Staff and students at Deakin University in Victoria got a surprise last week when protesters descended on the Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus to demand changes to the way Deakin uses animals in science courses and research.
Led by Deakin student Alexandra Sedgwick – a science student doing a double major in cell biology and chemistry – the protesters held provocative signs which demanded that the university catch up to many colleges in the US where animal dissection has already been replaced with sophisticated anatomy software.
Here’s what some of the students had to say on the day:
The story made the front cover of The Age newspaper, and thousands of people voiced their support for the protesters on social media, so Sedgwick was full of enthusiasm as she prepared to meet with Executive Dean Trevor Day to demonstrate the anatomy software, which PETA has offered to help fund should the university decide to implement it to replace animal dissection.
Sadly, the dean refused even to look at the software.
Australia is lagging behind other countries where this technology is already being used. US medical schools, including Yale, Harvard, and Stanford, are already investing in digital-dissection software and human simulators.
Since Australia is ranked the fourth-biggest user of animals in experiments worldwide (China and Japan take the top two spots), it’s time we caught up with countries that take a more humane and progressive approach to education and research.
How You Can Help
PETA encourages students at other universities to speak up about animal use. Deakin is not the only university to use animals in science courses and research. As The Age reports, other universities also subject animals to unnecessary, stressful, and sometimes extremely painful experiments:
Six kittens were rendered deaf for a year and killed as part of a medical study by the University of Melbourne and the Bionics Institute.
Eight healthy marmosets, or small monkeys, became brain dead and were killed by an overdose of Nembutal during a Monash University study on brain injury.
Six greyhounds were given dental implants under general anaesthetic and kept alive for three months before being euthanised at Melbourne University’s dental school.
Rats were placed under chronic stress for 15 weeks before they were decapitated in a study evaluating risk factors for psychiatric disorders at the University of New South Wales.
More than 6 million animals are used each year in Australia for medical research, experiments, and surgical-skills training. Many young Australians report that they hesitate to sign up to study science because of the requirement to dissect and experiment on animals. For many, relocating to the US to conduct their studies is simply not financially viable.
It’s time we supported our young scientific minds by giving them the modern, ethical, and humane education they deserve.