School sectors, schools, principals, Animal Welfare Liaison Officers, teachers and students must meet their responsibilities.

School sectors

Under Section 26 of the Act, every school using animals must hold a current, completed Animal Research Authority to use animals for research or teaching purposes.

The NSW Department of Education, the Catholic Schools NSW and the Association of Independent Schools of NSW apply for accreditation on behalf of schools which are part of their sectors.

Sectors are responsible for:

  • issuing to each school an annual Animal Research Authority (Schools)
  • ensuring that grievance procedures are in place to resolve concerns by members of the SACEC or teachers who are concerned about SACEC decisions
  • providing adequate resources to enable the SACEC to do its job and to enable schools to provide appropriate standards of care for animals in their charge.

Once the school has a current, completed Animal Research Authority it then has the responsibility to ensure the provision of:

  • adequate resources and facilities for the appropriate care and welfare of the animals
  • adequate security to ensure the safety of the animals, including during weekends and school holidays
  • a plan for handling emergency situations, including bushfire, flood, drought and vandalism, based on a current risk assessment related to the animals in the school’s care
  • a procedure that is consistent with the SACEC grievance procedures to resolve any grievances relating to the care and use of animals in schools.

The principal is responsible for:

  • ensuring compliance with all relevant legislation and the advice, standards and guidelines provided on the Animals in schools website
  • ensuring that all relevant documentation under the Act is maintained and available for inspection by duly authorised people
  • appointing an Animal Welfare Liaison Officer (AWLO). In primary schools, the principal is the AWLO
  • ensuring that adequate resources are provided to maintain in good repair the facilities for handling and holding animals and to ensure that the needs of animals can be met
  • ensuring that the SACEC is advised when animal-related incidents trigger the reporting provisions under the serious incidents policy. More information is available in Responding to incidents
  • resolving grievances regarding the use of animals in his or her school.

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 for the school by the principal. The duties of the AWLO include:

  • promoting awareness of the requirements of the Animal Research Act, other relevant legislation and the advice, standards and guidelines provided on the Animals in schools website
  • monitoring school programs to ensure that activities that use animals have SACEC approval
  • monitoring animal use at the school to ensure compliance with the guidelines or the terms of SACEC approval
  • ensuring that the school maintains appropriate records relating to the use of animals.
  • liaising with the SACEC, other teachers approved by the principal to use animals in the school, and the principal (in secondary schools)
  • making submissions on behalf of teachers to the SACEC for approval to conduct activities outside the guidelines
  • promoting, among teachers and students involved in the use of animals, discussion of the ethical issues of using animals and the evolving community expectations about the use of animals in research and teaching.

The teacher is responsible under the Act for the decision to use animals to achieve educational objectives. When animals are used, the teacher is responsible at all times for the care and use of the animals by:

  • ensuring that the care and use of animals are in accordance with all relevant legislation and the advice, standards and guidelines provided on the Animals in schools website
  • having an appropriate depth of understanding of the physical, behavioural and social needs of any species used
  • instructing students in their legal responsibilities and providing them with opportunities to explore the ethical and social issues involved in the use of animals
  • providing instruction and ensuring students have the appropriate level of competency to perform approved activities
  • identifying and incorporating methods which may replace, reduce or refine the use of animals in schools
  • obtaining written approval from the SACEC prior to commencement for any activities using animals for which approval is required. Application forms can be downloaded from Application forms
  • maintaining appropriate records as required by the Code and the AWLO. More information is available in the activities/record keeping section for each species
  • carrying out close and competent supervision of students when they are engaged in tasks
  • ensuring that parents have provided an appropriate written undertaking to care adequately for any animals that students may take home
  • ensuring that appropriate monitoring of the animals occurs at all times (including during weekends and holidays)
  • taking immediate steps to alleviate any pain, distress or illness in any animal
  • disposing of animals appropriately.

Students are required to treat animals with respect and consider their welfare at all times. Students should be given opportunities to exercise responsible care and use of animals. Students should:

  • care for and use animals in accordance with instructions from responsible teachers
  • obtain a written undertaking from the parent or caregiver that the animal will be adequately cared for if the student takes the animal home
  • comply with legislation relating to the care and use of animals for scientific purposes
  • actively consider ethical and community values and expectations as well as legislative requirements for the care and use of animals.


  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Curriculum and Reform
Return to top of page Back to top