in Act Schools Policy: 2019/002 is the unique identifier of this document. It is the responsibility of the user to verify that this is the current and complete version of the document, available on the Directorate’s website at