Contact information for MERI
Visit the MERI contact page to learn more about the team.
Supporting our Human Researchers
The Office of Research Ethics and Integrity (OREI) has introduced improvements to streamline the human research ethics application process and provide more support for researchers.
Improvements for researchers include:
- An academic Research Ethics Adviser (REA) will conduct a pre-submission review and provide feedback to researchers, to improve the quality of the application and increase the chance of first pass approval
- Convenience of online application submissions and feedback from reviewers and committees using the new Infonetica Ethics Review Manager (ERM) system
- Applications are assessed then allocated to one specific Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) for review (no longer required to be reviewed by two committees)
- Increased frequency of committee meetings means greater access for researchers (weekly/fortnightly)
- Research Ethics Officers (REOs) will liaise with researchers regarding the committee review and provide feedback
Given the frequency of committee meetings, submission deadlines for new applications are no longer required. Applications will be reviewed in the next available meeting. OREI understands that this way of working is different for you and may take time to get used to.
If you have a query regarding a specific HREC, please contact the Research Ethics Officer (REO) assigned to support that committee.
For more information regarding how to apply for human ethics approval, committee membership, including REO contact details, please refer to the HREC page on the Research Gateway.
Improvements for Human Research Ethics Committees
Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs) have been restructured to bring together disciplines that use similar research methods. This combining of cognate disciplines will enhance application reviews and enable workload sharing. To align with the National Statement, the committees are named Greater than low risk (GTLR), and Low and negligible risk (LNR) committees.
There are 5 GTLR and 16 LNR committees that will commence meeting in November.
The new meeting schedule is designed to provide researchers with greater access to committees. The intention is for human research ethics applications to be reviewed and approved sooner. Researchers will have fortnightly access to GTLR committee meetings, and weekly access to LNR committee meetings, removing the requirement for submission deadlines. All new applications will undergo a pre-submission review by an academic Research Ethics Advisor (REA) to assist with the quality of applications and increase approval rates.
Applications are then reviewed and approved by either a GTLR or LNR committee.
Additional Infonetica ERM Training now available
Researchers and graduate researchers who submit human ethics applications are encouraged to attend a 1.5 hour training session to learn how to use Infonetica ERM.
The training session will cover the new human ethics application process, how to use Infonetica ERM to submit applications, and the new human ethics committee structures and meeting schedules.
Register by clicking on the suitable session below to apply using Eventbrite.
Eventbrite Registration Link
Thu 19 Nov
Tue 24 Nov
Wed 2 Dec
Please note – tailored training sessions will be held in the coming weeks for human research ethics committee members.
Research activity in government schools and early childhood settings
All research and evaluation activity involving Victorian government schools and Victorian early childhood services requires approval through the Department of Education and Training’s (DET’s) Research in Schools and Early Childhood settings (RISEC) process.
The move to increased restrictions across Victoria necessitates that the DET again pauses the RISEC process and research and evaluation activities involving schools and early childhood sites. These activities are suspended for the remainder of 2020.
Therefore, the following should not proceed:
- RISEC-approved research and evaluations
- Any other contact with schools or early childhood sites, staff, or children to conduct, or to recruit for, research and evaluation activity
- RISEC applications and amendment requests.
There is no guarantee that this suspension of activities will not continue into next year. MERI encourages all supervisors to continue to discuss with Graduate Researchers how to redesign their project so that it can go forward.
Catholic Education Melbourne (CEM): Applications to conduct research
CEM is still accepting applications to conduct research in CEM schools and these applications will be subjected to the usual review process. However, even if approved, researchers are not yet permitted to approach schools until they are given written permission by CEM. All approvals at the moment are ‘conditional’. Some projects have been exempt from this current ban on approaching schools (e.g. research that has been instigated by a school not an external researcher, or research that had already begun pre-COVID), but this is considered by CEM.
Travel updates: China, Hong Kong and Indonesia
China will not allow most foreigners to enter China due to COVID-19 and direct flights between China and Australia have been significantly reduced. DFAT advises that if, despite that advice, you travel to China you will be subject to 14 days mandatory quarantine and quarantine requirements may change at short notice. If you’re already in China and wish to return to Australia, DFAT recommends you do so as soon as possible by commercial means. Australians are advised that they may be at risk of arbitrary detention.
National Security legislation for Hong Kong came into effect on 1 July 2020. This law could be interpreted broadly and the full extent of the law and how it will be applied is not yet clear. You could break the law without intending to. You may be at increased risk of detention on vaguely defined national security grounds. Visit the Smart Traveller website and select 'Local Laws' to find out more.
New regulations are in place for researchers wishing to conduct research in Indonesia and foreign researchers are advised to confirm compliance with following new regulations:
“Foreign nationals conducting research in Indonesia are advised to reconfirm their compliance with local regulations, following a legislative amendment in July that introduced new requirements. Foreign researchers must now seek ethical approval from the Research, Technology and Higher Education Ministry, alongside the pre-existing visa and permit requirements for conducting research. Penalties for non-compliance with this policy now include criminal prosecution with the possibility of imprisonment. Travellers intending to conduct research are advised to contact their nearest Indonesian Embassy for advice.”
The University of Melbourne would like to emphasise that researchers are to contact their nearest embassy or consulate for specific guidance if they are currently conducting research in Indonesia or will be in the future.
For more information:
University travel portal
The University’s health and safety travel portal has been updated with the most recent DFAT travel advice.
AIATSIS Code of Ethics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research
AIATSIS has announced the release of the AIATSIS Code of Ethics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research (AIATSIS Code of Ethics) in conjunction with a Guide to applying the AIATSIS Code of Ethics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research. These documents will supersede and replace the Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies 2012 (GERAIS).