College Human Ethics Advisory Network (CHEAN)

Terms of reference

1. Introduction

The purpose of this document is to set out the terms of reference of the RMIT University College Human Ethics Advisory Network (CHEAN).

2. Purpose

The CHEANs are established in each academic College according to the requirements for non-HREC levels of ethical review for low risk research as set out in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007 (National Statement) and relevant RMIT policy.

The CHEANs have been established to ensure that human research assessed as low or negligible risk according to the National Statement is conducted ethically, and protects the welfare and rights of participants and researchers in accordance with the National Statement, the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (Code).

3. Governing Body

The CHEANs are accountable to the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) and regularly report to the HREC on their activities. The CHEANs also report to their respective College Research Committee.

4. Responsibilities

The CHEANs shall:

4.1 Consider ethical dimensions of proposed low or negligible risk research projects, from relevant academic relevant areas, involving humans and determine whether or not they are acceptable on ethical grounds, and consistent with the values of research merit and integrity, respect for human beings, justice and beneficence and meet requirements of the National Statement and any other relevant requirements.

4.2 Ensure that research involving humans, their data or tissue, which is more than low risk, is referred to the HREC for review and approval.

4.3 Ensure that any unnecessary duplication of ethical review is minimized.

4.4 Review and approve any proposed minor or major amendments to approved projects.

4.5 Receive, review and accept annual and final reports of approved projects.

4.6 Receive and forward adverse event reports to the HREC.

4.7 Receive and forward complaints regarding CHEAN approved projects to the HREC.

4.8 Maintain accurate and complete records of all negligible and low risk human research ethics applications within each College.

4.9 Support and promote ethically good human research within the respective College that is compliant with the National Statement.

4.10 Manage appropriately any conflicts of interest (actual or potential) involving the CHEAN, its members or advisors.

Members of CHEANs also serve as ethics advisors in their respective areas to help build ethically good research practice.

In discharging its responsibilities, the CHEAN may seek assistance of such experts, or regulatory and advisory bodies, as it chooses.

5. Composition


5.1 Each CHEAN will maintain a membership drawn from academic staff within the respective College consisting of:

  • A Chair and Deputy Chair appointed by the College Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation; and,
  • A minimum of six academic staff members.

5.2 The membership requires an understanding of ethical issues that can arise in research under review by the CHEAN and an understanding and familiarity with the National Statement, and current research experience that is relevant to research proposals to be considered at meetings.

5.3 Members are expected to follow the CHEAN Committee Operating Procedures (COPs).

Term of appointment

5.4 All members of the CHEAN shall be appointed for a period of three years, and may be eligible for reappointment for a further three year period.


5.5 RMIT will provide all members with legal protection in respect of liabilities that may arise in the course of bona fide conduct of their duties.

6. Operating procedures

The operating procedures of the CHEANs are set out in the CHEAN Committee Operating Procedures.

7. Confidentiality

CHEAN documentation and proceedings shall be treated as confidential, although the CHEAN may disclose information, to appropriate internal or external bodies/ persons, at its discretion.

8. Reporting

8.1 The CHEAN will report to the HREC regularly during the year and annually (on a calendar year basis), on matters including the number of applications, approval process and any matters concerning human research ethics that should be brought to the attention of the HREC.

8.2 The CHEAN will also report to their respective College Research Committee on a regular basis during the year and provide an annual report.

9. Evaluation and review

The CHEAN shall evaluate its performance annually, with an emphasis upon continuous improvement in processes and operations, and report to the Human Research Ethics Committee.

10. Approval

The College Human Ethics Advisory Network Terms of Reference were last approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee on 17 February 2016.