We use an ethics approval process to ensure we produce high quality research while respecting the rights of participants. These standards, set through our registered independent Human Research Ethics Committee, are the heart of our research rigour.

External applications

We are reviewing our policy in regards to external applications. For the foreseeable future HREC will not be accepting external applications.

Human Research Ethics Committee

BSL's Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) is registered through the National Health and Medical Research Centre (NHMRC) which oversees the conduct and compliance of all research conducted in Australia involving humans. Ethics review is undertaken by the HREC in line with the NHMRC National Guidelines to ensure risks to all involved are managed and their safety and privacy is protected, both personally and legally.

The HREC is therefore warranted under the National Guidelines, and other relevant legislation, to ensure all activities conducted under the auspice of BSL are ethically sound and underpinned by the NHMRC’s five ethical principles:

  • respect
  • beneficence
  • justice
  • merit
  • integrity

For more information and guidelines on ethical conduct in research, see the NHMRC Guidelines.

Our ethical standards

To ensure that we maintain and develop these high ethical standards, our research must also adhere to the standards outlined in BSL's Research Ethics & Integrity Policy. Our own ethics applications must demonstrate:

  • the research will be relevant to the lives of people on low incomes
  • participants are considered as partners in the research process
  • the research will not harm participants
  • people have the right not to participate, with no adverse consequences from that decision

Ethics committee membership

The Human Research Ethics Committee comprises a diverse mix of internal and external members as stipulated under the NHMRC Guidelines. Janet Cohen is an independent chair of the committee. A commercial lawyer, Janet has extensive experience in the governance of research ethics.

Debra Saffrey Collins

Head of Chaplaincy and Diocesan Partnerships, Brotherhood of St. Laurence

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Nick White

Anglican Diocese of Melbourne

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Shelley Mallett

The Brotherhood of St. Laurence

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Our ethics process

There are two levels of ethical review conducted by BSL’s Human Research Ethics Committee and determined by the project’s perceived level of risk:

Level of risk

Review type

Low or negligible risk where there is no foreseeable risk of harm or discomfort, or it is foreseeable but not beyond inconvenience

Expedited online review permitted undertaken by two rotating members of the Brotherhood’s HREC

Above low or negligible risk where there is foreseeable risk of harm or discomfort beyond inconvenience

Full HREC review required undertaken by all HREC members at the next bi-monthly scheduled meeting

There are four different forms to be completed at stages of the ethics review process.

If you have any questions on the conduct of ethical research, or require guidance on preparing an ethics submission, email Ethics@bsl.org.au.

Our ethics committee meeting times

The Human Research Ethics Committee currently meets bi-monthly or as needed.

All applications must be sent to Ethics@bsl.org.au at least 4 weeks before the scheduled meeting date.