Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC)

The HREC ensures that all Murdoch University research involving human participants complies with relevant standards and is conducted with the highest possible ethical integrity.

An important guiding principle for the HREC is to enhance and maintain Murdoch University's reputation for research excellence.

The committee's responsibilities and functions within the research governance framework are outlined in its Terms of Reference.

View committee meeting dates.

Research quality

The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research requires the HREC to assess that planned research is of high quality and integrity, including that the methodology is appropriate to carry out the research.


The HREC's primary role is to ensure the protection of research participants. The Committee also protects the reputation of Murdoch University and Murdoch researchers.


The HREC provides a resource for researchers by commenting on a project from a variety of perspectives. The HREC often suggests ways in which projects may be modified to improve the research and to prevent possible difficulties.

Complaints resolution

In rare cases there may be a complaint about a research project. Participants, researchers or members of the public who are unhappy with the conduct of a project are encouraged to contact Research Ethics and Integrity.

Composition of the HREC

The HREC consists of a minimum of 8 members comprising:

  • a chairperson, with suitable experience.
  • at least two lay people, one man and one woman, who have no affiliation with Murdoch University, and do not currently engage in medical, scientific, legal or academic work.
  • at least one person with knowledge of, and current experience in, the professional care, counselling or treatment of people
  • at least one person who performs a pastoral care role in a community (e.g. Minster of Religion or Aboriginal Elder).
  • at least one lawyer.
  • at least two people with current research experience that is relevant to research proposals to be considered at the meetings.

To ensure diverse representation of research areas, additional researchers are appointed to the committee. This requires additional members to be appointed in other categories to retain the overall balance of membership (at least one third of members must come from outside the university). Whenever possible there is an Indigenous voice on the Committee, and each of the sub-committees chairs are also on committee.


Possible Committee decisions

The committee has a number of options when making a decision concerning an application.  The most common decisions are:

Standard conditions of approval

In order to simplify the paperwork for researchers, the HREC has a number of standard conditions of approval. These are generally conditions which apply to all projects or which need to be taken into consideration by everyone undertaking similar research. It is important for researchers to familiarise themselves with this part of the approval letter and to ensure compliance with these conditions. Any issues should be discussed with Research Ethics and Integrity as early as possible.