Department of Health

Human Research Ethics Committee

The Department of Health and Department of Families, Fairness and Housing Human Research Ethics Committee (the Committee) was set up in 1986 to deal with matters of human research ethics for projects carried out under the aegis of the Department of Health, in accordance with guidelines provided by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

The National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992 requires that all research 'involving or impacting on humans' conforms to the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007). Research that does not conform to these guidelines cannot be approved. Research must also comply with the Australian code for the responsible conduct of research (2007), which replaced the Joint NHMRC/AVCC Statement and Guidelines on Research Practice (1997). Research that does not conform to these guidelines cannot be approved.

    Criteria for referral of research to the Committee

    Organisations that conduct human research must ensure their research is approved by a Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) which is constituted in accordance with the National Statement (NS s5.1.24)  such organisations usually have their own institutional HREC.  

    The Committee is an institutional HREC and the following criteria determine whether a research proposal of more than ‘low or negligible risk’, as defined (NS s2.1.6) should be referred to it for consideration.

    Where research involving human subjects is being undertaken by the Department of Health and the research cannot be considered by another HREC which is properly constituted in accordance with the National Statement.

    Where the Department of Health is providing funding to other organisations for the provision of services, the research relates to the clients of such an organisation, that organisation does not have its own HREC, and the research cannot be considered by another properly constituted HREC.

    Where the Department of Health has funded research to be conducted by another organisation, that organisation does not have its own HREC, and the research cannot be considered by another properly constituted HREC.

    Where there is a formal agreement signed by an authorised delegate of the Department and that of other organisations to accept research proposals for consideration by the Committee, but that other organisation does not have its own ethics committee.

    The Committee considers proposals in the portfolios of the former Department of Health and Human Services which now sit in the Department of Families Fairness and Housing including child protection, prevention of family violence, housing, disability, ageing and carers.

    Reviewed 26 October 2021

    Health.vic

    Contact details

    Ethics Committee Executive Officer, Human Research Ethics Committee

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