Changes to the licensing and auditing of scientific procedures in Victoria
Amendments to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 and associated Regulations take effect in 2017. Agriculture Victoria is commencing the implementation of these changes and your participation is invited.
Recent amendments to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008 will affect holders of Victorian scientific procedures licences and specified animals breeding licences. The changes introduced by the amended Regulations are:
- revised fees for new licence applications and renewals, for each licence type; and
- new fees for compliance monitoring activities (audits).
Revised licence fees will apply from 1 July 2017.
On 28 June 2016, Agriculture Victoria announced revisions to the Departmental auditing program to accompany the new auditing fees. Piloting of the revised program will proceed during late 2016 – early 2017.
The new auditing fees will apply on completion of the development and rollout of Agriculture Victoria's revised auditing program.
The Primary Industries Legislation Amendments Act 2016 introduced a 4–year licence option to the existing options of 1, 2, or 3 year licences. The 4–year option becomes available from 1 July 2017.
Expiry of all licences on 30 June 2017
Transition arrangements for the new licence fees require the expiry of all licences on 30 June 2017. For a small number of licence holders, this will mean an earlier expiry than the date printed on their current licence (30 June 2018). These licence holders will automatically be issued a one-year licence from 1 July 2017. A refund of the final year's fee may be provided if Agriculture Victoria is advised by the licence holders that they prefer to permanently close their licence.
Audits and the Australian code
The Agriculture Victoria auditing program has been revised to ensure that the audits conducted by department officers can be used to fulfil the criteria for an independent external review as described in section 6 of the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes, 8th edition, 2013 (the Australian code).
Auditing frequency will be at least every four years, to meet the minimum standard outlined in the Australian code.
Licence holders should note that the Australian code became a mandatory condition of licence on 1 October 2014. To comply with the 4–year minimum frequency for an independent external review, all organisations must have undergone a review in the period 1 October 2014 – 30 September 2018.
Information for holders of multiple scientific procedures premises licences
Changes to the fee structure facilitate the consolidation of multiple scientific procedures licences held by a single licence holder. Licence holders may apply to Agriculture Victoria to merge their current licences into a single organisational licence.
When considering an application to consolidate licences, Agriculture Victoria will assess the licence holder's capacity to comply with licence conditions across their organisation, including their current ability to comply with the institutional responsibilities under the Australian code such as:
- ensuring an effective internal compliance monitoring program, including support and resources for Animal Ethics Committees (AECs) to perform or suitably delegate their monitoring obligations
- promoting and facilitating adoption of the governing principles of the Australian code in all aspects of animal care and use, including coordinating, planning and operations, and sharing resources and information, to facilitate the application of Replacement, Reduction and Refinement (the 3Rs)
- ensuring availability and access to veterinary advice for the management and oversight of a program of veterinary care, quality management and project design to safeguard animal wellbeing
- ensuring that investigators are well informed of their responsibilities under the Australian code and their legal responsibilities
- providing adequate resources for appropriate education, training, and assessment of competence of investigators, and certification of such competence to the satisfaction of the AEC.
Information for clients of Agriculture Victoria's Wildlife and Small Institutions Animal Ethics Committee
A draft 'Terms of service' document will be distributed in early 2017 to licence holders that access the Agriculture Victoria public-access 'Wildlife and Small Institutions AEC'.
The document will outline the rights and responsibilities of licence holders, and Agriculture Victoria, with respect to services and obligations under the legislation. It will include a description of the process for auditing the AEC and for equitably distributing the associated fee.
Feedback will be sought from clients and a final document will be distributed for agreement prior to 1 July 2017.
To ensure your participation:
- Check your licence expiry date. If the expiry date is 30 June 2018, and you wish to close your licence on that date, please contact Agriculture Victoria at email@example.com by 28 April 2017 to opt out of an automatic one-year licence reissue.
- Please register your interest in attending audit workshops from 16 to 28 February and /or participating in trailing the audit program.
- If you have a particular requirement for an independent external review, such as NHMRC funding commitments, please advise Agriculture Victoria at firstname.lastname@example.org so that your request can be considered in the audit scheduling.
- Licence holders intending to apply to merge multiple licences should contact Agriculture Victoria at email@example.com to arrange a time to discuss their application.
Workshops will be held early in 2017 to provide information about the revised audit system, and to seek feedback about program design and implementation.
Workshop topics will include:
- audit modules
- audit result ratings
- audit reports
- Audit Advisory Panel role and functions
- audit program trial