Recognition of External Ethics Approval

What is External Ethics Recognition?

The National Statement (opens in a new window) encourages Ethics Committees to avoid duplication of ethical review where possible.

If you have received ethics approval from an acceptable external Ethics Committee, you may not need to apply for separate approval from Western. Instead, you can submit a request to the Ethics Secretariat for your external ethics approval to be recognised and recorded. This process is known as 'External Recognition' and it helps to ensure that records on the Research Portal are complete, and it assists the Research Office to manage grants and funding.

It is important to note that Western Sydney University recognition of an external ethics approval is not approval from the University to conduct the research. If you apply for external ethics recognition your project will not be reviewed by an ethics committee, and you will not receive an ethics approval letter from Western Sydney University. The external ethics committee will remain solely responsible for the ethical conduct of the research, and you will need to comply with the terms and conditions of the approving ethics committee.

Some examples of acceptable external ethics approval include:

  • Approval from an Australian NHMRC registered Research Ethics Committee (for example, another university or a Local Health District Ethics Committee).
  • Approval from an international Ethics Committee or a country that has an ethical review process that is equivalent to the Australian process.

The Western Sydney University HREC currently accepts that ethical reviews from the following countries or international Ethics Committees are equivalent to an Australian ethical review:

Country Acceptable committees
Australia Any NHMRC registered Ethics Committee
Canada Any Ethics Review Board
Fiji Any Research Ethics Committee
Germany Any Ethics Committee
Iran Tehran University of Medical Sciences
Malawi College of Medicine Research and Ethics Committee
Malaysia University of Malaya Medical Research Ethics Committee
New Zealand Any Ethics Committee
South Africa Any Institutional Review Board
United Kingdom Any Research Ethics Committee
United States Any Institutional Review Board. Note: it is a common practice to 'exempt' projects that are low risk. If an IRB has 'exempted' the project, this is not ethics approval, and you may need to apply for ethics approval via the WSU committee.

How do I apply?

To be eligible for Western Sydney University external ethics recognition:

  • the Western Sydney University staff/student must be listed on the approved ethics application, and/or named in the approval letter (or an approved amendment letter)
  • where appropriate Western Sydney University must be listed as a research site
  • the approving HREC must accept responsibility for all aspects of the project, including activities, sites, and personnel. They must also accept responsibility for ongoing project monitoring including adverse event monitoring.

To request recognition, please submit a completed External Ethics Recognition Cover Sheet (DOCX, 49.41 KB) (opens in a new window) and attach copies of:

  • the ethics application that was reviewed by the other institution
  • the other institution's ethics approval letter; and
  • any other related correspondence.

Who can I contact for assistance?

If you are unsure whether your ethics approval meets the criteria for external recognition, please contact the Human Ethics Secretariat at

If your ethics approval was obtained from a committee or country that is not listed in the above table, the Ethics Secretariat can investigate and seek advice from the HREC on your behalf.

When corresponding, please attach copies of any documentation that is currently available including the ethics application and approval letter.