Health and medical research – streamlining human research ethics reviews

The Government is providing $5.6 million over four years for the National Health and Medical Research Council to streamline approvals via human research ethics reviews by establishing a national single review system for projects across research sites.

Page last updated: 08 May 2007

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Why is this important?

  • In Australia, research on humans is approved by Human Research Ethics Committees before being allowed to commence.
  • Approximately 400 clinical trials take place at sites throughout Australia each year, in addition to a great deal of other research that requires approval from multiple ethics committees. The need for multiple ethics committee approval can take a long time, delaying or sometimes forcing the abandonment of research and jeopardising Australia’s competitiveness.
  • Building on work in a number of states, a coordinated national system will streamline approval of cross-jurisdictional and multi-centre research by establishing national committees that will conduct a single review of such research. These committees will be established in consultation with states and territories.

Who will benefit?

  • Australians participating in research will be better protected as a result of improved consistency in the quality of ethical review of research, with flow-ons to more rapid access to new treatments.
  • Reduced red tape and fewer delays in approval for research will generate economic benefits for all Australians, and industry and researchers will have more incentive to continue high-quality research in Australia.

What funding is the Government committing to the initiative?

  • The Government will provide new funding of $5.6 million over four years to establish the national system.

What have we done in the past?

  • This initiative will ensure that Australia’s world-class health and medical research effort is sustained and enhanced. It builds on the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) efforts to make the research approvals process more efficient and effective.

When will the initiative conclude?

  • Funding for this initiative is ongoing.

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