Emergency notice

This policy is current as at 21/01/2020 03:14pm, AEDT. Please refer to policy library website (https://education.nsw.gov.au/policy-library) for an updated version.

Animal Welfare Policy - Schools

Information about school responsibilities related to the use of animals for educational purposes to ensure compliance with legislative requirements. Also included is information about correct procedures if an incident of animal cruelty occurs to animals used by the school.

1. Objectives - Policy statement


DEC staff must comply with the legislative requirements (as interpreted for schools in the document, Animals in schools: Animal welfare guidelines for teachers that govern the use of animals for educational purposes.


DEC staff must be able to provide an educational justification for the use of animals in school contexts. The justification may relate to the broad educational objectives described in Animals in schools: Animal welfare guidelines for teachers or specific syllabus requirements.


Schools must provide conditions and management appropriate to the behavioural and physical needs of any animals used for educational purposes.


Wherever and whenever animals are encountered in school activities, DEC teachers are responsible for assisting students to develop a respect for animals and to understand the ethical issues involved in the use of animals.


If incidents of animal cruelty occur, the procedures described in the documents, Animals in schools: Animal welfare guidelines for teachers and Guidelines for Schools and Incident Reporting Policy (staff only) must be followed.

2. Audience and applicability


This policy applies to all DEC school staff, workplaces and activities conducted under the auspices of NSW public schools.

3. Context


The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW) applies to all people in NSW at all times and deals with the cruel and unconscionable treatment of all animals. In addition the use of animals for educational purposes is governed by the Animal Research Act 1985 (NSW) and the Australian code of practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes.


Within the Animal Research Act 1985 (NSW) and the Australian code of practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes, the term scientific purposes includes teaching and requires teaching institutions to establish animal ethics committees to ensure compliance.

The Schools Animal Care and Ethics Committee (SACEC) is the appointed animal ethics committee for NSW public schools, with its constitution and procedures prescribed in the Animal Research Act 1985 (NSW). The SACEC monitors the use of animals for teaching and research purposes in NSW public schools

4. Responsibilities and delegations


The Secretary, Department of Education and Communities seeks accreditation for NSW public schools as an animal research institution every three years and is the named responsible officer.


Each year the SACEC issues an Animal Research Authority on behalf of the NSW Department of Education and Communities to each of its schools. This Authority must be retained at the school and made available for inspection by appropriately authorised people including school education directors, inspectors from the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ Animal Welfare Unit and officers involved with the SACEC.


Principals are responsible for ensuring compliance with Animals in schools: Animal welfare guidelines for teachers. This document specifies the roles and responsibilities of the SACEC, the Department of Education and Communities, school staff and students in relation to animal use.


For each school there is to be an Animal Welfare Liaison Officer (AWLO). The AWLO is to be the principal of the school in a primary school. The AWLO in a secondary school is to be appointed by the principal.

5. Monitoring, evaluation and reporting requirements


The Animal Research Review Panel (ARRP) is a statutory authority which monitors implementation of the Animal Research Act 1985 (NSW). In public schools SACEC, as the nominated animal ethics committee, liaises with and reports to ARRP on an annual basis and is inspected by ARRP every three years.


The SACEC makes routine visits to a sample of schools throughout NSW each year to monitor their use of animals. It is mandatory that these inspections are carried out, their outcomes recorded and that schools act to resolve any identified issues.


Schools must make arrangements for the daily inspection of the animals they keep and for the responsible person to be able to access veterinary care at short notice. This monitoring includes weekends and school holidays.


Schools must maintain comprehensive records documenting acquisition, disposal and all husbandry activities carried out with the animals kept by the school for educational purposes.


If schools keep animals, their evacuation and emergency plans must include information and procedures to ensure the welfare of animals is safeguarded in the event of flood, fire, drought, storm damage and vandalism.


Schools are required to report incidents of animal cruelty. Reporting procedures must include the submission of a Serious Incident Report and the notification of the incident to the Schools Animal Welfare Officer. Appropriate veterinary care must be sought for any injured animals.

6. Contact

Animal Welfare in Schools Advisor (02) 9244 5520.

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