Animal Ethics Committees: Functions, Operations, Membership & Terms of Reference

Function of the AECs
The primary function of the AECs is to ensure, on behalf of the Alfred Research Alliance institutions, that all use and care of animals is conducted in compliance with the Australian Code and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

The AEC:

  • Approves and reviews guidelines for the care of animals that are bred, held and used for scientific or teaching purposes
  • Assesses proposals for ethics approval
  • Reviews annual and final reports
  • Monitors the acquisition, transportation, production, housing, care, use and fate of animals involved in approved projects
  • Conducts inspections and monitor activities and record keeping of projects approved by the AEC
  • Makes recommendations to the GAP Committee on measures needed to ensure that the standards of the Code of Practice are maintained
  • Facilitates ongoing education of AEC members
  • Reports at least annually to the GAP Committee on the AEC’s activities

Further details on the functions of the AECs are in the AEC Terms of Reference and Operating Procedures.

Two AECs
There are two AECs in operation on this campus – AEC A and AEC B. Each committee meets on a monthly basis.  This allows investigators two submission opportunities for new experimental applications each month. The AECs convene approximately two weeks after the submission deadline. For consistency purposes, modifications and other project specific documentation relating to an approved project are reviewed by the same committee as reviewed the original application. That is, if the original application was reviewed by AEC A, any modifications will also be reviewed by AEC A. The Animal Welfare Compliance Officer and a member of animal care staff attend all meetings to maintain uniformity across the AECs.

Membership with the AEC is in accordance with the Australian Code (Section 2.2.2), and includes a separate person appointed to each of the following categories:
Category A: a person with qualifications in veterinary science and with experience relevant to the activities of the institution
Category B: a suitably qualified person with substantial recent experience in the use of animals in scientific or teaching activities
Category C: a person with demonstrable commitment to and established experience in furthering the welfare of animals, who is not employed by or otherwise associated with the institution, and who is not involved in the care and use of animals for scientific purposes
Category D: an independent person (lay person) who has never been involved in the use of animals in scientific or teaching activities

Attendance is required from all four categories for the AEC to be quorate. If the AEC has more than four members, Categories C plus D should represent no less than one third of the members.

Additional membership (whose attendance is not mandatory for the AEC to be quorate):
• The person in charge of the daily care of the animals
• The AEC may also co-opt members with particular expertise to assist the committee in their deliberations

Terms of Reference and Operating Procedures 

A+ AEC Terms of Reference and Operating Procedures – September 2021