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Panorama Newsletter

Animal Welfare Symposium: animal welfare at national level!

The Tecniplast event for Australia and New Zealand was an opportunity to promote education and networking between international leaders.

Malcolm France, Director of Animal Services at the University of New South Wales and consultant veterinarian in the care and management of laboratory animals, tells us his thoughts about the recent Tecniplast Australia Animal Welfare Symposium meeting.

Dear Dr Malcolm France, I see that you were speaker and moderator at the successful Tecniplast Australia Animal Welfare Symposium. Can you tell our readers what you think is the added value of this event which grows year after year?

I think it is the commitment to animal welfare among those attending. They choose their career because they have a passion for animal welfare and they see the Symposium as an important opportunity to advance their knowledge in this area.

I sensed a strong focus on ethics, respect, care and welfare of animals used in research in Australia and New Zealand. But the Symposium is also a great meeting to promote continuing education and networking with others in the field and get opinions from international leaders. Would you agree?

Absolutely. Animal care teams can’t just go off to our main annual conference together. Most of the team has to stay behind to look after the animals so one of the reasons behind the success of the Symposium is that it provides an additional opportunity for team members to take time out, learn and network with colleagues.

Participants seem to have a personal and professional commitment to the care, health and care for animals used in research. From some presentation and related Q&A sessions it seems that they are looking for exchange of information with the objective to identify higher standards. This Tecniplast event is perceived from the participants as an important meeting at a national level to promote communication, informed discussion and continuing education for improving animal welfare. Can you comment on that? Do you agree that animal welfare is one of the most important drivers, especially in Australia and NZ?

I am often impressed by the strong interest in continuing professional development in the laboratory animal care community so it doesn’t surprise me that the Symposium has been popular right from when it was started by Tecniplast over 10 years ago. It is now a firmly established part our training calendar in this part of the world. And I agree, our community is very strongly motivated by animal welfare so events like the Symposium fit very well with that.

I see that this year there was a Gnotobiotic Workshop at the Symposium. Do you think the pandemic influenced Gnotobiotic trends and activities in Australia and New Zealand? How do you see the post pandemic trends in LAS arena?

I have to confess that I know very little about gnotobiotics so I’m probably not the best person to comment on this! But I found that the Gnotobiotic Workshop provided a fascinating insight into the skill and ingenuity of the animal technicians who work in such a demanding area. As for future trends in LAS…

I think it’s difficult to predict what new technologies are just around the corner but one thing I’m very excited about is the move to greater openness in animal research. We hope to launch Openness Agreements soon in Australia and New Zealand and I expect this will do much to improve public understanding of LAS and the work of those dedicated to improving animal welfare.