ABOUT ETHICS: AH&MRC’s Research Ethics Committee (HREC) reviews all applications for research projects to ensure views and interests align with Aboriginal people across NSW. Click here to learn more about HREC or to submit your ethics application.
Coronavirus is affecting everyone, including the AH&MRC Human Research Ethics Committee. At this stage the AH&MRC HREC has determined to protect the safety of Aboriginal participants that approval of face to face data collection methods has been suspended. The HREC would encourage researchers to consider remote methods of data collection during this time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find answers to the common questions we receive about an Ethics application and the Ethics Committee.

If you have a question that you can’t find the answer to, please email your query in the first instance to ethics@ahmrc.org.au or call us on (02) 9212 4777.

How many copies of my application do I need to submit?

We only require one electronic copy.

Does my project require a letter of support?

If you are working directly with an ACCHS – an organisation consent form will suffice as support from the ACCHS.

Please note: If the ACCHS/s that you are working with would prefer to submit a letter of support then we cannot approve your application until you have submitted that letter of support.

The ACCHS I am working with would like to write a letter of support and sign the organisational consent form, but won’t only the consent form suffice?

No. The AH&MRC Ethics Committee reviews an application based on Aboriginal Community Control. If you are working directly with an ACCHS, you should respect the process that they determine.

When engaging an ACCHS, who can sign the organisation consent form?

Only the CEO and Chairperson can sign this form, because only their authority is recognised by the AH&MRC Ethics Committee.

If I am not working directly with an ACCHS, do I require support from an ACCHS?

You should always have the support of the local ACCHS. However, because you are not working directly with an ACCHS, you do not require a letter of support or an organisation consent form from an ACCHS. However, you do need the support from the local Aboriginal community. For example, Community engagement may be sought through the establishment of a local Aboriginal reference group.

Why don’t I need to submit an organisation consent form or letter of support if I am not working with an ACCHS?

You do not require these for your application because you are not retrieving any data or knowledge from an ACCHS and you’re not working directly with an ACCHS. This process can also overburden a service if they are not involved. However, what you may do is form a local community reference group specific to the location you are working in to help guide your research project.

What is an ACCHS?

An Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) is a primary health care service initiated and operated by the local Aboriginal community to deliver holistic, comprehensive and culturally appropriate health care to the community which controls it (through a locally elected Board of Management).

Community Control, as defined by NACCHO, has genesis in Aboriginal peoples’ right to self-determination. It is a process which allows the local Aboriginal community to be involved in its affairs in accordance with whatever protocols or procedures are determined by the Community.

Can the AH&MRC help with getting a letter of support or signed consent form from the local ACCHS?

No. The AH&MRC expects that researchers build and maintain their own relationships with an ACCHS, it would be preferable that you have established these relationships before you have submitted your application.

What benefit will it have for me as a researcher to have relationships built with an ACCHS?

If you have a strong mutually beneficial relationship with an ACCHS, they may invite you back to do further research. Aboriginal Health is a specialised area of health and if you can do this well, it supports the Aboriginal Sector and also your knowledge as a researcher.

What is the process of drafting, submitting and having an ethics submission approved?

Why do I need AH&MRC Ethics Approval?

Your application falls within our criteria which is directed by the Office of Health and Medical Research.

What happens if I don’t get Ethics approval?

Very rarely does an application get rejected by the committee. In the first instance, we will work with you to get your project to a level that it can be approved.

I already started a project, do I still need Ethics Approval?

The AH&MRC Ethics Committee will not provide retrospective approval. However, you will still be required to submit your application for review.

I received a ‘request for further information letter’ what do I do?

The request for further information letter includes; a request for further information, a request to amend/ remove/ add documents or sections to your project wherever suitable. This is in accordance with all guiding documents.

How long is my project approved for?

Your project is approved for five (5) years maximum. If your project goes over this, you must resubmit. You must also submit amendments (if necessary) and annual reports. If you do not submit an annual report, your project approval ceases until we have received it.

How long does it take to review a project?

We allow up to 4-8+ weeks for our reviewers to review your application. However, we check in at regular intervals to ensure it is tracking well.

How do I submit an Amendment?

To submit an amendment, please log in to your portal on Submittable. Go to the messages section and outline that you would like to submit an amendment. The HREC staff will send through a form which you will need to complete and submit. Once submitted, this will be visible to you when you log into Submittable. You will receive an email confirmation once the amendment has been reviewed and approved.

How do I submit an Annual Progress Report?

Submittable will automatically send a reminder that the Annual Progress Report is due one month prior to the submission deadline.

If you need to submit an early Annual Progress Report, please log in to your portal on Submittable. Go to the messages section and outline that you would like to submit an Annual Progress Report. The HREC staff will send through a form which  you will need to complete and submit. Once submitted, this will be visible to you when you log into Submittable. You will receive an email confirmation once the Annual Progress Report has been reviewed and approved.

This seems like a lot of work just to do a research project, why is it necessary?

Consider the history of research ABOUT Aboriginal peoples and their communities.  Making the effort to engage appropriately WITH Aboriginal peoples and their communities takes time, but is worth it.

My project will benefit Aboriginal people, why can’t you just approve it?

The AH&MRC Ethics Committee believes that Aboriginal people should be able to determine what benefits them.