School operations

Teaching with Animals

About the Victorian Schools Animal Ethics Committee

Roles and responsibilities

The purpose of the Victorian Schools Animal Ethics Committee (VSAEC) is to ensure on behalf of the department that all activities relating to the use and care of animals for scientific purposes by schools is ethically acceptable and conducted in accordance with the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposesExternal Link (the Australian code).

The Australian code covers the care and use of animals in teaching activities where the ‘scientific purpose’ is to impart or demonstrate knowledge or techniques to achieve an educational outcome in science, as specified in the relevant curriculum or competency requirement. The VSAEC provides competent, fair and timely review of applications and reports related to the care and use of animals in government, Catholic and independent schools in Victoria.

Each year, the VSAEC meets quarterly to assess applications from schools and, if required, more frequently, to assess new applications, monitor ongoing projects, evaluate completion advice and meet other mandated responsibilities.

For more information, refer to Animal Welfare Victoria's resource on Animal Ethics CommitteesExternal Link .

Committee composition

The Australian code stipulates a prescribed committee membership. The VSAEC comprises:

  • Chairperson
  • Category A: veterinarians with relevant experience
  • Category B: persons with substantial recent scientific or teaching experience in the use of animals
  • Category C: independent persons not involved in the scientific use of animals who have a demonstrable commitment to, and established experience in, furthering the welfare of animals
  • Category D: independent persons who have not been involved in the use of animals in scientific or teaching activities and who are independent of the institution
  • Category E: persons responsible for the routine care of animals from within the institution
  • Executive Officer
  • Independent Schools Victoria representative
  • Catholic education representative

Decisions on applications can be made by the VSAEC only at meetings where at least one representative from each of the categories A to D are present. In deciding on the approval of a project, the VSAEC will discuss the application and Category A to D members vote. Decisions to approve must be by consensus.

Terms of reference

The VSAEC Terms of reference can be downloaded from the Resources tab.

For any advice or assistance, teachers should contact the VSAEC Executive Officer at or by phone 1800 641 943.

Guidance chapter explaining the role of the Victorian Schools Animal Ethics Committee

Reviewed 11 October 2022

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