Department of Education

Animal Ethics

Animal Ethics

Animal Ethics ‹ Animal Use Decisions

Animal Use Decisions

Overview of the steps and requirements for using animals


  • the educational outcomes you want your students to achieve;
  • the appropriateness of the activity to achieve the outcomes;
  • the principles of 3 Rs: Replacement, Reduction and Refinement; and
  • the sources, care, monitoring and fate of your animals; and record keeping and reporting requirements.

If, after considering these issues, teachers and lecturers believe the stated educational outcomes can only be achieved by the use of animals, they should use the following steps.

Step One - Determine whether your activity requires an application to be approved by the Schools Animal Ethics Committee (SAEC).  Any teaching activity, under the science curriculum, that causes some disruption to the animal's normal state or environment (Category 3) requires prior approval.  

Approval is required for these common activities:

  • Chicken egg hatching;
  • Breeding small mammals (e.g. mice, guinea pigs and rabbits);
  • Experiments using fish (e.g. changing water temperature, salinity);
  • Fish breeding (e.g. silver perch) when the intention is to harvest; and
  • Any other activities under Category 3, 4 or 5 see: Categories of animal use (above).

Prior Approval is NOT required for:

  • Any animals not used in teaching science e.g. goldfish tank in the office.
  • Laying hens housed in a coop.
  • Class pets e.g. goldfish, budgie, guinea pig.
  • Invertebrates e.g. insects, spiders, worms, snails, crustaceans.
  • Observation of tadpoles transforming into frogs as long as they are returned to their original environment.
  • Animals used for dissections when they are obtained pre-euthanized from a licensed supplier (e.g. ARC).
  • Animals in farm schools and agricultural programs subject to normal animal husbandry activities

Step Two - If prior approval is not required then go ahead with the activity ensuring the appropriate level of care for the animals and supervision of students. Go to Step Four.

Step Three - If approval is required then submit an application via the online Animal Ethics system.  Proceed with the activity only after receiving notification of approval.

Step Four - Maintain animal care records. 

Step Five - Submit reports as required. 

Reports required include:

  • Activity Completion Report - required within 14 days of the end of an approved activity. Submit online.
  • Annual Report - required for any schools using animals in teaching activities with a science component, whether the activity required prior approval or not.  For example, sustainability programs that use laying hens do not require prior approval but those hens should be included on an Annual Report. Submit online.
  • Annual Report - NIL Return - required when a school has an approved activity but did not use the animals (e.g. SAEC granted a three year approval but the teacher did not undertake the activity in the second year).

Reports are not required when:

  • A school has no animals and does not have a current approval from the Schools Animal Ethics Committee (SAEC). NIL returns are no longer required from all schools.




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Animal Use Decisions

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