Activities Requiring a License
The Act requires that the use of animals for Scientific Procedures be authorised by a Scientific Procedures licence issued by the Head of the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR), and administered through the Licensing and Audit Branch as the licensing authority. Scientific Procedures include the use of animals for:
- acquiring, demonstrating or developing knowledge
- acquiring, demonstrating, developing or exercising techniques
- developing or testing the use, hazards, safety, or efficiency of vaccines, substances, drugs, materials or appliances intended for use in connection with human beings or animals.
Production of biological products must be licensed if those products are for use in research or teaching, or if the techniques used are considered to be sufficiently pioneering. In addition, the breeding of a new strain or hybrid of a genetically modified animal is considered to be a Scientific Procedure and must be authorised by a Scientific Procedures licence.
All fields of science are covered by the licensing requirements, including but not limited to medical, dental, veterinary, agricultural, behavioural, ecological, pest management and biological sciences. All sectors operating in Victoria must comply, including private company, government, university, hospital, research institute, TAFE, school, volunteer organisations, and independent individuals.
Use of the following animal types and development stages in Scientific Procedures must be licensed:
- all fish and amphibians
- mammals, birds and reptiles above the mid-point in gestation
- adult decapod crustaceans
- adult cephalopods.
Breeding for Scientific Procedures
The breeding of certain animals in Victoria for use in Scientific Procedures must also be licensed. These animals are termed Specified Animals and are guinea pigs; rats, mice, rabbits other than rats, mice and rabbits bred in their native habitat; and non-human primates. Breeding of these animals for supply to other institutions must be authorised by a Specified Animal Breeding Licence.
"Fieldwork" applies to Scientific Procedures conducted at premises not listed on a Scientific Procedures Premises Licence, and for all procedures under a Scientific Procedures Fieldwork Licence. If approval for a Fieldwork project has been given by an AEC, the licence holder must ensure that the AEC forwards details of the project to the Licensing and Audit Branch. This should be done as soon as the project receives final approval and before animal use begins.
Download a Fieldwork notification form.
Animal uses that do not require licensing for Scientific Procedures are:
- the treatment of an animal for the purpose of promoting its health or welfare by or in accordance with the instructions of a veterinary practitioner
- the conduct of animal husbandry carried out in accordance with a Code of Practice and
- the collection, taking, banding and marking of wildlife. The use of microchips, and tracking, data storage, and telemetry devices, however, must be licensed.
Scientific Procedures licences and Animal Ethics Committees
Applicants for Scientific Procedures licences must have an agreement with a properly constituted and functioning Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) to oversee animal use for the licence. The nominated AEC will be listed on the licence and no other AEC may be used. A properly constituted and functioning Animal Ethics Committee is one conforming with the National Health and Medical Research Council Australian Code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes.
The nominated AEC may be established by the licence holder or be an AEC run by another institution. In either case, responsibility for the conduct of the AEC remains with the licence holder. If the AEC does not operate in a legal manner, the licence holder must alter the AEC practices or cease to use that AEC. If an AEC is no longer used the licence holder must stop operations with animals until a replacement AEC can be found and an application made to the DEPI Licensing and Audit Branch to have the replacement AEC listed on the licence.
A licence holder wishing to conduct Scientific Procedures must apply for approval for the project to the nominated AEC. An application will consist of a completed form that will provide the Committee with sufficient information to assess whether the potential gain provided by the work is worth the impact on animal welfare. Information requested will include: detail and context of the planned procedures; the personnel involved and their levels of training; animal acquisition, housing and monitoring; as well as implementation of the principles of "the 3 Rs".
Organisations or individuals undertaking activities not approved by an AEC, or under the approval of an improperly constituted or functioning AEC are liable to prosecution.
Activities requiring additional permits
There are two specific animal use activities that require additional permits. The first is when the animal use involves studies where death is the end point or where the procedure results in high impact on the animal that cannot be alleviated. The second is when the use of animals involves the use of wildlife, fish or animals brought from other areas; that is, quarantine issues. The following links provide information about obtaining special permits for these activities