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Australian Health Ethics Committee (AHEC)

One of the CEO’s functions under the NHMRC Act is to inquire into, issue guidelines on, and advise the community on ethical issues relating to health. This function includes the issuing of human research guidelines. Under Section 10(2) of the NHMRC Act, the Council may only provide human research guidelines to the CEO under Section 9(1) precisely as developed by AHEC.

Functions

The functions of AHEC, as set out in Section 35(3) of the NHMRC Act, are:

  • to advise the Council on the ethical issues relating to health; and
  • to develop and give the Council human research guidelines under subsection 10(2) of the NHMRC Act; and
  • any other functions conferred on the Committee in writing by the Minister after consulting the CEO; and
  • any other functions conferred on the Committee by the NHMRC Act, the regulations or any other law.

In the course of its activities, AHEC consults extensively with individuals, community organisations, health professionals and governments, and undertakes formal public consultation when developing guidelines. AHEC may also provide advice on international developments in health ethics issues.

Membership

AHEC's composition is specified in the NHMRC Act. Members draw on expertise in philosophy, the ethics of medical research, public health and social science research, clinical medical practice and nursing, disability, law, religion and health consumer issues.

Under Section 36(2) of the NHMRC Act, there must be included among members of AHEC individuals who collectively have membership of all the other Principal Committees.

There are 17 members of AHEC for the 2012-15 triennium.

Professor Ian Olver AM, Chair
Dr Gary Allen
Professor Vicki Anderson
Professor Samar Aoun
Professor Susan Dodds
Associate Professor Ian Kerridge
Dr Tammy Kimpton
Rabbi Aviva Kipen
Revd Kevin McGovern
Professor John McGrath AM
Dr Eleanor Milligan
Professor Robin Mortimer AO
Ms Kay Oke
Professor Margaret Otlowski
Professor Debra Rickwood
Professor Wendy Rogers
Professor Loane Skene

Projects and activities

AHEC establishes working committees for selected projects, under Section 39 of the National Health and Medical Research Act 1992. AHEC undertakes a rolling review of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research and other projects to address contemporary issues in health and medical research. Click here for more information about guideline development.

AHEC is currently undertaking work in the following areas:

  • Rolling review of the National Statement.  A survey was recently conducted to inform the future development of the document
  • A review of Part B of the Ethical Guidelines on the use of Assisted Reproductive Technology in Clinical Practice and Research
  • Determining the type of ethical guidance required for the return of results for genetic/genomic research.
  • Considering the broader application of the National Statement to human research.
  • Developing ethical guidelines for eligibility criteria and allocation protocols for organ transplantation from deceased donors

Recently completed work:

Contact AHEC

Postal address Health and Research Ethics Section
NHMRC
GPO Box 1421
Canberra ACT 2601
Email address ethics@nhmrc.gov.au

 

Page reviewed: 26 March, 2014