Human Research Ethics Committee (HRECs) play a central role in the Australian system of ethical oversight of research involving humans. HRECs review research proposals involving human participants to ensure that they are ethically acceptable and in accordance with relevant standards and guidelines.
There are more than 200 HRECs in institutions and organisations across Australia. Many other countries have similar systems.
In undertaking this role, HRECs are guided by relevant standards. Standards include those in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (the National Statement) issued by NHMRC.
The National Statement sets out the requirements for the composition of an HREC and the relevant ethical principles and values by which research should be designed and conducted and to which HRECs should refer when reviewing research proposals. It also identifies requirements and responsibilities for:
- Institutions/organisations in establishing HRECs
- researchers in submitting research proposals to HRECs
- HRECs in considering and reaching decisions regarding these proposals and in monitoring the conduct of approved research.
In some circumstances HRECs charge fees for considering research application.
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Human Research Ethics Committees
- List of HRECs registered with NHMRC (PDF, 199KB) - updated 1 March 2018
- Registering or closing an HREC
- HREC Forms
- HREC Annual Reporting to NHMRC
- The role of Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs) in health privacy
- National Certification Scheme