Key messages

  • Ethical review is a formal process that is followed to ensure health and medical research proposals conform with ethical standards.
  • Multi-site research projects in Victoria are required to have one ethical and scientific review.
  • All health and medical research projects require both ethical approval and research governance/site specific assessment (SSA) authorisation.
  • The Consultative Council for Clinical Trial Research has accredited human research ethics committees from a number of Victorian metropolitan hospitals to provide ethical review for multi-site research projects.

Ethical review is a formal process that is followed to ensure patient care or medical research proposals conform with ethical standards.

Multi-site health and medical research projects in Victoria are required to have one ethical and scientific review conducted by a human research ethics committee (HREC). The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) certifies each HREC. Each site involved with the health and medical research project must conduct its own research governance authorisation before the project can commence; the site specific assessment (SSA) form is used to address research governance.

Scope of the streamlined ethical review system

Ethical and scientific review of multi-site research projects applies to any form of human research, as defined in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) (or any replacement of that document published by the NHMRC).

An application must be made to a human research ethics committee for the purpose of conducting research at a public health organisation. This includes low and negligible risk review.

All medical research projects require both ethical approval and research governance/SSA authorisation. Authorisation must occur at all organisations conducting health and medical research before the research can begin there.

Applications are made via the ERM. Note that the ethics application must be created before accessing the research governance SSA form.

Participating health organisations

Victorian public health organisations have a formal agreement with the Department of Health & Human Services regarding their participation in the streamlined ethical review system. Some private health services will accept the ethical review decisions of the HRECs.

Accredited reviewing HRECs

The Consultative Council for Clinical Trial Research has accredited the following Victorian human research ethics committees to provide ethical review for multi-site research projects:

  • Alfred Health
  • Austin Health
  • Melbourne Health
  • Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
  • The Royal Children’s Hospital
  • Monash Health
  • St Vincent’s Hospital (Melbourne).