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Human Anatomy Policy

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Section 1 - Overview

(1) The University of New England undertakes the teaching, examinations and research in the field of human anatomy. 

(2)  The conduct of these activities are primarily carried out in the School of Rural Medicine’s Anatomy Facility using bodies donated for teaching and research purposes. These activities are undertaken in accordance with the Anatomy Act 1977 and the Human Tissue Act 1983.

(3) This policy provides a framework for the management and utilisation of the University's Anatomy Facility and its Dissection Room in respect to the reception, handling, storage, use and disposal of donated cadavers.

(4) This Rule must be read in conjunction with the associated Human Anatomy Procedures.

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Section 2 - Scope

(5) This Rule applies to all UNE Representatives, Students, contractors and visitors to the Anatomy Facility who use the Facility’s resources for any purpose. 

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Section 3 - Policy


(6) The University recognises the significant contribution made by those who donate their bodies for study, teaching and research purposes with the support of their families and is committed to treating all donors entrusted to its care with the utmost respect, dignity and professionalism.

(7) In keeping with this commitment, the University requires its employees and Students to obey all legal, public health, and ethical standards associated with the handling of bodies and human tissues.

(8) The use of human cadveric material for teaching and research is a privilege, not a right.

(9) No anatomical specimen or cadaveric material shall be removed from the laboratory for any reason except on inter-institutional loan or disposal of the remains at the end of its use.


(10) The governance and practices of the discipline of anatomy are overseen by the Head of the School of Rural Medicine. The Head of School receives advice on the management of anatomy from the:

  1. Chief Anatomist – a position that is held by the academic discipline lead (professor / associate professor/ senior lecturer of anatomy);
  2. School of Rural Medicine Operations Manager; and
  3. Estate and Built Environment.

Licences to Conduct Anatomical Examinations

(11) Licences to conduct anatomical examinations are issued by the Director-General of the Department of Health in accordance with the Anatomy Act 1977. The Director-General may also revoke a licence to conduct anatomical examinations. The University may only conduct anatomical examinations when in possession of a valid and current licence.

(12) The University's Anatomy Facility is covered by a licence to conduct anatomical examinations (e.g. mortuaries, laboratories, museums). The holder of the Licence to Conduct the Study and Practice of Anatomy must comply with the standards set out in the Anatomy Act 1977 the Human Tissue Act 1983 and the Public Health Act 1991.

(13) The Head of the School of Rural Medicine is responsible for monitoring the University's compliance within these licensing provisions, and ensuring that the University retains, or where necessary, updates its licence to conduct anatomical examinations. 

Access to Anatomy Facilities

(14) Access to the Anatomy Facility is restricted to: 

  1. Licensee;
  2. School of Rural Medicine Operations Manager and School Office Manager;
  3. Students enrolled in the Joint Medical Program (JMP) at UNE are authorised (by condition of granting licence) to use the facilities for JMP core teaching activity;
  4. Participants in other approved short courses;
  5. Safety, Security and Information Officers;
  6. University contractors for cleaning; and
  7. Other users who are authorised under legislation to gain access in order to perform the official duties of their position.

Access to Human Body, Section and Tissue Storage Equipment

(15) Equipment used to store bodies and/or human tissue (e.g. fridges, specimen tanks, human tissue bins) are only to be accessed by anatomy employees, or those under their immediate supervision. Under no circumstances is any other individual to touch, or otherwise access, this equipment. Any attempt to gain unauthorised access to body, and/or human tissue storage equipment, whether the attempt is successful or not, will be considered to be in breach of this Rule and may be subject to disciplinary action.


(16) All individuals must complete a formal induction prior to being admitted to the UNE Anatomy Facility. At a minimum, this induction will cover:

  1. relevant safety standards and procedural requirements for the facility; and
  2. applicable University and legislative requirements relating to utilisation of the Anatomy Facility and/or mistreatment of bodies/human tissue, and the consequences of breaching these requirements (refer to Disciplinary Proceedings section).

(17) In addition to the, above, individuals who are likely to see, and/or handle, bodies or human tissue while in the Anatomy Facility must, prior to entering the facility, complete a more comprehensive induction covering:

  1. professional standards expected with respect to the handling, and treatment, of bodies and/or human tissue;and
  2. vaccination standards (a full list of is contained within the definitions section of this Rule).

(18) The Head of the School of Rural Medicine will be responsible for ensuring processes are in place to provide all users of the Anatomy Facility with the necessary induction. The Senior Technical Officer and senior academic of the Facility are responsible for carrying out the required inductions. A record will be kept of the names of all participants who complete the induction program.

Reception, Storage, Handling, Tracking and Disposal of Bodies/Human Tissue

(19) The Head of School of Rural Medicine will be responsible for overall management of the UNE body donor program and the relevant administrating officer will carry out the procedural and legislative steps of this process.

(20) Communication with prospective donor or next of kin during donor registration, reception of cadaver, disposal of bodies/body parts and communicating with family members in care of ashes will be handled by administration officer and technical officer. The official authorization of this process will be the responsibility of Head of School and the senior academic of anatomy.

(21) Staff and Students are required to familiarise themselves with legislative requirements and related University procedures associated with this Policy, pertaining to the receipt, storage, handling, tracking, and disposal of bodies and human tissue, and to ensure that they conduct all their activities in strict adherence to those requirements. To assist Students, the University will provide information regarding applicable legislative and procedural requirements.

(22) In the event that the University wishes to retain a body, human body part, or human tissue sample beyond the approved retention date, the University must obtain approval to do so, in accordance with the Anatomy Act 1977 and any of its associated legislation. Requests for extended retention of bodies or human tissue samples must be lodged well in advance to ensure approval is obtained prior to the expiration of the initial approved retention date.

(23) As part of its schedule or as required, the Internal Audit may request access to administrative information associated with the UNE Anatomy Facility. Staff and Students are expected to comply with all reasonable requests and instructions of the Internal Audit staff in relation to the conduct of these audits.

In the event of distress

(24) The School of Rural Medicine acknowledges that there may be certain cultural beliefs among indigenous staff or Students and other staff or Students with similar beliefs with regards to human cadavers and those beliefs will be respected by the School.

(25) In an event of distress when a staff member or Student first encounter human bodies, body parts, sections or tissue, senior staff member/s must be aware of the situation, and they are expected to respond sympathetically and appropriately. Students and authorised Anatomy Facility users will have access to University Counsellors to help them resolve such issues

(26) All Student and authorised Anatomy Facility users' concerns will be treated confidentially.

Photographs and Images of Human bodies, Sections, or Tissues

(27) Students/staff/researchers are not to take cameras, videos, mobile phones or any other device capable of transmitting data, capturing images or audio (including X-ray, ultrasound, CT etc.) into the Anatomy Facility (or any other on or off-campus facility where human bodies, sections or tissues may be stored or made available) without the explicit permission of the Head of School (or delegate).

(28) In the event that a student wishes to record an image of a body or human tissue for teaching or research purposes he/she must obtain written approval in accordance with the procedures associated with this Policy. Anatomical sketches, such as those used for course notes, are exempt from this requirement on the proviso that they do not depict personal information as defined by the Health Records Information Privacy Act 2002 (NSW).

(29) Permission to record an image of a body, body part, or human tissue may be granted by the Head of School or his/her delegate, providing that the image does not contain any personal or identifying information, and only where she/he is satisfied:

  1. that the necessary consent has been provided by the donor; and
  2. that the recording fulfils a valid teaching, or research, need.

(30) Where permission to record an image is granted, the image must be used solely for the approved purpose. Under no circumstances is the image to be used in any manner which goes beyond the scope of the approval.

Disciplinary Proceedings

(31) All UNE Representatives and Students must comply with this Policy. A failure to comply with this Policy may amount to misconduct/serious misconduct and/or unsatisfactory performance. The University of New England reserves the right to instruct individuals (including staff, Students and visitors) to vacate its facilities and/or premises, and it will enforce this through legal means (i.e. the Police) where necessary.

(32) Failure to follow the reasonable directions of supervisors, or other authorised University employees (e.g. Safety, Security and Information Officers, or any employee acting in relation to the performance of their duties as a University employee) is considered to be a breach of this policy, as is any subsequent action which directly, or indirectly, undermines the intent of those directions.

(33) Internal disciplinary action will be managed as stated in the UNE Staff Enterprise Agreement.

(34) Participation in any activity which directly or indirectly breaches State or Federal law, may be subject to internal and/or external disciplinary proceedings. Where observed, the University of New England will report illegal activity to the appropriate authorities (e.g. the Police). The University's Director Governance and University Secretary, the Director Estate and Built Environment and the Head of Safety, Security and Information, must be informed in all cases of potential offences under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and these persons will be responsible for liaison with external bodies including law enforcement agencies, should an event arise.


(35) The Head of School Rural Medicine is authorised to administer this Policy and to coordinate creation of Procedures to apply under this Policy. The Procedures must be consistent with this Policy.

(36) This is a Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer policy and vested authority is granted for decisions made under this policy to the nominated parties. The Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer retains discretion over decisions made under this policy.

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Section 4 - Definitions

For the purpose of this policy the following definitions apply.

(37) Anatomical examination refers to the examination of a body, body part, or section, including the dissection of a body, body part, or section, for the purposes of educational purposes. This excludes a formal forensic medical post mortem examination.

(38) Anatomy employee refers to a UNE Representative employed specifically by the School of Rural Medicine who requires access to human bodies, body parts, sections, and/or tissue for the purposes of teaching anatomy for educational purposes connected with medicine or science.

(39) Anatomy Register refers to the official register kept and maintained in accordance with relevant legislation and the university Records Management Rule.

(40) Body refers to a dead human body, which may also be referred to as a cadaver.

(41) Body part (sectioned part) refers to a separated portion of a human body.

(42) Confidential relates to the non-disclosure of "personal information" as described within the NSW Health Records and Information Privacy Act, 2002.

(43) Human tissue refers to an organ, or other part of a human body.

(44) Licence holder refers to a person approved by the Department of Health as the anatomy Licence holder.

(45) Receiving Officer refers to the UNE staff member, or designated support staff member, who has completed induction training in relation to the reception of a body into the UNE Anatomy Facility.

(46) Retained Body Part Register refers to the most current version of the official register, filed within the University's corporate record keeping system (TRIM) in accordance with prevailing legislation. The register details:

  1. the unique UNE cadaver identification number, the body part(s) retained for the purposes of the teaching of anatomy to undergraduate and postgraduate students;
  2. date of entry of the part to the collection of UNE Body Parts: and
  3. date of release/disposal of the UNE cadaver identification numbered body part(s) from the University.

(47) Senior next of kin is defined as per the Anatomy Act, 1977.

(48) Vaccination Standards means any UNE Representative or Student who would handle cadaveric specimens must provide evidence that they have been immunized against the following, as outlined by NSW Health (procedures relating to "Occupational assessment, screening and vaccination against specified infectious diseases"):

  1. Diptheria
  2. Tetanus
  3. Pertussis
  4. Hepatitis B
  5. Measles, Mumps, Rubella
  6. Varicella
  7. TB