Animal Welfare - 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.

Changes since previous version

2023 Feb 08 - updated links in policy statement. Implementation document, Animal welfare guidelines for teachers, moved to related documents and renamed Animals in Schools.

Document history

2020 Jul 29 - updated minor details, inserted new links.

2020 May - updated contact details and minor style guide changes to wording.

2019 Oct 01 - updated contact details and made minor style changes.

Superseded documents

Memorandum 92/100 (S.65) Animal Welfare in Schools.
Memorandum 96/169 (S.160) Cruelty to Animals.
Memorandum 99/407 (S.301) Slaughter of Poultry at School.Changes since previous version

  1. Policy statement
    1. Department of Education staff must comply with the legislative requirements that govern the use of animals for educational purposes as interpreted on Animals in Schools.
    2. Staff must be able to provide an educational justification for the use of animals in school contexts. This may relate to the broad educational objectives described on Animals in Schools.
    3. Schools must provide conditions and management appropriate to the behavioural and physical needs of any animals used for educational purposes.
    4. Wherever and whenever animals are encountered in school activities, teachers are responsible for assisting students to develop a respect for animals and to understand the ethical issues involved in the use of animals.
    5. If incidents of animal cruelty occur, the procedures described on Animals in Schools and the Incident Notification and Response policy must be followed.
    6. The Schools Animal Care and Ethics Committee must carry out school inspections and record their outcomes. Schools must resolve any identified issues.
  2. Audience and applicability
    1. This policy applies to all school staff, workplaces and activities conducted under the auspices of NSW public schools.
  3. Context
    1. 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 Animal Research Act 1985 (NSW), and the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes govern the use of animals for educational purposes.
    2. Within the Animal Research Act 1985 (NSW) and the Australian code 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 committee monitors the use of animals for teaching and research purposes in NSW public schools.
  4. Responsibilities and delegations
    1. The Secretary seeks accreditation for NSW public schools as an animal research institution every 3 years and is the named responsible officer.
    2. Principals:
      1. ensure compliance with the advice on Animals in Schools, which specifies the roles and responsibilities of the Schools Animal Care and Ethics Committee, the department, school staff and students in relation to animal use
      2. ensur schools have an animal welfare liaison officer in primary schools this must be the principal
      3. retain authority and make inspections available by appropriately authorised people including school education directors, inspectors from the NSW Department of Primary Industries' Animal Welfare Unit and officers involved with the Schools Animal Care and Ethics Committee.
    3. Schools:
      1. retain the Animal Research Authority and make it available as necessary
      2. resolve any issues the Schools Animal Care and Ethics Committee identifies during routine visits
      3. make arrangements for the daily inspection of their animals and for the responsible person to be able to access veterinary care at short notice. This monitoring includes weekends and school holidays
      4. maintain comprehensive records documenting acquisition, disposal, chemical use and all husbandry activities carried out with their animals
      5. ensure evacuation and emergency plans cover information and procedures to ensure the welfare of animals is safeguarded in the event of flood, fire, drought, storm damage and vandalism
      6. report incidents of animal cruelty. Reporting procedures must include submitting a serious incident report and notifying the Schools Animal Welfare Coordinator about the incident. Schools must seek appropriate veterinary care for any injured animals.
    4. The Schools Animal Care and Ethics Committee:
      1. issues the Animal Research Authority on behalf of the department to each of its schools
      2. liaises with and reports to the Animal Research Review Panel annually. The review panel will inspect the committee every 3 years
      3. makes mandatory, routine visits to a sample of schools throughout NSW each year to monitor their use of animals.
  5. Monitoring and review
    1. The Animal Welfare Coordinator monitors the implementation of this policy, regularly reviews its contents to ensure relevance and accuracy, and updates it as needed.
  6. Contact
    Animal Welfare Coordinator
    02 7814 2631
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