Committees advising NHMRC on the review

Dietary Guidelines Expert Committee

Key points

  • a committee has been appointed to advise NHMRC on the evidence to be considered and the final recommendations in the revision of the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines
  • the process to appoint members to the committee involved many steps, including scrutiny by an independent group of experts, the Dietary Guidelines Governance Committee
  • the Dietary Guidelines Expert Committee represents a wide range of expertise to ensure the evidence and the final recommendations are accurate and appropriate for Australians.

How did NHMRC appoint this committee?

Candidates for the Expert Committee were identified through two pathways:

  • the members of NHMRC Council were invited to suggest up to three suitable experts to be considered for the Expert Committee. Individuals suggested by NHMRC Council were contacted and invited to submit an expression of interest, and
  • NHMRC invited expressions of interest from all interested stakeholders to be considered for the Expert Committee.

Applications received from both pathways underwent the following process:

  1. NHMRC reviewed all applications to ensure the essential selection criteria were met
  2. applicants were then required to provide additional information to NHMRC on their interests. This information was based on the types of interest relevant to the task as advised by the Dietary Guidelines Governance Committee
  3. the Dietary Guidelines Governance Committee assessed the declared interests for actual or perceived conflicts of interest in accordance with the NHMRC Policy on the Disclosure of Interests Requirements for Prospective and Appointed NHMRC Committee Members (2019)
  4. candidates with interests that met the Disclosures policy were shortlisted and a balance of expertise, career stage and gender considered
  5. NHMRC presented a final shortlist of candidates to the NHMRC Chief Executive Officer for consideration and subsequent appointment.

The members of the Expert Committee were appointed based on their expertise in areas such as evidence translation, epidemiology, research methodology, food and health relationships and nutrition communication. The Expert Committee includes members with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander health and consumer behaviours expertise.

What is the role of this committee?

NHMRC must follow the process to develop guidelines set out in the National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992.

A multidisciplinary committee composed of an appropriate mix of subject matter experts advises on the development of guidelines.

The Dietary Guidelines Expert Committee will focus on the evidence and advise NHMRC on:

  • the priority topics for review
  • suitable research questions to guide the review of the evidence
  • the quality of the evidence reviews
  • draft recommendations in the revised Guidelines
  • comments received from public consultation.

The development of consumer communication tools and implementation plans are outside the scope of the Expert Committee. NHMRC will consult with consumers, health professionals, policy makers, educators and industry later in the review process to ensure the revised guidelines are easy to understand and adopt and are well communicated to Australia’s diverse communities.

The Terms of Reference for the Dietary Guidelines Expert Committee are available to download at the bottom of this page.

The membership of the Dietary Guidelines Expert Committee, along with a summary of member's expertise is available to download at the bottom of this page.

The Expression of Interest issued in November 2020 to be considered for membership of the Expert Committee is available to download at the bottom of this page.

The Disclosures of Interest provided to NHMRC by members prior to appointment will be published on the NHMRC website after the first committee meeting.

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Dietary Guidelines Governance Committee

Key points

  • NHMRC is committed to minimising actual or perceived conflicts of interest in the review of the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines
  • a committee of independent experts has been appointed to consider possible conflicts of interest and potential bias across the review process
  • NHMRC will continue to take the advice of the Dietary Guidelines Governance Committee to ensure the revised Guidelines are considered trustworthy.

NHMRC has listened to the concerns of our stakeholders. Our stakeholders want this review to be transparent and free from bias. In response to these concerns, NHMRC has established the Dietary Guidelines Governance Committee. The Governance Committee will provide a clear and consistent approach to managing potential bias and actual or perceived conflicts of interest throughout the review of the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines. This is part of NHMRC’s commitment to best practice and a transparent approach to this work.

The role of the Governance Committee is to:

  • review the declared interests of potential members of the Dietary Guidelines Expert Committee to determine any potential, perceived or actual conflict of interest related to the work, aligning with NHMRC's Disclosure of Interests Requirements for Prospective and Appointed NHMRC Committee Members (2019)
  • develop management strategies for actual or perceived conflicts of interest for potential members of the Expert Committee and contracted evidence reviewers
  • develop strategies to manage potential bias related to actual or perceived conflicts of interest in the evidence review, particularly with respect to research funding, and
  • provide ongoing support and advice to NHMRC and the Expert Committee in relation to managing actual or perceived conflicts of interest.

Members of the Governance Committee represent a wide range of expertise: conflicts of interest management, guideline development and review processes, research methodology, health ethics and stakeholder influence on health research and policy.

The full Terms of Reference and member details are available at the bottom of this page.

The advice of the Dietary Guidelines Governance Committee

Specific advice on disclosures of interest is necessary to ensure that individuals appointed to the Expert Committee and external contractors appointed to conduct evidence evaluations do not hold interests that present a significant risk to the review. The Governance Committee advised NHMRC on the process to assess the declared interests of individuals involved with the review of the Guidelines.

The advice of the Governance Committee included:

  • the types of interests that are relevant to the work of the Expert Committee/external contractors and therefore require disclosing. This includes a minimum timeframe of five (5) years for which the interest should be declared
  • the detail members/external contractors are required to provide for each interest such as the timeframe, source of funding, theme of activity
  • the use of a risk matrix to assess the level of perceived risk associated with each applicant’s disclosures 
  • appointment of a Chair and Vice Chair with low risk of perceived or actual conflicts of interest
  • a good faith effort to recommend applicants for appointment to the Expert Committee with minimal actual or perceived conflicts of interest.

The Governance Committee designed a Disclosures of interest form specific to the work of the review. 

This advice applies to:

  • Expert Committee applicants
  • external contractors commissioned to conduct evidence or methodological reviews
  • appointed members and external contractors when reviewing their disclosures of interest throughout the review process. This advice will support individuals to identify additional interests which should be disclosed or further information provided.

The Terms of reference for the Dietary Guidelines Governance Committee are available to download.

The Membership and summary of member's expertise and interests is available to download.