View Current

Human Research Ethics Committee - Membership and Terms of Reference

This is not a current document. To view the current version, click the link in the document's navigation bar.

Section 1 - Establishment

(1) Established in 1991.

(2) The Committee reports to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and, through the DVC (Ac)'s, to the Audit and Risk Committee of the University Council.

(3) The Committee is established in accordance with the provisions of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research.

(4) The the University applies a two-tiered system of review for all applications for research involving human participants. The two-tiered structure provides for an approval process wherein:

  1. research that is considered as more than 'low risk'* is approved by the Ethics in Human Research Committee (the first tier); and
  2. research that is considered as 'low risk'* is approved at the School level, by School Ethics Committees, and monitored by the Ethics in Human Research Committee (the second tier).

(5) Note: *According to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 'low risk' research is research in which the only foreseeable risk is one of discomfort.

Top of Page

Section 2 - Membership

(6) Nominee of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) as Presiding Officer

(7) One representative from each Faculty, appointed by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) in consultation with the Executive Deans of Faculty

  1. Lawyer*;
  2. Layman*;
  3. Laywoman*;
  4. Minister of Religion*;
  5. Medical graduate with research experience*;
  6. Health Representative;
  7. Indigenous Representative.

(8) The positions denoted with a * are required under guidelines issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Term of Office

(9) Members of the Committee will be appointed for a period of three years. Members can serve consecutive periods of membership at the discretion of the EHRC

Appointment of Members

(10) Members will be appointed by an open and transparent process; where possible it will be via consultation with current members, Heads of School, Executive Deans and DVC (Ac) seeking EOI; if necessary this process may be extended to include advertisement externally.

Pool of Inducted Alternate Members

(11) The Executive Officer of the Committee shall establish and maintain a pool of inducted alternate members in each of the membership categories required under the guidelines issued by the NHMRC.

(12) If one of the substantive members of the Committee (in the same category) cannot attend a meeting then one of the alternate members may attend the meeting in their place and participate in the meeting with the same rights of membership as the substantive member.

Executive Officer

(13) The Executive Officer shall be an officer appointed by the University Secretary. The Executive Officer shall have the right of audience and debate at meetings of the Committee.

Top of Page

Section 3 - Terms of Reference

(14) The Ethics in Human Research Committee shall:

  1. consider ethical implications of all proposed human research projects which involve more than 'low risk' conducted by the University staff and postgraduate students (including honours students) and to determine whether or not they are acceptable on ethical grounds;
  2. monitor 'low risk' research proposals approved by School Ethics Committees;
  3. receive and respond to complaints and issues of non-compliance raised by any person in relation to research that has been considered and approved by the Committee;
  4. submit, each quarter, a written report on its activities to the Audit and Risk Committee of the University Council;
  5. report annually to the National Health and Medical Research Council: to provide for surveillance of human research projects until completion so that the Committee may be satisfied that the conduct of the research continues to conform with the approved proposal;
  6. maintain a record of all proposed human research projects, so that the following items of information are readily available:
    1. project identification number;
    2. principal investigator(s);
    3. short title of project;
    4. ethical approval or non-approval with date;
    5. date(s) designated for review;
    6. the protocols of research approvals shall be preserved in the form in which they are approved.
  7. establish and maintain communication with the National Health and Medical Research Council's Medical Research Ethics Committee and provide access, upon request , to information in the the University Committee's records;

(15) In carrying out these functions, the Committee shall:

  1. conform with the National Health and Medical Research Council Statement on Human Experimentation and Supplementary notes on research in particular fields that may be published from time to time;
  2. take account of local culture and social attitudes in making decisions;
  3. ensure that procedures relating to obtaining consent are observed;
  4. ensure that no members of the committee adjudicate on proposals in which they may be personally involved; and
  5. ensure that while accepting that there is a duty to advance knowledge by research, the rights of individual patients, or subjects of research, take precedence over the expected benefits to human knowledge to the Community.
Top of Page

Section 4 - Review and Approval of Research Proposals

(16) When reviewing and approving research proposals, the Committee shall base all of its comments, requests for clarification or further information, on the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research Involving Humans, issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

(17) The Committee shall review each research proposal according to the following issues:

  1. Research Merit and Integrity;
  2. Justice;
  3. Beneficence; and
  4. Respect for human beings.

(18) The Committee shall meet each month (February to December) to review and approve all research proposals that have been received.

Applications Requiring Urgent Approval

(19) The Executive Officer of the Committee shall convene, on behalf of the Presiding Officer, an extraordinary meeting of the Committee to review and approve any research proposals that are received and which require urgent approval before the next scheduled meeting of the Committee.

(20) In those cases where an extraordinary meeting of the Committee cannot be convened, due to a lack of a quorum, the Executive Officer shall circulate the research proposal(s) that require urgent approval to the members of the Committee who shall, in writing, indicate their approval or otherwise of the proposal.

Top of Page

Section 5 - Quorum

(21) At any meeting of the Committee a quorum shall be a majority of the current membership of the Committee.

(22) Members unable to attend shall be encouraged to submit their views prior to the meeting for consideration during the meeting.

Top of Page

Section 6 - Confidentiality of Proceedings

(23) Matters which are discussed and papers which are considered during a meeting shall be confidential to the committee.