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





Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander






Knowledge and Expertise (Care and Counselling)















Dr Leslie Cannold - Chair

Dr Leslie Cannold is a medical ethicist and PhD-level researcher who has chaired and served on a range of Australian and international human research ethics committees and ethics reform projects.

A former research fellow at the University of Melbourne's Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics and member of the Consultative Council for Clinical Trial Research, Dr Cannold has spent the last decade working as a risk manager and administrative decision-maker in the health sector.

As the longstanding Chair of the Marie Stopes International Ethics in Research committee based in London, and a community member on multiple Victorian health practitioner boards, the Forensic Leave Panel and the Mental Health Tribunal, Dr Cannold combines an analytical mind and collaborative leadership style with passionate advocacy for the rights and safety of the vulnerable.

Dr Stella Koritsas - Researcher

Stella is a researcher with expertise in developmental disability, particularly in relation to inclusion, health, mental health, behaviour, and outcomes measurement. She is the Manager of Strategic Research at Scope, one of the largest disability service providers in Victoria, and has an honorary position at the University of Melbourne. In the past, she has held research positions in both University and community services settings.

Dr Karen Willis - Researcher

Karen Willis is a qualitative researcher and health sociologist. Her research focuses on health choices, health behaviours and the healthcare system. She is editor of Health Sociology Review and is an active user of Twitter (@kwillis19) to disseminate her research findings and contribute to current debates about health and healthcare.

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

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.

Kelsey McGowan - Knowledge and expertise

Kelsey McGowan is a social worker currently working as a Human Rights Advocate and Program Facilitator at Youth Disability Advocacy Service. She completed her Bachelor of Social Work (Honours)/Social Sciences (Psychology) at RMIT University and is now undertaking her Masters of Human Rights Law at The University of Melbourne. Kelsey is an Independent Board Director at UN Youth Australia where she is a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and is responsible for the oversight of the National Accessibility Panel.

Kelsey has volunteered with various not-for-profit community services including Youthlaw, Whitelion and Legal Action for Afghanistan. Prior to her current role at Youth Disability Advocacy Service, Kelsey worked in disability and mental health services, and as a youth worker in alternative education.

She has a special interest in mental health and trauma work and prioritises diverse voices and lived experience in leadership, problem-solving and decision making. Kelsey works from a trauma-informed, strengths-based and person-centred approach which is underpinned by respect for human dignity. She is passionate about human rights and social justice, and in particular their role in youth empowerment.

Adjunct Professor (practice) Nicholas Coppel - Layperson

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 - Layperson

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 - Layperson

Nina Ellis is a research management professional with extensive experience and expertise in the design, commissioning and strategic management of research and evaluation. Strong skills in governance, strategy, and senior leadership. Passionate about well-designed and executed research, and the important intersect between research, insight, strategy and policy. Particularly interested in research and evaluation focused on 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.

Respected amongst peers, colleagues and stakeholders, has led small teams of research and evaluation professionals, collaborating with academics and commercial research providers in government and consulting sectors. Effective translator of evidence and insight to inform strategy and support decision-making at senior levels. Builds strong and respectful networks and relationships.

Technical research experience and expertise covers academic and commercial sectors, qualitative and quantitative methodologies, cross-sectional and longitudinal studies, monitoring and evaluation activities, KPI development and tracking, program logic mapping, project management, research with general and vulnerable populations, data management and analysis, reporting and presenting, translation and strategy development, professional development and mentoring of staff. Currently taking a career break following 17 years of employment with the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), Victoria, Australia.

Most recent former role: Senior Manager, Health, Disability and Compensation Research. Previous roles at the TAC included Lead, Research Strategic Management; Manager, Road Safety Research and Evaluation; Senior Strategic Analyst; Manager, Client Research. Graduated First Class Honours (Journalism), Bachelor of Arts (History / Classical Studies), University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand,1996. Undertaken various technical research courses and leadership programs including graduate of the Monash University Accident Research Centre Road Safety Management Leadership Program 2017, Advanced Leadership Program for Women & Leadership Australia 2016, Alumni 2011/13 Leaders for Geelong Program, internal TAC leadership programs (2009-2018).

Dr Lowen Clarke - Layperson

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.

Pastor Bruce Bickerdike - Pastoral

Paster Bruce Bickerdike's initial University studies were in Sociology, History and Education. As a registered teacher (current) he had a range of teaching jobs including primary and secondary teaching in both inner-city Melbourne and Lajamanu Aboriginal Community in the Northern Territory. After studying Theology, he has been a Parish Minister in a number of Parishes since 1981.

Bruce worked for 5 years in the Pitjantjara Lands in South Australia and the Northern Territory training the Anangu Church leaders. He taught Theology and Ethics part-time at Tabor College (now Eastern College) for 10 years. He also taught Religious Studies and VCE Ethics at Luther College (Secondary College) in Croydon Hills.

Bruce was the Anglican Area Dean, giving pastoral support to Clergy in the Croydon Deanery, for 10 years and was appointed the Anglican Archdeacon of Maroondah in 2020, responsible for the Croydon and Hills Deaneries. He has been the Vicar of South Croydon Anglican Church since 2006 and since 2003 has been a member of the Eastern Heath HREC. Bruce is interested in encouraging ethically sound peer-reviewed research.

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 a premarital relationship program 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.

Meena is currently working as a Senior Manager within an in-house legal team. Meena's areas of legal practice include risk, regulatory, significant projects and litigation. Meena has extensive legal experience within private practice and government agencies. Before completing her law degree, Meena completed a Bachelor of Science and Honours in physiological science. Meena has served on a number of Boards and Committees, most recently on Seymour Health Board. Meena has been a strong advocate of the vulnerable and minority in the community through extensive volunteer and community participation. She has a particular interest in the health care sector. Meena's interests outside of work include walking, swimming, travelling and spending time with family and friends.

Caroline Nicolas - Executive Support Officer

Cazz Nicolas is a highly skilled professional in research, project management and coordination, with over 20 years of practical experience in health services, public health and social research. Her extensive experience in academic research and in local and state government has offered invaluable expertise in the preparation and submission of technical documentation, the collection, management and analysis of statistical data, the administration, management and coordination of local grants, ethics applications and community engagement.

Throughout her professional career, Cazz has specifically worked in areas of child public health, emergency medicine, nursing and various chronic health conditions. Currently employed as the Secretary Support Officer for the DH and DFFH HREC, Cazz strives to contribute to the smooth and effective operation of the ethics committee through the provision of administration, coordination and governance. In her spare time, Cazz is a freelance visual artist and children's book illustrator.

Dr Jan Browne - Executive Officer

Jan obtained her PhD in 2000. Jan is an experienced researcher and evaluator specialising in qualitative research methods, particularly analysis. The emphasis in Jan's research to date has been social justice - in public health and health care settings and, more recently, human services research and evaluation. In all her professional practice Jan has emphasised the need to explore, understand and be responsive to the perspectives and needs of research participants.

Jan has been the recipient of NHMRC, ARC and University grants and is widely published, including in some well-known journals. Since joining the Department of Health and Human Services (now Department of Health and Department of Families, Fairness and Housing), in 2011, Jan has managed, conducted and completed research with a diverse range of stakeholders, community members and participant groups.

Research cohorts have included young people and people who are living with: sexual health issues including male sex work; social disadvantage; disability; homelessness; chronic illness; bipolar disorder; dying; and podiatric care for Māori living with diabetes. Jan has recently taken up an appointment as the Executive Officer to the department Human Research Ethics Committee. Jan is passionate about listening to people and bringing individual voices together to tell a powerful collective story.

Reviewed 13 December 2021


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