AIFS Ethics Committee
Terms of Reference
The AIFS Ethics Committee is a Human Research Ethics Committee registered with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). The responsibility of the AIFS Ethics Committee is to consider planned Institute research project proposals to determine whether, in the Committee’s opinion, the proposed research meets ethical guidelines designed to prevent harm to human research participants, and also, whether the proposals meet the requirement of respect for participants. In particular, the Committee shall ensure that projects meet the key principles of research merit and integrity, respect for persons, beneficence, and justice as set down in the National Statement.
The AIFS Ethics Committee terms of reference are to:
- consider all new research project proposals and ratify any decisions taken by the Chair’s action, or via the expedited review process since the previous meeting;
- receive brief oral or written reports on ongoing research projects;
- consider any complaints or concerns, on a confidential basis, which may have arisen regarding ethical issues in AIFS research, and review the complaints procedures as required and in accordance with AIFS procedures;
- provide advice on ethic issues or questions as they may arise;
- ensure that all projects and approval procedures conform to the requirements of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research and the ethical guidelines adopted by the Institute.
The AIFS Ethics Committee will meet at least once a year, or as required. The Deputy Director (Research) and the Ethics Secretariat will consult with the Chair in calling meetings of the Committee. Procedures are in place in the event of the Chair being absent from a meeting, in the event of a vacancy, or for calling for new or co-opted members.
Applications to the AIFS Ethics Committee contain a clear, brief and non-technical description of the research project together with a completed AIFS ethics form, Application for Ethics Committee Approval of a Research Project. These forms are submitted to the Ethics Committee Secretariat in electronic and hard copy form in accordance with established administrative procedures. Where projects are determined to carry low or negligible risk the non-committee review process is undertaken. The Chair of the Committee may decide to recommend ethical clearance in advance of the next AIFS Ethics Committee meeting:
- where an application is considered via the expedited review process; or
- where time constraints require a decision to be made before the views of the full AIFS Ethics Committee can be adequately solicited.
The AIFS Ethics Committee currently comprises eight members, consisting of:
- a Chairperson, with suitable experience;
- three lay people (a man and two women);
- one lawyer;
- one person with current research experience, relevant to the research interests of the AIFS;
- one person who performs a pastoral care role in the community;
- one person with knowledge of, and current experience in, professional care, counselling or treatment of people.
AIFS Ethics Committee members are appointed by the AIFS Director for a period of three years, following an application and appointment process. The remuneration for Members of the AIFS Ethics Committee is based on the Remuneration Tribunal Category Remuneration and Allowances for Holders of Part-time Public Office, Clause 8, Member rate, and is payable annually in May. The remuneration is calculated on the expectation that the AIFS Ethics Committee will meet in person, on average, approximately four times per year, involving half-day meetings, and allows for preparation time and the additional work involved in dealing with expedited reviews.