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Animals in education

The Department of Education and Training is committed to ensuring that all animals in Queensland schools have appropriate standards of welfare.

It is the teacher's responsibility to provide a pedagogical justification for any learning activity that involves the use of animals. The use of animals must provide an added component to the learning that is not trivial or available in other ways, and there must be evidence to support this position.

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Duty of care

If you are in charge of an animal, regardless of what you are using it for or how long it will be in your care, you have a duty of care to that animal and legal obligations under animal welfare legislation.

Refer to Duty of care for animals External Link for further information about appropriate care to safeguard the internationally recognised '5 freedoms' of animal welfare:

  1. freedom from hunger and thirst
  2. freedom from discomfort
  3. freedom from pain, injury or disease
  4. freedom to express normal behaviour
  5. freedom from fear and distress.

Types of animal use

Schools may engage in a variety of activities involving animal use.

Non-scientific use of animals in schools includes keeping of classroom pets, use of assistance and companion animals, and various other Category 1 activities as detailed in Categories of animal use activities.

Animal use for scientific purposes, classified as Categories 2 and 3 of Categories of animal use activities, must comply with the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes Adobe PDF document External Link 8th edition 2013. Animal ethics consideration and approval by the Queensland Schools Animal Ethics Committee (QSAEC) is required prior to animal use for scientific purposes.

Use the step-by-step decision making process to determine whether approval is required by the QSAEC before you commence your animal use.

Procedures governing use of animals in Queensland state schools

The Animals in Queensland State Schools External Link procedure outlines the responsibilities of principals and other school staff for animal use in schools to ensure compliance with animal welfare legislation.

The Assistance Animals in Schools External Link procedure outlines what Queensland state schools must do to satisfy anti-discrimination legislation in allowing the use of assistance animals by students with disability.

Animal information

Species-specific information is available at Animal information.

Student and staff health

Those involved in the care and use of animals should make themselves aware of the potential disease hazards and other associated occupational health and safety issues, and manage risks according to the school's risk management process. Apart from injuries which may occur due to handling animals, there are a variety of infectious diseases (zoonoses External Link) that are transmissible from various animals to humans.

Zoonotic diseases are common and the illnesses they cause can be serious. They can be spread by direct contact with animals, such as bites or scratches, or through indirect contact with animal faeces, bodily fluids, aerosols, birth products or enclosures contaminated with these materials.

Staff should familiarise themselves with the zoonoses the animals in their care may potentially transmit, the routes of transmission and what activities may potentially expose staff or students to infection. This research will inform the risk assessment to determine how to manage these risks or determine whether the activity should be conducted at all.

For comprehensive advice regarding zoonotic diseases and precautionary measures to minimise risks to staff and students, refer to Handling Live Animals in a School Setting Adobe PDF document376K, Animal contact guidelines - reducing the risk to human health Adobe PDF document External Link and Preventing Zoonoses External Link.

Biosecurity Queensland manages risks to Queensland's primary industries associated with potentially harmful pests and diseases. Please visit their website for further information about animal disease and disease prevention External Link or subscribe to their eNewsletters and/or Alerts to get the latest biosecurity news.

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This page was last reviewed on 23 May 2016 at 09:16AM

Latest news

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Important dates

QSAEC dates

Term 1
Applications close - Wednesday 17 February 2016
QSAEC meeting - Wednesday 9 March 2016

Term 2
Applications close - Wednesday 4 May 2016
QSAEC meeting - Wednesday 25 May 2016

Term 3
Applications close - Wednesday 3 August 2016
QSAEC meeting - Wednesday 24 August 2016

Term 4
Applications close - Wednesday 2 November 2016
QSAEC meeting - Wednesday 23 November 2016

Contact us

Telephone: 351 35916
Fax: 351 35989
Postal address: PO Box 15033

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