The Animal Research Act 1985 (NSW) requires that the use of animals in teaching or research is supervised by an animal ethics committee. The Schools Animal Care and Ethics Committee (SACEC) was specifically set up to supervise the use of animals in government and non-government schools. Its role is to:
- interpret the Animal Research Act 1985 (NSW)
- prepare and publish a list of approved activities involving the use of animals
- consider applications for category 4 and 5 activities and those activities which are not listed in the guidelines
- monitor the use of animals in schools to ensure that it complies with the relevant legislation
- liaise with teachers and system representatives about matters covered in the terms of reference
- investigate complaints involving animals
- report to the appropriate school sector authorities
- perform other functions as described in its terms of reference.
Who are the members of the SACEC?
The Australian code of practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes determines the membership of animal ethics committees.
SACEC is comprised of a minimum of the following:
- A nominee from a senior position within each of the three school sectors, one of whom is to be the Chair of the committee.
- Two persons with recognised qualifications in Veterinary Science with experience involving animals commonly found in schools. These people should be nominated by an approved professional association of veterinarians or ‘like body’ (Category A).
- Two persons actively involved in animal use for teaching. These people should be nominated by an approved professional association of teachers or ‘like body’ (Category B).
- At least two people with demonstrable commitment to, and established experience in, furthering the welfare of animals, who are not employed by or otherwise associated with the institution, and who are not involved in the care and use of animals for scientific purposes. These people should where possible be selected on the basis of membership of, and nomination by, an animal welfare organisation or ‘like body’ (Category C).
- Two independent members who do not currently and have not previously conducted scientific or teaching activities using animals, and who are not an employees of the institution, except under defined circumstances (Category D).
- A nominee from the Office of the Board of Studies.
The SACEC may co-opt any other person, as required, to complete the work of the committee.
What is the process that enables the SACEC to supervise NSW schools?
All schools in NSW must be accredited by the Department of Primary Industries as an animal research establishment if they wish to use animals for educational purposes. The NSW Department of Education and Communities, NSW Catholic Education Commission and the Association of Independent Schools of NSW seek accreditation on behalf of their schools. Schools in each of these sectors receive an annual Animal Research Authority at the beginning of term two each year. This Animal Research Authority authorises those staff who sign it, to use animals for the purposes of teaching and research, provided that the activities are in accordance with the provisions described in this Animals in schools website and are carried out in accordance with the advice provided within this website.
Accountability for SACEC
The school sectors are accountable to the Animal Research Review Panel (ARRP) for operation of the SACEC.
ARRP inspects the SACEC to determine whether they are complying with the legislation by evaluating applications for approval and meeting procedures and through site inspections. This inspection process is carried out every three years.
The SACEC meets six times per year. Discussions at these meetings include matters such as:
- applications from teachers seeking approval to allow students to carry out category 4 activities
- applications from teachers seeking approval to demonstrate category 5 activities
- applications from teachers seeking approval to carry out activities that are not listed in the guidelines
- applications from teachers seeking SACEC approval for a scientific licence
- school visits
- complaints and incidents
- curriculum issues involving the use of animals
- resources available for use by teachers.
One of the roles of the SACEC is to monitor the use of animals in schools to ensure compliance with the relevant legislation. The SACEC does this by routine visits to schools. Approximately 16 schools throughout NSW are visited each year. Generally three SACEC members are involved in each visit. For more information visit the school visits page.
SACEC Annual Report
The Australian code of practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes requires every animal ethics to committee to prepare an annual report for the governing body of the institution(s) for which it acts. The SACEC reports to the NSW Department of Education and Communities, the Catholic Education Commission and the Association of Independent Schools of NSW each year.