The Animal Research Act 1985 (NSW) requires the SACEC to monitor the use of animals in all schools in NSW.
As part of the monitoring process, to ensure that schools are complying with the legislation, the Schools Animal Care and Ethics Committee (SACEC) routinely visits schools each year. Approximately sixteen schools are visited annually, involving schools from each of the three sectors.
These visits focus mainly on secondary schools that deliver agriculture and/or Primary Industries curriculum framework with some visits each year to primary schools that keep classroom pets or are involved in particular programs that use animals.
The dates and times for these visits are initially arranged by discussion between the school principal and the Schools Animal Welfare Officer. A formal letter, information sheet and school visit form to be completed by the Animal Welfare Liaison Officer (AWLO) and returned to the Schools Animal Welfare Officer, are then sent to the school principal. This letter confirms the visit date, time and the SACEC members involved. It is important that the completed school visit form is returned a week prior to the visit date.
The visit is usually in three parts:
- Initial discussions occur involving the AWLO, the principal and any other staff that are available and wish to participate. This discussion focuses on how animals are used in the school’s teaching programs and any other activities that involve the use of animals within the school.
- An inspection takes place of the facilities where the animals are housed and of the records documenting acquisition, disposal and all husbandry activities carried out with any animals kept at the school.
- Preliminary summation of findings of the committee are presented to the principal and AWLO and suggestions offered to maximise educational benefits to students and welfare benefits to animals.
The Schools Animal Welfare Officer then prepares a report that is presented at the next SACEC meeting. Once the recommendations of this report are finalised by the SACEC, a letter is generated, formally describing the outcome of the visit and documenting any changes to be made by the school to the keeping and use of animals.
It is important that schools understand that these school visits are a way for the SACEC to support and assist schools in their compliance with the relevant legislation. When teachers work within the legislation they are protected by the legislation.
If you have any concerns about a Schools Animal Care and Ethics Committee (SACEC) planned visit to your school, please do not hesitate to contact the Schools Animal Welfare Officer.
Below is a list of the things that the visiting members may wish to inspect and discuss during a school visit. The relevance of some of the items on the checklist will be determined by the type and number of animals kept by the school.
- Current Animal Research Authority.
- Number and type of animals used by the school.
- Years and courses taught that use animals.
- Any extra-curricular activities that involve animals.
- Teachers that use live animals and their competence in doing so.
- All records kept in relation to animals used by the school.
- Approvals for students to carry out any category 4 or 5 activities or for teachers to demonstrate any category 5 activity.
- Methods of disposal of animals.
- Housing of animals, including:
- temperature control
- hazard containment and cleaning equipment
- food storage
- waste disposal
- general storage
- Monitoring/care of animals, including:
- physical conditions
- exercise of animals
- bedding, pest and vermin control
- ages, pens, compounds – environment enrichment
- transportation of animals
- the person/s responsible seven days per week.
- Acquisition of animals.
- Breeding programs, including disposal of surplus animals.