Human Research Ethics

Ethics approval applications

Research projects to be conducted at SCHN must attain Ethics approval by a Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) before they commence. This is one of the first steps to commence any research project at SCHN.

Please refer to our Guide to a successful Research Ethics application.

Depending on the level of risk Ethics applications are classified as, will determine which review pathway the application will be reviewed under by SCHN HREC. There are three levels of risk: negligible risk, low risk and greater than low risk. See how risk is defined in the National Statement (Chapter 2.1).


The Sydney Children's Hospitals Network Human Research Ethics Committee (SCHN HREC) is certified by the NHMRC for ensuring ethical and scientific acceptability of human research conducted at sites within the SCHN; and for paediatric specific research referred by any Public Health Organisation from NSW, ACT, VIC, QLD, SA, NT, TAS and WA, as part of the National Mutual Acceptance.

The SCHN HREC operates in accordance with all relevant Australian and NSW Government legislation, policies and guidelines, such as the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (National Statement) and ICH Guideline for Good Clinical Practice.

For more information, please see the following documents:

About research ethics

Why do we have research ethics?

Ethical review is an imperative step prior to conducting human research. It was originally developed in response to the atrocities conducted during World War II, where inhumane medical experiments were performed, exemplifying an extreme manifestation of involuntary participation, risk of harm and injury, abuse of power and disregard for scientific merit and integrity in human research. 

Whilst these historical events are vastly different to the modern clinical and public health research context, the underlying principles of research ethics; voluntary participation, informed consent, acceptable risk/benefit ratio, research merit, justice and respect for participants are just as relevant today in ensuring human research participants and their rights are protected and upheld.

What is a HREC?

A Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) reviews research proposals with/or about human participants, or their data/samples to ensure that the research is ethically acceptable. Ethical review by a HREC not only guides research design and conduct from the perspective of safeguarding participants, but it also advocates for the advancement of scientific knowledge. This occurs through the HREC’s integrated scientific review process which promotes research design that will achieve the study objectives. Furthermore, ethical review aims to safeguard the credibility of human research by ensuring it is not undermined by the process in which the research outcomes are obtained.

What is the SCHN HREC?

The Sydney Children's Hospitals Network Human Research Ethics Committee (SCHN HREC) is comprised of a diverse and dedicated membership of clinicians/researchers with expertise in fields including immunology, oncology, neurology, gene therapy, bio-statistics, endocrinology and diabetes, cardiology and general medicine/surgery, neonatology, physiotherapy, nursing, genetic counselling, nuclear medicine, anaesthetics, qualitative research, social work, health policy and laboratory research in addition to community representatives, pastoral carers and lawyers.  

The SCHN HREC strongly believes in the advancement of scientific knowledge for the benefit of humanity. Concurrently, it believes that public trust in the ethical conduct of research is paramount for the continuation of a strong, symbiotic relationship between researchers and participants. 

Contact the Research Ethics office

Email: (preferred)

Phone: 7825 1253

Mailing Addresses:

  • The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Kids Research Building, Corner Hawkesbury Road and Hainsworth Street, Westmead NSW 2145.
  • Locked Bag 4001, Westmead NSW 2145
Last updated Thursday 2nd May 2024