National Research and Evaluation Ethics Committee (NREEC)
The NREEC's primary task is to assess the ethical principles for research involving humans in the Australian primary care settings and to protect the welfare and rights of the participants in research. The committee shall also facilitate research that is or will be of benefit to the researcher's community or to humankind.
The membership of the NREEC is comprised according to NHMRC guidelines, specifically a chairperson, a vice chairperson, two lay people, a minister of religion, a lawyer representative, a general practitioner representative and several members with current research experience which is relevant to research proposals that are regularly considered by the NREEC.
The NREEC's objectives are in accordance with the National Health and Medical Research Council's 'National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007). Booklets listing NHMRC statements on human experimentation and notes on institutional ethics committees, clinical trials and epidemiological research are available from the NHMRC or can be accessed via their website.
Scope of RACGP NREEC review
The RACGP NREEC is primarily a research ethics committee with a focus on general practice research. As such, the committee will review all general practice related research proposals. It should be noted that approval of ethics applications by the Committee should not be seen as an endorsement of any product associated with a project. This caveat should be included in any documentation relating to a study which refers to NREEC endorsement.
At present, the RACGP NREEC does not review applications for Authorised Prescribing of unapproved therapeutic goods. Medical practitioners wishing to obtain HREC endorsement as an Authorised Prescriber should first contact a hospital ethics committee. If a practitioner is unable to receive review from a hospital ethics committee, then it is recommended that a practitioner seek endorsement from an appropriate ethics committee. A list of HRECs can be accessed via www.nhmrc.gov.au/health_ethics/HRECs/hreclist.htm
Time frame and meeting schedule for 2016
Review of new applications and responses to the committee
Full meetings of the RACGP NREEC are held every second month according to the following schedule. Applications should be submitted at least three (3) weeks prior to the next scheduled meeting so that materials can be prepared and sent to the committee members for reviewing.
NREEC meeting date
(Letter to researchers)
18 January 2016
8 February 2016
29 February 2016
21 March 2016
11 April 2016
2 May 2016
6 June 2016
27 June 2016
11 July 2016
18 July 2016
8 August 2015
29 August 2016
19 September 2016
10 October 2016
31 October 2016
14 November 2016
5 December 2016
23 December 2016
If requested by the investigators, and deemed necessary and appropriate by the Chair, the NREEC may also meet via teleconference to undertake urgent reviews of research proposals.
Applicants should allow for a minimum of six weeks between submission of protocol and an initial decision from the committee. Letters to researchers outlining the outcome of the meeting will be sent as soon as possible after the meeting once the Chair has reviewed the minutes.
It is important to note that the time frame for a decision may be extended if the committee deems that outside consultation is required. Outside consultation will occur only with permission of the researchers and any costs involved will be borne by the researcher.
Format of submissions
The RACGP NREEC reviews applications via the National Ethics Application Form, Version 2.1 (NEAF 2.1). The NEAF 2.1 can be accessed by creating a free new user account at the NEAF 2 website, www.neaf.gov.au. Once a NEAF 2 account is created investigators and other invited account holders (e.g. co-investigators) may edit or review a specific proposal. Further details about the NEAF 2, including a list of all questions included in the form can be obtained from the NEAF 2 website.
- Two (2) hard copies and one electronic copy (PDF format) of each submission are required
- Applicants must ensure that all relevant documents are attached
- All pages are to be numbered sequentially with appropriate headers and footers
- Each document submitted for review MUST have a version number and date
- Amendments to study documentation should always be submitted as tracked changes; a clean copy should also accompany the tracked changes version document with a new version number and date.
As per NHMRC guidelines, the NREEC is composed primarily of non-medically qualified personnel. Applicants must include a brief (200 word) outline of the research plan in lay language. (NEAF 2 item 6.3.1)
The Lay Statement must
- Provide a brief outline of the project in language that is free from jargon and is comprehensible to lay people. Please explain any technical terms or discipline-specific phrases.
- Include anticipated benefits and costs of the proposed research.
- Detail what participants will be required to do.
Patient information sheet and consent form
A requirement of the NREEC is that participants in a study receive full information about the research in language that they can understand. Information sheets and consent forms should be produced in the native language of non-English speaking participants, if required.
The Patient Information Sheet and Consent Form should contain the following elements - for more detail please refer to the application form:
- Study title
- Investigators' names and contact details
- Purpose of study
- Study procedures including what participants will be asked to do and the time commitment
- Eligibility to participate
- Risks and any debriefing arrangements as required
- Other treatments
- Clause regarding voluntary participation and non-involvement in the project will not affect ongoing management or treatment of existing patients
- Clause regarding stopping the study if events indicate
- Treatment and compensation for injury
- Possible benefits of participation
- Details of data collection, storage, use and disposal
- Informing participants of access to research findings
- Proposed reporting of findings (thesis, publication, reports given to participants, sponsors etc.);
- Details of the Ethics Approval
Further details and instructions can be found on the sample form available below. The language of the form should be specific and understandable to persons of about a Year 7 reading level.
The protocol should include a description of the following
- The research questions or hypotheses
- Literature review, including the estimated effect of this research on current knowledge
- Research plan, time frame and expected benefits
- Eligibility for participation and sample size
- Participant recruitment strategy
- Method of data collection and analysis
- Qualifications and experiences of all researchers involved
- Any financial and legal agreements involving investigators and participants
- Detailed expansion of information given in the lay statement including detailed method of obtaining consent.
A guide to the research ethics and approval process for new GP researchers can be accessed at: http://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2015/june/research-ethics-and-approval-process-a-guide-for-new-gp-researchers/.
Requirements for clinical trials
Summary of all available scientific data (two hard copies and one electronic copy - PDF format - if required).
When therapeutic agents are being investigated via Clinical Trial Notification (CTN), the full investigational drug brochures are required for ethics review according to the guidelines developed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). A subcommittee of the NREEC will assess this information. Comments from independent experts such as clinical pharmacologists and toxicologists may be requested. In such cases, applicants are required to meet the costs involved.
Clinical trial protocols will be assessed according to the March 2006 TGA document (Australian Clinical Trial Handbook) available below, as well as the previously mentioned NHMRC guidelines.
Clinical Trials Notification Forms
If CTN forms are required for the TGA, they are to be completed by the applicant for each participating centre, and included with the submission for the Chair of the NREEC to sign on approval of the project.
Clinical trials have specific legal as well as ethical implications. The RACGP, in consultation with its legal advisers, deems that the Medicines Australia Form of Indemnity for Clinical Trials is the only form of indemnity accepted by the College in respect to clinical trials. There are two versions of the form depending on whether the indemnified party is providing premises for the conduct of the study and HREC review, or is providing premises only. These documents provide indemnity for the RACGP and its agents. A signed copy of the relevant Indemnity Form should be included with the submission for clinical trials.
The Form of Indemnity for Clinical Trials - Standard is for use where the Indemnified Party is providing premises for the conduct of the Study and HREC Review, or is providing premises only. It is to be regarded as the basis for agreements between pharmaceutical companies sponsoring clinical studies and the institution that hosts the study to be conducted. Non-members of Medicines Australia are encouraged to use this Form of Indemnity.
The Form of Indemnity for Clinical Trials - HREC Review Only is for use where the Indemnified Party is providing HREC review ONLY of the Study. It is to be regarded as the basis for agreements between pharmaceutical companies sponsoring clinical studies and the institution that has oversight of the study to be conducted. Non-members of Medicines Australia are encouraged to use this Form of Indemnity.
The two forms have been developed by Medicines Australia and are an adaptation of the forms used by The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) for use in Australia.
Download the forms from the Medicines Australia web site.
The RACGP ethics application administration fee structure is:
- Individual researchers $440
- Not for profit organisations $770
- Commercial organisations and commercially funded/sponsored studies $3,300
(Fees are inclusive of GST)
These fees are charged to cover the administration costs for ethics review. A request for invoice form is included below. This must be completed and returned with the application. An invoice will then be sent to the applicant. It is required that the fee will be paid at the time of the submission to the committee.
It is acknowledged that general practitioners conducting individual research may not always be able to obtain funds for ethics review. It is not the intention of the RACGP that this be a barrier to them seeking or obtaining ethics approval. In such instances, that fee may be waived for College members at the discretion of the Chair.
Review by other authorised ethics committees
It is a requirement of the NREEC that the Declaration of Prior Review (available below) regarding previous consideration of the submission by other committees be signed and returned with the submission. (NEAF 2.1 item 4.1.2)
In order to expedite this process for clinical trials, it is strongly recommended that the applicants submit to the NREEC only after any other authorised ethics committees to which the applicant intends to apply have given a final decision. For clinical trials it is requested that copies of the outcome of Scientific Assessment Reviews completed by other institutions be included with the application, or the applicant consents to an independent scientific assessment conducted on behalf of the NREEC the cost of which will be met by the applicant.
Monitoring of projects
Researchers are required to inform the committee of the progress of their projects. In addition to immediate notification of any serious adverse events, an annual progress report and a final report are requested. Templates for these reports are available below.
For general ethics questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact:
Ms Carly Stungo
Foundation & Research Officer
100 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne Vic 3002
Phone 03 8699 0504
Fax 03 8699 0400