Animal Welfare

All animals in NSW are protected by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW). This act applies at all times to and deals with the cruel and unconscionable treatment of all animals. 

In addition to this, animals used in teaching or research of any kind in NSW are protected by special legislation, the Animal Research Act 1985 (NSW). This Act was introduced to ensure that whenever animals are used for teaching or research, it is justified, humane and considerate of the animal’s needs. It covers the use of animals in all primary or secondary schools, government or non-government. 

To assist NSW schools in meeting their obligations under this legislation there is an appointed Animal Welfare in Schools Advisor who works across the government and non-government schools.

Animals in Schools Website

The Animals in Schools website was re-launched in January 2023. 

The new look website contains guidance on the standards which must be met by schools, in accordance with the requirements of the Animal Research Authority and it incorporates in to the website and builds upon the Animal Welfare Guidelines for teachers document. The guidelines are the desirable practices to achieve desirable animal welfare outcomes, and extensive notes on the care and management of animals in schools.

The aim of this is to assist schools across all sectors to meet their requirements under the relevant legislation.

Each of the main species of animals kept in schools has its own page with detailed information on the species, including (but not limited to); the acceptable types to be kept in schools, information on the environment they need, food and water, health requirements, handling and transport information, activities that can be undertaken with that species and resources to assist the schools.

Information on specific issues such as the acquisition and disposal of animals, emergencies and disasters, security, animal events, dissection of animals etc. is also available.

Resources such as the interactive community of practice videos and resources are also available through the page. (see below)

Principal's Checklist

A Checklist for Principals has been developed for the Animals in Schools website, to provide Principals with a snapshot of the compliance requirements when housing animals at school. 

Schools Animal Care and Ethics Committee

The Animal Research Act 1985 (NSW) requires that the use of animals in teaching or research is supervised by an animal ethics committee. 

The Schools Animal Care and Ethics Committee (SACEC) was specifically set up to supervise the use of animals in government and non-government schools.

Because the most common use of animals in schools is for teaching and demonstration rather than research, schools have been recognised as a special case under the Animal Research Act 1985 (NSW). Teachers in schools supervised by the SACEC have special privileges relating to the use of animals for teaching and research not accorded to others. This underpins the system of SACEC Approved Activities that teachers must comply with.

The SACEC meets six times per year and consists of appointed representatives including veterinarians, animal welfare advocates, agricultural teachers, the animal welfare in schools advisor, and representatives from the schools sectors and BOSTES. The minimum makeup for the committee is set down by the Australian code of practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes. The school sectors are accountable to the Animal Research Review Panel (ARRP) for operation of the SACEC. 

Further information on the role of the committee, including its function in relation to schools visits and applications is available on the Animals in Schools - SACEC page.

Animal Research Authority 

In April each year the SACEC issues an Animal Research Authority, on behalf of the respective school sector, to schools in NSW that are accredited with the Department of Primary Industries. 

This authorises those staff who sign the authority, to use animals for the purposes of teaching and research, provided that the activities are in accordance with the provisions described in the Animals in schools website, and are carried out in accordance with the advice provided within the website. The current year's form for Independent Schools is attached to this page in 'Documents'.


Animal Welfare Coordinator
Representing schools in all sectors
Sally Bannerman -

Relevant Links

Animals in Schools

Animals in Schools website
Dedicated website for the use and care of animals in schools in NSW

Checklist for Principals
Quick checklist for Principals to ensure they have the appropriate compliance measures in place for animal welfare

School Visits
Information and checklist for schools who will be visited as a part of the SACEC's routine school visits

Educational Justification
Guidance on the requirements for schools justification for using animals for educational purposes

NSW Health
Support dogs in schools and the risk to students with allergy

SACEC Activities and Applications

SACEC approved activities and their respective categories
Activities approved for schools to undertake under the Animal Welfare Authority


Animal Research Act 1985 (NSW)
The object of this Act is to protect the welfare of animals used in connection with research and teaching

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW)
The objects of this Act are to prevent cruelty to animals, and to promote the welfare of animals


Access all Animal Welfare documents and resources
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