Policies and Guidelines

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

All animals in Victoria are protected by:

POCTA and the Code are important resources, providing a model to guide schools in the ethical treatment and use of animals.

Further policies and guidelines

The 3Rs

Ethical and welfare issues surrounding any teaching activity involving animals must be considered. The principles of  Replacement, Reduction and Refinement, known as the 3Rs, should guide your activity:

  • Replacement – where possible animals should be replaced by, for example, models, software, or videos
  • Reduction – use no more than the minimum number of animals necessary. Reducing the number of animals, however, should not be at the expense of greater suffering of individual animals
  • Refinement – activities must be streamlined to minimise handling, discomfort, distress or pain in animals

The 5 Freedoms

The RSPCA is well-known nationally and its mission is to prevent cruelty to animals by actively promoting their care and protection. A key foundation of the RSPCA's philosophy is the belief that we must treat animals humanely. There are basic principles that should guide our actions where we have guardianship, or other influence, over the welfare of an animal. The welfare of an animal includes its physical and mental state. Good animal welfare implies both good health and a sense of wellbeing. 

The RSPCA considers an animal's welfare in the terms of the following 'five freedoms':

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst: by providing ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.
  2. Freedom from discomfort: by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease: by prevention through rapid diagnosis and treatment.
  4. Freedom to express normal behaviour: by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal's own kind.
  5. Freedom from fear and distress: by ensuring conditions and treatments that avoid mental suffering.

These principles will enable all species of animals to live according to their behavioural needs as provided by a compassionate and responsible community.

For more information, see: RSPCA

Model codes of practice and guidelines

Further codes of practice and guidelines derived from the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1986) and the Regulations (1997) describe minimum standards for species-specific animal care.

For more information, see: Department of Environment and Primary Industries Codes of Practice - Animal Welfare

Species notes

VSAEC publishes species notes, that provide information and guidance about the care and handling of particular species. They are written on the assumption that teachers have some familiarity with, or knowledge of, the animals included. Schools are encouraged to seek additional information about the species to be used.

See: Species Notes

Use of native animals

The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) administers a variety of licences and policies that relate to keeping native animals.

Schools must be aware that all native birds and animals are protected species. It is illegal to trap them anywhere in Victoria. Schools contemplating keeping native animals should note that a licence applies. This licensing arrangement is outside the scope of VSAEC but schools may obtain it directly from the DSE free of charge. If schools are planning to use wildlife for teaching purposes, please note that VSAEC approval is still required.

For more information, see: Department of Environment and Primary Industries - Wildlife in Schools

Australian Curriculum/Victorian Essential Learning Standards curriculum framework (AusVELS)

The Australian Curriculum/Victorian Essential Learning Standards curriculum framework (AusVELS) provides the framework for teachers to develop and implement teaching and learning activities which may include the use of animals and may address ethical issues in the use of animals.

See: Australian Curriculum/Victorian Essential Learning Standards

School Policy and Advisory Guide

The School Policy and Advisory Guide provides up-to-date information on the Department's policy and directions.

For more information, see: School Policy and Advisory Guide - Animals in Schools