WACHS Human Research Ethics Committee

The WACHS HREC was established in 1994 as the Bunbury Hospital Research Committee. This was changed to the South West Health Service Board HREC, before becoming the WACHS Board Research Ethics Committee in 2007. The WACHS Human Research Ethics Committee is responsible for assessing the ethical implications of all research protocols undertaken within the WA Country Health Service and is registered with the National Health and Medical Research Council (EC00261).

About the Committee

The WA Country Health Service Human Research Ethics Committee (WACHS HREC) is responsible for fostering quality research and for ensuring that research undertaken meets the guidelines of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) within the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007). The WACHS HREC operates in accordance with the WA Health Research Governance Policy and Procedures (2012) and the WA Health Research Governance and Single Ethical Review Standard Operating Procedures (2013). The WACHS HREC is a WA Lead HREC and ensures all health related research (excluding clinical trials) undertaken within WACHS sites or accessing WACHS data, participants or tissue meets the ethical standards established by the NHMRC. Governance review of all approved  HREC research projects is also required through the WACHS HREC Executive Officer.

Ethics (Step One)

Human research ethical and scientific review enables WA Health to ensure that a proposed research project complies with appropriate ethical and scientific standards through an effective and efficient system of review.

Single-centre research (involving only one WA health service) requires review from the WA Health Lead HREC for that jurisdiction. For example, if a research project involves only WACHS participants, then ethical approval from the WACHS HREC is required.

Multi-centre research (involving two or more WA health services) requires review by only one Lead WA Health HREC utilising the WA Health Single Ethical Review process (established in 2012). For example, if a research project involves only WACHS participants and participants from another health service, only review by one WA Health Lead HREC is required.

HREC approval from an external organisation is not accepted by any WA Health Lead HREC; therefore the project will still require review by a WA Health Lead HREC.

A list of all WA Health HRECs and their contact details is available here.

Governance (Step Two)

Please note, in addition to the scientific and ethical review by a Lead HREC, all human research conducted in WA Health must undergo a governance review before authorisation can be granted. Human research projects cannot commence within WA Health until the PI has received written notification of authorisation by the Health Service Chief Executive/delegate to conduct research at a site or access participants, tissue or data. Research governance ensures the principles, requirements and standards of research are implemented. It addresses protection of research participants, the safety and quality of research, financial probity, legal and regulatory matters, risk management, monitoring arrangements, and promotes good research culture and practice.

This review is an independent institutional review and is to be conducted by every WA Health institution the research project involves PRIOR to any research commencing at that site or involving the health service’s participants. 

The governance process is separate to ethical review of a research project and can be prepared in parallel to the HREC application however should only be submitted following receipt of ethical approval. Authorisation to commence a research project will only be granted when a HREC has recommended ethics approval. Please refer to the below link for the ethic and governance review pathways.