The Christian Research Association has combined with Converge (International) to maintain an ethics committee. The role of the Human Research Ethics Committee is to ensure that the ethical standards outlined in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research Involving Humans (https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines-publications/e72) are met in all research projects undertaken by the CRA.
In particular, the committee must ensure that projects meet the three key principles of respect for persons, beneficence and justice as set down in the National Statement. The Committee reports annually to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). It also reports annually to the Board of the Christian Research Association.
The Ethics Committee meets at least twice a year to consider project proposals, to receive brief oral and written reports on ongoing projects, to consider any complaints or problems which may have arisen regarding ethical issues in research, to review the complaints procedures as required and to monitor research projects. The Committee also has an expedited review process in place for low-risk projects that need approval between meetings of the Committee.
The Committee consists of eight people, as required by the National Statement. These people include two people with expertise in the sorts of research undertaken by the CRA, a lawyer, a minister of religion, a person with experience in counselling, two lay people (male and female) and a chair person. All the people involved have some familiarity with the sort of research that is undertaken by the CRA, but none are part of the CRA board. None of these people are remunerated for their work and all give their time freely to assist the CRA in doing its research ethically, although a small honorarium is given to members of the Ethics Committee from time to time to assist towards travel expenses to the meetings of the Committee.
The Ethics Committee meets personally with the researchers to discuss how their projects may be conducted in an ethical manner. Researchers are required to submit their research projects on the required form, which includes a detailed account of all ethical issues including the maintenance of privacy, the assurance that all participants are fully briefed about the research and provide indications of their voluntary consent to participate in research, and that demands on participants (and possible harm) is minimised. The Committee also examines information sheets, consent forms, interview schedules and surveys that are used in research.
Professional development and training for members of the Ethics Committee is provided from time to time to ensure they are fully sensitive to the requirements of doing research ethically.
Complaints regarding the ethical conduct of research should be directed in the first place to Mrs Peg Fraser (email@example.com) or phone (03) 9988 9079. Complaints are then passed to the chair of the Ethics Committee so they can be fully examined and appropriate action taken.
The CRA Ethics Committee has also arranged to provide Ethics approval for research undertaken by staff and students and student supervisors at Harvest Bible College and Eastern College. The Committee meets with the staff and students who are undertaking projects. It monitors research primarily through receiving reports on all projects. It reports to the head of research at Harvest Bible College and Eastern College.
Rev Dr Philip Hughes, previously the Senior Research Officer, of the Christian Research Association and currently the Chief Supervisor at Harvest Bible College, acts as secretary for the Ethics Committee. He is responsible for ensuring that the Committee receives the project proposals in adequate time prior to the meetings of the Committee, and ensuring that researchers are informed about the decisions of the Committee. If any researchers whose projects have been reviewed by the CRA Ethics Committee wish to make a complaint about the ways in which the Ethics Committee has considered his or her project, they should contact Philip Hughes through Harvest Bible College.