Its main responsibility is to advise on the ethical acceptability or otherwise of current or proposed health- and welfare-related activities of the AIHW, or of bodies with which we collaborate or interact. Responsibilities of the Committee are also described in the principles and standards established by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) such as the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research 2018.
The Committee is recognised by the NHMRC as a properly constituted Human Research Ethics Committee as outlined in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (National Statement).
The Committee plays a key role in the AIHW’s data governance and privacy arrangements. Detailed information on the Committee’s role is provided in our Data Governance Framework.
Complaints about researchers, the conduct of research or the conduct of the AIHW Ethics Committee can be addressed to the Ethics Committee Secretary – a role currently undertaken by the Unit Head, Ethics Privacy and Legal. Complaints will be handled promptly and sensitively, in accordance with Chapter 5.6 of the National Statement.
In making a complaint it is useful to provide all relevant information so that an initial assessment of the complaint can be made. While complaints can be lodged by a third party or on behalf of an anonymous person these complaints will be less easy to assess, investigate and resolve.
As stated in Chapter 5.6 of the National Statement a final decision to reject an ethics application cannot be appealed.
As discussed in the NHMRC Guide to Managing and Investigating Potential Breaches of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, there may be more than one process for managing a complaint depending on the type of concern. For example, conduct that may amount to a breach of the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct may be handled under other prevailing organisational policies instead of the NHMRC mechanism. As a further example, complaints about a potential data or privacy breach may be handled through established internal procedures, or through the Australian Privacy Commissioner.