Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC)

The University of Sydney HREC was established in 1990. There are now two Committees to more efficiently handle the large number of new applications received.

Both Committees operate under the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in accordance with the NHMRC Act, 1992 (Cth).

Terms of reference

The University of Sydney’s HRECs have five primary objectives:

  1. Protect the mental and physical welfare, rights, dignity and safety of participants of research involving humans, their data or human tissue.
  2. Promote Ethical standards of research.
  3. Facilitate ethical research through efficient and effective review processes, in accordance with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in accordance with the NHMRC Act, 1992 (Cth).
  4. Review research applications with the intention of identifying potential safety concerns for University of Sydney staff and student researchers while conducting research.
  5. Protect the University’s reputation as a place of ethical research by reviewing research undertaken by its employees, affiliates and students to promote compliance with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in accordance with the NHMRC Act, 1992 (Cth). and associated legislations and guidelines.

Membership

The membership of the Committee is comprised of the mandatory members required by the National Statement and additional members with expertise relevant to the nature of research undertaken at the University of Sydney. Under the National Statement the minimum membership of an HREC is eight members including:

  • a chair
  • at least two members who are lay people, one man and one woman, who have no affiliation with the institution or organisation, are not currently involved in medical, scientific, academic or legal work, and who are preferably from the community in which the institution or organisation is located
  • at least two members with knowledge of, and current experience in, the areas of research that are regularly considered by the HREC (eg, health, medical, psychological, epidemiological) as appropriate
  • at least one member with knowledge of, and current experience in, the professional care, counselling or treatment of people (eg. a medical practitioner, clinical psychologist, social worker, nurse) as appropriate
  • at least one member who is a minister of religion, or a person who performs a pastoral role in a community such as an Aboriginal elder
  • at least one member who is a lawyer

The Committee should ideally consist of equal numbers of men and women.

(From Section 5.1 of the National Statement, 2007, pp. 80-81)

HREC Executive

The HREC Executive meets every 2 weeks. The Executive has been established to:

  • streamline the human ethics process and increase the efficiency of the HRECs.
  • reduce workload on the HREC thus allowing additional time for discussion of ethical considerations, invitations to researchers and continuing education.

The Executive Committee considers the following matters:

  • Modifications to approved protocols

All decisions by the Executive are reported to the full HREC at the next meeting.