Department of Health Human Research Ethics

Human Research Ethics (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.
Any research involving humans, or requiring access to personal information, requires approval from a Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) that is registered with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Page last updated: 24 May 2019

National Health and Medical Research Council

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) issues advice on ethical issues relating to health and develops guidelines for the conduct of research involving humans and animal research. There are more than 200 HRECs in institutions and organisations across Australia.

The NHMRC issues the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (the National Statement) that 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.

Department of Health Human Research Ethics Committee

The Department is committed to the highest quality and ethical conduct of research in accordance with the National Statement. Following a recent review and consistent with contemporary Departmental data governance arrangements, the Department is transitioning to new arrangements for provision of ethical review to ensure the continuity of high quality research. Researchers, when applicable, now need to obtain ethics approval from an external NHMRC registered HREC. The Departmental HREC is no longer accepting new HREC applications.

The Department is currently commencing a process to transition all active projects to alternate NHMRC registered HRECs in consultation with affected researchers.

Researchers looking for a HREC to approve a human research project, to seek ethics advice or to clarify whether ethics approval is needed for a specific research project, should contact an alternate registered HREC listed on the NHMRC HREC web page.

The Department’s data access and release policy recognises ethical reviews from external NHMRC registered HRECs with relevant expertise where research requires access to or linkage of Departmental data collections. Researchers seeking access to Health data should contact a Commonwealth Accredited Integrating Authority or alternatively the Department of Human Services ( The Department will consider direct requests for health data (to where all other possible providers have been approached.