Human Research Ethics Committee Annual Report 2014–15

The ACT Health Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) continues its work of reviewing human research proposals to ensure they meet the ethical standards set out in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007), which is jointly developed by the:

  • National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)

  • Australian Research Council

  • Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee.

During 2014–15, HREC has been an active contributor to the NHMRC consultation process on developing national reforms in research ethics administration. 

The Research Ethics and Governance Senior Manager, August Marchesi, has continued to represent HREC and ACT Health on the Jurisdictional Working Group that is managing the National Mutual Acceptance (NMA) of ethical and scientific review for multi-centre clinical trials.

The Clinical Trials Subcommittee (CTSC) and the Social Research Subcommittee (SRSC) have continued to provide HREC with expert advice on the merit and integrity of research proposals. The Low Risk Subcommittee (LRSC) reviews and takes decisions on more than two-thirds of all proposals received.

HREC and its subcommittees draw on the expertise available in:

  • ACT Health

  • the wider ACT research community

  • more broadly, the ACT community.

In June 2015 the HREC comprised:

  • 11 external members external

  • eight internal ACT Health members.

I would like to thank the members of HREC and its subcommittees for their hard work and dedication to the enterprise of ethical review. On behalf of the committee, thanks is given the Secretariat staff, August Marchesi, Matthew Wafer and Gillian Fox, for their tireless work in keeping the ACT Health HREC and its processes operating at the highest standards.

 

Louise Morauta PSM PhD

Chair

Membership of the Human Research Ethics committee

Table 66 identifies membership of the HREC.

Table 66: HREC membership

Name of member

Position

Dr Louise Morauta

Chair

A/Professor Peter Hickman

Deputy Chair (until July 2014)

Current Researcher (Chemical Pathology) (from August 2014 until June 2015)

A/Professor Frank van Haren

Deputy Chair (from August 2014)

Current Researcher (Intensive Care) (until July 2014)

Professor Walter Abhayaratna

Current researcher (Cardiology)

Ms Kimberley Baillie

Lawyer member (alternate)

Ms Margaret Blood

Lay member

Professor Doug Boer

Member providing professional care

Dr Bianca Calabria

Current researcher (Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander health) (from April 2015)

Professor Paul Craft

Current researcher (Oncology) (from August 2014)

A/Professor Marian Currie

Current researcher (Nursing and midwifery) (until Feb 2015)

Professor Geoff Farrell

Current researcher (Hepatology)

Rev Doug Hutchinson

Member providing pastoral care

Ms Julie Kussy

Registered nurse (until March 2015)

Dr David Larkin

Current researcher (Nursing and midwifery) (from March 2015)

Dr Ray Lovett

Current researcher (Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander health) (until March 2015)

Professor Imogen Mitchell

Current researcher (Intensive care) (from January 2015)

Mr John Morrissey

Lawyer member (alternate)

Dr Anna Olsen

Current researcher (Social Science) (from August 2014)

Dr Louise Stone

Current researcher (Social Science) (from May 2015)

A/Professor Dipti Talaulikar

Current researcher (Haematology)

Ms Lyn Todd

Pharmacist

Mr Luke Williamson

Lay member

Meetings of the Ethics Committee and its subcommittees

The committee met 11 times from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015. Meetings are held monthly. Subcommittee meeting details are as follows:

  • The Clinical Trials Subcommittee (CTSC), under the chairmanship of Professor Walter Abhayaratna, met nine times during the year. In each instance recommendations were made to the subsequent HREC meeting.

  • The Social Research Subcommittee (SRSC), under the chairmanship of Dr Jason Mazonov, met 10 times during the year. Again, in each instance recommendations were made to the subsequent HREC meeting.

  • The Low Risk Subcommittee (LRSC), under the chairmanship of Dr Louise Morauta, met 24 times during the year. The LRSC meets on a fortnightly cycle to enable a faster decision-making process for projects’ in which the only foreseeable risk for participants is one of discomfort’ (NHMRC National Statement, p 16).

Key points arising

Key developments during the 2014–15 year were:

  • Achieving a three-year recertification by the NHMRC to maintain the HRECs status as one of only 20 per cent of committees certified for single ethical and scientific review of multi-centre health and medical research projects.

  • Signing agreements with the University of Canberra and Australian National University HRECs for streamlined ethical review processes between institutions.

  • Adding a third member to the Secretariat team, which is fully funded from HREC fee-for-service activities.

  • Introducing a new system of compliance monitoring to improve compliance with HREC and NHMRC requirements.

  • Exploring information technology solutions with the New South Wales (NSW) Ministry of Health to enable the ACT HREC to join the NMA and reduce duplication of ethical and scientific review across the public sector.