Learn more about Swinburne’s compliance with ethical requirements for research involving human research.
The minimum standards required for any research conducted with or about humans — including their data, their information or their tissue — is provided by the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007 (updated 2018). It is the responsibility of all researchers and research offices to ensure that they are consulting the current version of this National Statement when developing research proposals, making submissions for ethics review and undertaking ethic reviews.
Researchers must examine the effect of their research on all participants — whether a person is a knowing participant or not — as well as any adverse effect the research may have on the lives of those who may be connected with, but not directly participating in, the research.
Expectations for Swinburne researchers conducting research involving humans:
- Be familiar with relevant Swinburne policies and procedures that concern human research activity.
- Be familiar with applicable sections and details in the National Statement and any applicable legislation or other guidelines.
- Plan for their research activity by including realistic timeframes as well as methods and outcomes that are academically, professionally and ethically sound.
- If applicable, use the appropriate form(s) and apply for prior ethical review from the designated ethical review body.
- Only commence human research activity after ethics clearance has been expressly issued and only do so in full compliance with the terms of the clearance.
- Apply for prior clearance for proposed amendments to current approved protocols.
- If there’s an emergency that requires research protocols to be amended quickly, such as to ensure the safety of those involved, notify the Swinburne University Human Research Ethics Committee and/or other relevant people as soon as possible.
- At a minimum, report annually and at the conclusion (or cessation) of any approved human research activity.
Human research requiring ethical review
Find out what research requires ethical review and what level of review is required, or whether your research is exempt from needing a review.
How to apply for ethical review
Find out more about submitting a human ethics application including the submission deadlines.
Monitoring, reporting and changes after approval
Find out how to request any modifications or changes to your approved application as well as the ongoing reporting requirements.
Frequently asked questions
Have questions about the ethical requirements surrounding human research? Find your answer here.
If you’re a Swinburne researcher, your first point of contact for seeking advice on human research ethics should be the relevant adviser.
Research Ethics Advisors (REAs) are members of Swinburne’s Human Research Ethics Sub-committees and are available to advise on research ethics queries from staff and students.. The role of REAs is not to write your ethics application, but to provide support by:
- advising on whether your research requires ethics review and what level of review is needed (ie. SUHREC or SHESC);
- highlighting discipline-specific ethical issues in research activities;
- assisting with the design of your research to ensure compliance with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research;
- conducting a pre-review of draft ethics applications prior to submission (note: this is different to peer-review);
- assisting with response to committee feedback post-review;
- providing general advice on ethics processes at Swinburne
Please be respectful of the Advisors’ other commitments by allowing sufficient time for them to consider and respond to your queries.
For student projects, assistance from a Research Ethics Advisor should be done in conjunction with your supervisor.
The following information provides contact details for REAs and a description of their research areas.
||Research ethics adviser
|Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Science
||Professor Bee Theng Lau
|Associate Professor Hwang Siaw San
|Dr Irine Runnie Henry Ginjom
|Faculty of Business, Design and Arts
||Dr Bertha Chin
|Dr Marc Arul Weissmann
|School of Foundation Studies
||Mr James Loi Chun Han
Further resources and guidelines
- Consent in Human Research fact sheet [PDF 3.96MB]
- Recruitment in Human Research fact sheet [PDF 2.7MB]
- Program vs. Project Studies fact sheet [PDF 421KB]
- Guide to Informed Consent Instruments [DOCX 46KB]
- Guide to Informed Consent Instruments (Sarawak) [DOCX 41KB]
The Swinburne University Human Research Ethics Committee (SUHREC) reviews human research proposals to ensure that they accord with the National Statement and are ethically acceptable before giving approval for the project’s commencement. Each SUHREC meeting is constituted and operated in accordance with the provisions of the National Statement.
SUHREC terms of reference
||Professor Paula Swatman|
Ms Jen Lawrie-Smith
Mr Iain Messer
Ms Lesley Milburn
Mr Lindsay Stodden
Ms Catherine Cross
Dr Charmaine Gittleson
Dr Julie Stevens
Dr Karen Wayne
Rev. Morag Thorne
Rabbi Dr Avi Bart
Dr Mitchell Adams
Mr Paul Natoli
Mr Dominic Brown
Dr César Albarrán-Torres
Dr Won Sun Chen
Dr Sharon Grant
Professor Maja Nedeljkovic
Professor Sonja Pedell
Dr Paul Scifleet
Dr Julian Vieceli
Dr Adrian Pranata
Dr Stella Koritsas
Dr Sean Carruthers
Apply for committee membership
If you’re interested in becoming a member of the Swinburne University Human Research Ethics Committee (SUHREC), please download these two documents:
Information for SUHREC applicants [DOCX 46KB]
Application form for SUHREC membership [DOCX 40KB]
Apply for sub-committee membership
The SUHREC sub-committees are known as SHESC (Swinburne Human Ethics Sub-Committee). Consistent with the National Statement, the sub-committees review low-risk research involving people or their data or tissue.
If you’re a current Swinburne researcher and are interested in becoming a member of a SUHREC sub-committee, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Swinburne researchers accessing, collecting, retaining, using or disclosing data pertaining to individuals will in some way be covered by various Commonwealth or Victorian legislation or guidelines on privacy of people or their information. The terms “personal information”, “health information” and “sensitive information” have particular definitions in the legislation and associated Principles. Clear language and meaning is required regarding “identifiable”, “re-identifiable”, "potentially identifiable", “non-identifiable” or “de-identified” information or data. For example: “de-identified” can mean temporary removal of names and substitution with codes that permit later rematching of data. Researchers should also take care with “anonymity” (literally no name) and “confidentiality” (the information collected or used may not use names but may still permit someone’s identity to be worked out). When planning their research, researchers should give due consideration both to the legal and ethical issues involved.
Some guidance is provided within Swinburne’s Privacy Guidelines and Standards. Further applicable legislation or standards depends on where the information is being collected or held — such as by a Commonwealth agency, a Victorian Public Sector Organisation, a Health Service Provider or a Private Sector body — and in what form.
Australian privacy law:
- Office of the Australian Information Commissioner website
- Guidelines approved under section 95 of the Privacy Act 1988 (March 2014)
- Guidelines under section 95A of the Privacy Act 1988 (March 2014)
Victorian privacy law:
For any research involving clinical trials or innovative therapy or intervention, see Chapter 3.1 of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct In Human Research 2007 (Updated 2018).
Also refer to the following:
- World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki — Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects
- Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) website information on clinical trials, including the ICH Guideline for Good Clinical Practice and Australian Clinical Trial Handbook
- Australian Clinical Trials Website for useful information sponsored by the Australian Government and the National Health and Medical Research Council that includes information on 'Safety monitoring and reporting in clinical trials [PDF 523KB].
Clinical trials registration (Australia or international)
Swinburne researchers are obliged to register all clinical trials with a recognised clinical trials registry. Registration needs to occur prior to commencement of a trial. The leading registry in Australia is the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR).
To undertake research in schools, researchers have to first establish what prior authority is required to approach or involve schools. In the case of Victorian Government schools, prior ‘in principle’ Departmental approval is required before principals can be approached to involve any staff or students. A similar arrangement of prior approval from the Director of the Catholic Education Office is required for Melbourne Catholic Diocesan schools.
Note: There are some exceptions to procedures for government and Catholic schools, such as when a student researcher is also a staff member of a particular school. However, the required proper procedure should be established early when planning to undertake research in schools.
In the case of independent schools, researchers can usually seek approval in the first instance from the head of school.
Proposals for research involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be developed in respectful consultation with leaders and/or members of the communities concerned and in consultation with the applicable guidelines:
- Health and other research: National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) Updated 2018 (especially Chapter 4.7)
- NHMRC health research: Ethical conduct in research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and communities: Guidelines for researchers and stakeholders (2018)
- Social and Cultural Research: AIATSIS Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies
- Australia Council for the Arts: Indigenous Cultural Protocols for Producing Indigenous Music; Writing; Visual Arts, Media Arts; and Performing Arts (2007)
Please contact the Human Research Ethics Coordinator on +61 3 9214 3845 or email@example.com as soon as possible if you are considering or proposing research involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (or other Indigenous Peoples) in case additional requirements have to be met. All proposals significantly involving Indigenous Australians require ethical review by SUHREC, with extra-committee confidential advice obtained as appropriate.
Proposals for research involving overseas Indigenous or First Nations Peoples should take note of applicable guidelines issued within the relevant jurisdiction.
Explore our other ethics and integrity topics
Contact us for more information
If you’re unsure about any aspects of human research or would like more information, please contact Research Ethics by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.