Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs) provide the scientific and ethical review of proposed human research projects, taking into consideration:
Scientific and ethical approval must be obtained and form part of the governance approval, prior to a request for authorisation to the chief executive or delegate. Ethics Executive Officers (EEOs) provide administrative support to the HREC.
All human research conducted in WA Health must undergo ethical and scientific review, approval and monitoring by a HREC registered with the National Health and Medical Research Council's (NHMRC's) Australian Health Ethics Committee (AHEC) and operating in accordance with the NHMRC National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007.
In addition investigators conducting:
The WA Health Research Governance Framework provides further information on WA Health ethical and governance review processes.
Multi-centre Research provides further information on the two Single Ethical Review schemes including the WA Health Single Ethical Review and National Mutual Acceptance (NMA).
Information on specific ethical and scientific review processes at each health service provider (HSP) can be obtained from the relevant site or HSP. Find contacts for WA Health HRECs.
Find research ethics forms (below) or research governance forms.
Research involving individuals who lack decision-making capacity presents a number of ethical and legal challenges for researchers and HRECs. Specific information relevant to WA is available on the RGS Help WA Specific Information Public Pages.
These challenges are compounded for multi-jurisdictional studies as each jurisdiction has different requirements. The NHMRC has produced a Report on the relevant State, Territory and National laws that relate to consent and guardianship requirements for human research, including clinical trials. A series of Australian guides/checklists to consent and guardianship laws are available for use by HRECs and researchers.
The NHMRC Guide to WA Laws Factsheet provides information for WA HRECs and researchers. The Factsheet does not constitute legal advice and researchers and institutions in particular should discuss their specific proposal with their own legal advisors.
For information on the difference between quality improvement (QI) and research, and the requirements for QI ethical review refer to the NHMRC Ethical Considerations in Quality Assurance and Evaluation Activities 2014.
The following ethics application forms are available for electronic completion in RGS:
Find a sample of all questions in the WASM and WAHEAF Sample Forms.
For applications to WA HRECs not using RGS (i.e. external to WA Health) and not involved in NMA, a hard copy of the WASM is available on request from RGS Support.
The NHMRC's Human Research Ethics Application (HREA) is not available electronically in RGS. If the ethical review is by a WA Health HREC, the HREA must be completed via the NHMRC HREA website and uploaded to RGS as a pdf supporting document. There is no requirement to attach supporting documents to the HREA (on the NHMRC website) as they should be uploaded separately into RGS. If ethical review is by a NMA non-WA Health HREC, the HREA should be completed via Online Forms. Please ensure you list the sites involved in the research project in the HREA form.
Find information on which ethics application forms to complete in the WA Health Research Authorisation Monitoring Form Guidelines.
WA Health Single Ethical Review scheme
For intra-jurisdictional (within WA) single-centre or multi-centre research either the WAHEAF or the HREA accompanied by the WASM can be used for an ethics application.
Note: the WAHEAF is shorter than the HREA and contains the same WASM questions.
National Mutual Acceptance (NMA) scheme
For NMA inter-jurisdictional (outside WA) multi-centre research the HREA and WASM must be used (not the WAHEAF). Refer to Multi-centre Research for additional information on forms.
The NEAF will no longer be accepted by WA Health's HRECs (except in special circumstances if it has originated from 'Online Forms', check with the WA Health HREC for acceptability). Online Forms are changing from the NEAF to HREA in August 2017.
For ethical review by WA Health HREC(s): the WASM and HREA (pdf) or WAHEAF and supporting documents must be submitted via the RGS.
For ethical review by non-WA Health HRECs participating in the NMA: the WASM must be completed within RGS, printed and submitted via Online Forms to the reviewing HREC. Refer to Multi-centre Research for additional information on the submission process for NMA forms.
The following ethics monitoring forms are available for completion and submission to WA Health HRECs, to amend an authorised research project and meet the requirements of research monitoring. At this time, these forms should be submitted directly to the HREC, not via RGS:
Find information on ethics monitoring requirements in the NMA Monitoring and Reporting Tables July 2017 (PDF 156KB), these are based on the revised NHMRC's Safety monitoring and reporting in clinical trials involving therapeutic goods November 2016.
Find information on ethics monitoring forms in the WA Health Research Authorisation Monitoring Form Guidelines.
There is now a complaints module within RGS. If you wish to lodge a complaint about a project or a WA Health ethics committee please complete this form within RGS. RGS users can complete and submit a complaint form on behalf of research participants who may or may not wish to remain anonymous.
Ethics Supporting Documents
The following ethics supporting documents are available from the RGS as document templates. These can be completed externally and uploaded to the RGS as supporting documents:
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