The Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) reports on its activities to the Academic Board of the University of the Sunshine Coast, through its Research Committee which is chaired by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research). The Committee also reports to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
The minimum membership of the HREC is eight, with equal members of men and women. The Committee comprises:
- A Chairperson, who is a member of the staff of the University, but whose other responsibilities will not impair the Human Research Ethics Committee’s capacity to carry out its obligations under the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research
- At least two laypersons, at least one of each gender, preferably from the local community, with no affiliation with the institution, who are not currently involved in medical, scientific, legal or academic work
- At least two persons with knowledge of and experience in areas of human research regularly considered by the committee
- At least one person with knowledge of and current experience in professional care, counselling or treatment of people
- At least one person who performs a pastoral care role such as a minister of religion or similar
- At least one person who is a lawyer
All members are appointed by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research).
In making appointments to the Committee, the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) will ensure that the membership includes one full-time member of the teaching and research staff from each faculty of the University.
Terms of Office
The term of office of a newly appointed member will be one year in the first instance, with a subsequent appointment for three years, and the option of reappointment for subsequent terms.
Terms of Reference
In relation to research involving human participants, as defined in the Human Research Ethics Guidelines of the University and conducted by staff or students of the University of the Sunshine Coast, the Committee performs the following functions:
- review written proposals relevant to the involvement of humans in research using the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research as the standard for that review, whenever the ethical risks are assessed as greater than low as defined in the National Statement;
- following such review, approve or require amendment of, or reject such proposals;
- monitor the conduct of approved research which involves humans as research participants;
- examine and comment on all institutional plans and policies, which may affect the welfare and rights of human participants in research involving humans as participants;
- recommend to Academic Board any measures needed to ensure that the requirements and standards of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research as published from time to time, the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, and the University of the Sunshine Coast Human Research Ethics – Governing Policy are met and maintained;
- perform all other relevant duties required by the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research, the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research and by relevant Commonwealth and Queensland legislation;
- report annually to the NHMRC information as required in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research;
- follow the University's established mechanisms for receiving and promptly handling complaints or concerns about the conduct of an approved research project involving use of humans as participant; and nominate, from time to time, a person to whom complaints from research participants, researchers or others may be made initially.
Where there is less than full attendance at a meeting, the Chairperson must be satisfied, before a decision is reached, that all members of the Committee have received all papers and have had an opportunity to contribute their views, and that these have been recorded and considered. The minimum number of attendees at any Human Research Ethics Committee meeting shall be no less than three.
The Committee will strive to make its decisions by consensus, but where consensus is not achieved then assent by two-thirds of the members of the Committee is required to approve applications.
Before any decision is reached on a proposal involving human participants in research (except proposals classed as low or negligible risk and suitable for expedited review), all members must have received all papers and have had an opportunity to contribute views which have been recorded and considered.
Attendance at Meetings
The Committee may invite the attendance and (non-voting) participation at its meetings of such persons who, by reason of their special expertise or experience, can assist the Committee's deliberations on any particular matter or matters.
Frequency of Meetings
The Committee shall determine the frequency of its meetings.