Managing approved projects

Managing approved projects

Executive committee review process

The Executive committee of the AEC reviews only requests to add/remove personnel on an approved protocol, and minor amendments that, if required to wait for the next scheduled AEC meeting, constitute an animal welfare emergency.

In order to have a new person request reviewed by the Executive, the Request to change/add personnel to an existing Animal Research Authority (see forms here) should be emailed to animal.ethics@mq.edu.au, with a note in the email requesting Executive consideration and explaining why the request is urgent and cannot wait until the next scheduled AEC meeting.

Emergencies (outside of new person requests) will be considered on a case-by-case basis. An email should be sent to animal.ethics@mq.edu.au explaining the situation.

AEC approval for animal research can be granted for a period of up to three years, although each Animal Research Authority (ARA) is valid for up to 12 months only.

Reporting requirements are set by the legislation governing animal research in NSW. All ARA holders are required by law to submit to the AEC:

  • annual Progress Reports before expiry of each ARA (if approved the AEC then issues a new ARA for the work to continue) and
  • a Final Report within one month of expiry of the full approval duration (or earlier if work is completed or ceased).

Adherence to these requirements is a condition of all ARAs.

Annual progress reports

Progress reports must be submitted to the AEC in time for review at an AEC meeting before the ARA expires.

  • The information supplied in the Progress report is required under the legislation covering animal research in NSW (see The Code).
  • Following a review of the report, the AEC may determine on the basis of the report and further consultation with the investigator, whether a project may continue, be suspended, require modification or be discontinued (see The Code).
  • The role of the report is to justify to the AEC whether a new Animal Research Authority (ARA) should be issued for work to continue. The report will be viewed as a stand-alone document: the detail provided should reflect this.

NB Any animal work carried out during the period after expiry of an ARA and before issuance of a new ARA is being carried out in breach of the NSW Animal Research Act.

If reports are lodged such that they cannot be reviewed by the AEC before expiry of the ARA, researchers will be expected to cease their animal work until such time as the AEC issues approval for the work to continue.

Final reports

Final report must be submitted to the AEC within one month of expiry of the full approval duration (or earlier if work is completed or ceased). The information supplied in the Final report is required under the legislation covering animal research in NSW (see The Code).

MQ Policy regarding Final Reports:

  • The Research Office will send an email to researchers as a reminder when a Final Report is due.
  • If the Final Report is not submitted within one month of the Animal Research Authority (ARA) date of Expiry, a follow-up reminder email will be sent.
  • If the Final Report is not submitted within one month of the follow-up reminder, the researcher's immediate supervisor will be notified.
  • If the Final Report remains outstanding for a further month (now three months after the ARA date of Expiry) no further AEC approvals will be issued (for any project) until the report is submitted.

Of course the AEC understands that extenuating circumstances sometimes arise that may make it difficult to comply with this policy. Researchers are highly encouraged to make contact with the Animal Ethics Secretariat to discuss their situation and work out a solution.

Annual reporting to Department of Primary Industries on animal use statistics

Animal use statistics for the University must be submitted to Department of Primary Industries on an annual basis. This information is used by the Government for collating the annual report of the Animal Research Review Panel.

All ARA holders are therefore required to submit a report on animals used each calendar year. The Animal Ethics Secretariat will distribute forms for these reports (usually around December each year) prior to their falling due.

NB: this Government report is in addition to the Progress and Final Reports that must be submitted to the AEC.

Amendment to an approved project

Any changes to an approved project must first be considered and approved by the Animal Ethics Committee. Written approval must be obtained from the AEC before you proceed with any change.

For requests other than addition of personnel (see below), please complete the Request for Amendment to existing Animal Research Authority (Other than for Change of Personnel) see forms here.

If there are substantial changes to the project (ie. a major amendment), or changes that significantly alter the direction of the research, a NEW application may be required.

Examples of amendments

  • Addition or removal of an investigator
  • Changing the Principal Investigator
  • Minor change to the number of animals required
  • Change to the strain or age of animals required
  • Change in the dose rate or route of administration of a substance
  • Minor changes to a currently approved technique
  • Change in the type of anaesthetic drug to be administered
  • Changes to housing, housing location or monitoring of experimental animals
  • Extension of time to the duration of approval

All amendment requests must be received on or before the close of submission date in order to be considered at the next scheduled AEC meeting.

Addition of new personnel to an approved project

Addition of new personnel (e.g. students / visiting fellows / fieldwork volunteers) to work on animal procedures under an approved protocol must be first considered and approved by the AEC. Written approval must be obtained from the AEC before the new person can commence animal work on the protocol.

Addition or removal of personnel is usually considered a minor amendment. Please complete the Request to change/add personnel to an existing Animal Research Authority (see forms here).

All Macquarie University employees and students performing animal based research must complete Research Animal Care and Ethics (RACE) training, no matter what their level of experience. Everyone performing animal based research at Macquarie University or under a Macquarie University AEC protocol must have proof of attendance at an animal ethics course. The Research Animal Care and Ethics training consists of online, seminar and practical sessions and aims to provide researchers using animals with knowledge and practical skills. A certificate is issued after completing RACE training.

New researchers will not be added to Animal Research Authorities until the training is done. More experienced researchers will also be asked to complete RACE training or updates. Until such time as personnel can complete this RACE training, the AEC must be satisfied that they will receive ample supervision and training from senior research staff on the protocol.

Animal technicians and animal care staff

Personnel who work as Animal Technicians/Animal Care Staff also require AEC approval, however they should not be listed on a research or teaching application to the AEC unless they are also involved in specific research procedures (eg anaesthesia, blood collection etc.).

Where Macquarie Animal Research Services (MARS) staff provide routine animal care and husbandry for animal in a research protocol, AEC approval is already in place and no further application needs to be made.

Where it is proposed that personnel other than MARS staff perform routine animal care and husbandry or any variation from the MARS approved animal care and husbandry procedures are proposed, approval must be obtained from the AEC prior to instituting the changes, and must cease if approval is withdrawn.

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