Human Ethics


Introduction of a Western Sydney-specific Project Description template for use in the HREA ethics application process

Researchers who submit ethics applications to the Western Sydney HREC have been using the HREA for approximately six months now. During that time we have found that the Project Description has proven to be one of the most difficult aspects of the new process. While there is a template on the HREA website, its use is often not providing the information our ethics reviewers need, or our reviewers are being asked to read excessively long documents.

In response to these issues, we have developed a Western Sydney-specific Project Description template (DOCX, 67.01 KB) (opens in a new window). This form should be used as the required ‘project description’ in all cases, except for research which is a clinical trial (in most cases researchers conducting clinical trials should submit their trial documentation instead). If you need to submit your ethics applications to other HRECs, please check with them for their specific requirements.

We have also produced the following guidance documents to assist researchers in completing the HREA and the Project Description template:

For further information, contact the human ethics team

Human ethics review

The purpose of human ethics review

Western Sydney University fosters responsible research, protecting the welfare, dignity and safety of research participants while maintaining the reputation of the University and its researchers, and minimising claims for negligence against individual researchers or the University.

Research involving humans includes, but is not restricted to, the use and/or collection of personal, collective or cultural data from participants or from their records, and may include their oral testimony or observed cultural activities and the testing of responses to conditions devised by researchers as set out in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (opens in a new window)

The University protects the welfare and rights of research participants by ensuring research projects undergo ethics review to establish that they meet the requirements of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (opens in a new window) and the Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research (opens in a new window) when relevant, and conform to any relevant legislative requirements as well as University policies.

For a step-by-step guide on how to commence human ethics review, please see How to Apply for Human Ethics Review

The human ethics committees

The Western Sydney University Human Research Ethics Committee is an accredited HREC under the terms of the NHMRC. It follows the NHMRC accreditation guidelines and reports annually to the NHMRC. It is comprised of academics and lay people as per the NHMRC required composition. The Chair is Adjunct Professor Elizabeth (Liz) Deane. The full committee meets once a month, except in January, for the assessment of Low 2 and High Risk applications, amendments and responses.

The HREC delegates the assessment of some amendments and responses to its Executive committee which meets approximately weekly.

The HREC delegates the review of projects rated Negligible or Low 1 to the Low and Negligible Risk (LNR) committee which meets approximately weekly. Liz Deane is also the Chair of the LNR.

Related documents


Complaints and adverse events

Researchers: If an adverse event occurs during your research you must stop gathering data, secure the existing data, and where appropriate, make the research site safe and advise us immediately.

Participants and researchers: If any person has a complaint about the conduct of a research project approved by the University's Human Research Ethics Committee, please contact

For more information on how complaints are reviewed by the University see Guidance on Complaints (PDF, 123.33 KB) (opens in a new window)

2017 on-campus consultations

The Human Ethics Officers are available to meet with academic and student researchers on each campus for one-to-one 30 minute consultations – February through November. We can also speak to groups of students if advised in advance.

To make a booking for a consultation, please email

Contact us

For assistance and advice on human ethics and applying for ethics approval, please contact us on 02 4736 0493 (Ext: 2493) or at

Our postal address is:

Human Ethics Officer
Research Engagement, Development and Innovation (REDI)
Western Sydney University
Locked Bag 1797
Penrith NSW 2751