Department of Health

Terms of reference

The functions of the Committee are:

  • To consider the ethical implications of research proposals submitted to it for review.
  • To evaluate the ethical conduct of relevant research involving humans according to National Health and Medical Research Council's National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2018) (NS) and The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2018) (Australian Code). “Relevant research” is research involving humans which meets the criteria for referral to the Committee.
  • To comply with all guidelines and legislation relevant to research proposals considered.
  • To provide advice on matters of an ethical nature, as required by the Secretary of the Department of Health (the Secretary).
  • To provide a report annually to the Secretary.

The Committee will:

  • Be appointed for a period of three years, with members able to apply for reappointment.
  • Have power to co-opt experts suitable to its needs.
  • Notify the Department of Health whenever a vacancy occurs in its membership so that a replacement may be appointed.
  • Be provided with Secretariat support.
  • Be remunerated in accordance with the rates for Group C Organisations as set out in the Department of Premier and Cabinet Guidelines on Appointment and Remuneration (1 July 2019).
  • Be an insured entity under the Department of Health Corporate Insurance Program. Committee members will be protected by comprehensive insurance cover, which includes public liability and professional indemnity insurance.
  • Members are appointed for three years. Vacancies in all membership categories arise from time to time.

Constitution of Human Research Ethics Committee


Number appointed


Chair (Interim)



Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander






Knowledge and Expertise (Care and Counselling)















Dr Lowen Clarke - Interim Chair

Dr Lowen Clarke is a writer who holds a doctorate in Therapeutic Arts Practice, as well as qualifications in Professional Writing, Divinity, and Applied Science in Organisation Dynamics. Dr Clarke is a current member of the Department of Health Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) as a layperson and has also served on several committees and community groups. Dr Clarke has the ability to look at situations and information from many disciplines and points of view, whether being creative writing, theology, psycho-traumatology.

Dr Clarke's strong literary background, as well as his strength, keen interest and commitment to logical thinking, formal structure, Philosophy and ethical discipline, enables him to provide a valuable contribution to the DH ethics committee.

Professor Victoria White - Researcher

Victoria White (PhD) is Professor Psycho-oncology in the School of Psychology at Deakin University and Principal Research Fellow in the Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer (CBRC) at Cancer Council Victoria. Taking up the role at Deakin University in 2017, Victoria has spent most of her research career with the Cancer Council Victoria where she gained substantial experience in cancer control and oncology research.

Over her research career, Prof White has had two main research areas: understanding the prevalence of tobacco and alcohol use in adolescents and identifying ways to improve the care of people with cancer. Professor White has a long involvement with the national study of tobacco; alcohol and illicit substance use in Australian secondary students (ASSAD) and was the principal investigator for this project between 2002 and 2018. This work involved collaboration with state and territory partners to undertake surveys of over 20,000 secondary school students across Australia every three years.

Professor White has produced major reports for the Australian Government's Department of Health and Ageing and the Victorian Department of Health relating to the findings from this study. Her work in the area of cancer patients has involved the development of surveys to assess patients experience of care, surveys assessing the management of different adult and adolescents/young adult cancers and testing interventions to determine their ability to reduce distress in people affected by cancer including those diagnosed with a BRCA1/2 mutation.

Professor White's research has been funded by a range of Australia's key research funding bodies including NHMRC, Cancer Australia, National Breast Cancer Foundation and the Victorian Cancer Agency. She has published over 170 peer-refereed papers with high impact (h-Index: Google Scholar 50) and has authored over 200 reports to governments at the state and federal level and state-based cancer societies and consumer advocacy organisations. She has published in Journal of Clinical Oncology, Psychoncology, Supportive Care in Cancer, Addiction and Tobacco Control.

She currently serves on Cancer Council Victoria's Medical and Scientific Standing Research Sub-Committee (2004-ongoing) and is on the access committee for Register4 (a register of people interested in taking part in research projects) and has participated in National Breast Cancer Foundation and Cancer Australia grant review panels. She was a member of Cancer Australia's Data Advisory Committee (2012-2017). She received the Nigel Gray Award for Achievement in Tobacco Control in the Oceania Region in 2013.

Dr Rachel Earl - Knowledge and expertise (Care and Counselling)

Dr Rachel Earl is a public health practitioner who lives and works on the lands of the Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri People in the South East of Melbourne. Rachel holds a combined Master of Psychology (Clinical)/PhD from the University of Adelaide and a Master of Public Health (Health Management) from Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health.

Rachel is passionate about the intersection of psychology and public health and has built experience across spheres of government in Australia, University teaching and research, the United Nations, and International Non-Government Organisations. Rachel's current role is as Manager of Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention at South Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network (SEMPHN). At SEMPHN, Rachel, and her team, work with those with lived experience of suicide and other partners to implement place-based approaches to suicide prevention.

In addition, the Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention team contribute to the commissioning and contract management of a range of clinical and non-clinical services that support the mental health and wellbeing needs of the local community.

Adjunct Professor (practice) Nicholas Coppel - Community member

Nicholas Coppel CSI is an Adjunct Associate Professor (Practice) at Monash University, and a former career diplomat and Ambassador. He was Australia's Ambassador to Myanmar from 2015-2018 leading a team of 18 diplomatic staff and 80 local staff and managing a $42million aid program. Between 2011 and 2013 Nicholas headed the 500+ person Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands in restoring law and order and governance in Solomon Islands after a period of ethnic tensions. Overseas, Nicholas has also served as Australia's Deputy High Commissioner in Port Moresby and Deputy Head of Mission in Manila, with an earlier posting in Washington DC. Nicholas holds a Bachelor of Economics degree from the Australian National University and a Master of Business Administration degree from London Business School. He was awarded the Cross of Solomon Islands in 2017.

Mary Rydberg - Community member

Mary Rydberg is a senior leader with experience in diverse administration and management roles within the health and community services sectors in Victoria. The roles have been within the State government, hospital, not-for-profit sector, and local government. I have extensive experience in strategic management, restructuring and business improvement with firsthand experience with culturally diverse and rural and remote organisations.

I am an experienced non-executive board member with a strong commitment to good governance. I have a particular interest and experience in advocating for the local communities and community members through my board roles and past contributions as a lay member to the PeterMac Human Research Ethics Committee.

Nina Ellis - Community member

Nina Ellis is a senior research management professional with extensive experience and expertise in the design, commissioning and strategic management of research and evaluation. Nina is passionate about well-designed and executed research, and the important intersect between research, insight, strategy and policy. She is particularly interested in health and vocational outcomes, customer experience and insight, behaviour change, and the strategies and policies that help people and organisations achieve outcomes and enhance quality of life.

Nina’s technical research expertise covers academic and commercial sectors, qualitative and quantitative methodologies, cross-sectional and longitudinal studies, monitoring and evaluation. She also has extensive experience in KPI development and tracking, program logic mapping, project management, research with general and vulnerable populations, data management, analysis and reporting, translation and strategy development.

Nina is currently taking a career break and studying a Master of Evaluation at Melbourne University. Nina’s most recent former role was Senior Manager, Health, Disability and Compensation Research with the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), Victoria, Australia where she led a small team of research professionals focused on strategic research investment and governance, and the translation of evidence to inform strategy and operational performance.

Rabbi Ralph Genende - Pastoral

Born in Zimbabwe, raised in South Africa, Rabbi Ralph Genende is a well-known and popular Modern Orthodox Rabbi. Ralph was Senior Rabbi to the Auckland, New Zealand Jewish community for ten years. He then became College Rabbi at Mount Scopus College, a member of its Executive Team and Rabbi of Beit Aharon congregation.

Currently, Rabbi Genende is Senior Rabbi of Caulfield Hebrew Congregation, one of Melbourne's largest congregations. He was a senior Reserve Chaplain in the South African Defence Force and is now Principal Rabbi to the Australian Defence Force, Member of the Religious Advisory Council to the Minister of Defence (RACS), board member of AIJAC (Australian Israel Jewish Affairs Council) and member of the Premier's Multifaith Advisory Group. He was President of JCMA (Jewish Christian Muslim Association) and a long-time executive member of the Rabbinical Association of Victoria.

He also oversees Yad BeYad premarital relationship program. He is a member of Swinburne University's Research Ethics Committee and is on the Glen Eira City Council's Committee responsible for its Reconciliation Action Plan for recognition and integration of our first peoples. Ralph has a passion for social justice and creating bridges between different cultures and faiths.

For him, the purpose of religion is to create a better society for all people and to engage with the critical issues facing Australian society. The role of the rabbi is, in his words, to challenge the comfortable and comfort the challenged. In 2018 Rabbi Genende was awarded an OAM for his services to multi-faith relations, and to the Jewish community of Victoria. Rabbi Genende is a trained counsellor with a Masters degree from Auckland University. He is married to Caron, a psychologist and they have three children and two grandchildren.

Associate Professor Daniel Halliday - Philosopher

Daniel Halliday teaches ethics and political philosophy at the University of Melbourne. His teaching and research focus on matters of justice in relation to the regulation of employment, education, taxation, and other aspects of contemporary market societies. In addition to various journal articles, he is the author of two books, The Inheritance of Wealth (2018), and The Ethics of Capitalism: An Introduction (2020), both with Oxford University Press. He is also part of an international group of researchers studying ethically significant issues emerging from the current pandemic, including the question of how much pharmaceutical companies should be allowed to charge for vaccines (and therapeutics), and the adequacy of current efforts to safeguard vaccine supply for low-income countries. He holds a PhD in philosophy from Stanford University.

Dr Marsh has practiced in health, safety, environment and community law for more than 10 years, variously as a private solicitor, government legal policy officer and volunteer lawyer. He also has experience in technical health and safety consulting and is a casual researcher with the University of NSW (Canberra). Dru sits on the boards of a number of non-government organisations, including a disability support services provider, and holds a PhD in Environmental Science.

Rena has a background in health, science, and law and currently practices as a lawyer for a large healthcare provider. She previously worked in private practice, providing trusted advice to a wide range of clients in health care, aged care, disability, education, and family violence. Her areas of practice include employment, privacy, technology, research, intellectual property, clinical governance, risk, and regulation. She has a degree in Bachelor of Biomedical Science / Laws (Honours) and studied health law at Sheffield University in the UK.

In addition to her expertise in health law, Rena has worked and volunteered in child safety and sexual violence prevention. She co-founded and was director of Empowered Together, a youth led not-for-profit which runs workshops in secondary schools on the primary prevention of sexual violence. She is the author of a textbook chapter on Respectful Relationships which is used in secondary schools across Australia. Rena previously served as the director of a health journalism not-for-profit. Her governance experience was strengthened as a recipient of the Women’s Board Leadership Program Scholarship and subsequent studies with the Australian Institute of Company Directions. As a young woman of colour, she is passionate about diversity and representation.

Dr Stefanie Vaccher - Researcher

Dr Stefanie Vaccher is a Senior Research Fellow at the Burnet Institute, where her work focuses on immunisation and health system strengthening. She brings a decade of experience in health research in Australia and across the Asia-Pacific region to the committee. As an epidemiologist, Stefanie works with local communities to respond to infectious disease outbreaks, uses data to drive evidence-based responses and shape policy, and enhance surveillance systems to detect and prevent future illness. Overall, Stefanie is driven to improve the health of vulnerable and marginalised populations through meaningful engagement and a comprehensive understanding of community needs. She has a PhD in Public Health from UNSW Sydney and has recently relocated to Australia after living in Papua New Guinea.

Associate Professor Chris Maylea - Researcher

Associate Professor Chris Maylea is a social worker, lawyer, and Associate Professor of law at La Trobe University. He has practice experience in mental health services as a social worker and manager. He also provides advice to government and policy reform bodies. Associate Professor Maylea’s work sits at the intersections of health, welfare and the law, and is underpinned by human rights and social justice. He is the author of over 70 peer-reviewed publications and commissioned reports, and is the author of 'Social work and the Law: a guide for ethical practice'. He has conducted evaluations in the following areas:

  • health and advocacy services
  • empirical research on interdisciplinary practice advance statements
  • gender-based violence in mental health inpatient units
  • child protection
  • elder abuse
  • doctrinal and human rights analyses.

His work uses codesign approaches, with a focus on promoting the voice of people who use health and welfare services. Associate Professor Maylea has extensive experience before the Victorian Mental Health Tribunal as a legal representative. He previously managed and evaluated mainstream Aboriginal and child and family community mental health services, rehabilitation units and assertive outreach and support services in regional areas. He has served as Chair and Deputy Chair of the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC).

Reviewed 23 February 2024


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