Human research ethics and governance at South Metropolitan Health Service

The South Metropolitan Health Service (SMHS) has a centralised area wide Research Support and Development Unit (RSDU) based at the Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) campus. The aim of the centralised RSDU is to improve the efficiency and quality of ethical and governance reviews, especially for multi-site projects and clinical trials, and to support local clinical researchers to understand and meet their regulatory obligations.

The SMHS RSDU unit provides ethical and governance review of proposed research projects and monitoring of approved research for all SMHS sites including:

  • Fiona Stanley Hospital
  • Fremantle Hospital and Health Service
  • Rockingham Peel Group
  • South Metropolitan Mental Health Service
  • South Metropolitan Population Health Unit.

Researchers, study coordinators and study sponsors should contact the RSDU as early as possible when planning a new research project or when considering adding a SMHS site to an existing project.

COVID-19 and research

In this rapidly evolving situation, SMHS is striving to support the safe initiation and continuation of research at our sites. We endeavour to provide up to date information however researchers should be aware that any advice is subject to change at short notice. Our aim is to reduce total patient numbers attending the site, minimise person to person contact, and keep patients and staff safe.

Read more in the SMHS COVID-19 research FAQs (PDF 189KB)

2018 SMHS Research Report

Our 2018 SMHS Research Report (3.4MB) highlights the large volume of research activity conducted across SMHS during 2018 and the dedication of our staff in communicating and translating their research through publication. 

View full report

Research Governance Framework

The WA Health Research Governance Framework (external link) governs the scientific, ethical and site governance review and approval and the conduct and monitoring of human research within WA public health organisations.

The policy and procedures apply to WA Health employees and non-WA Health employees (including clinical and non-clinical university academics) who propose to undertake, manage, review and govern human research involving patients, their tissue or data accessed through WA Health.

Research projects cannot commence at SMHS sites until they have:

  1. ethical and scientific approval AND
  2. site governance approval.

The ethical and site governance reviews are independent processes, but usually conducted in parallel.

SMHS retains the right not to authorise a research project at its sites, even if the project has ethical approval and/or site approval at other institutions.

SMHS Human Research Ethics Committees

Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs) review research proposals involving human participants to ensure that they are ethically acceptable and in accordance with the NHMRC National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) (external site) (external link). HRECs also monitor the conduct of research projects until completion to ensure they conform to ethical requirements.

All human research conducted in WA Health must undergo ethical and scientific review, approval and monitoring by a WA Health HREC.

The SMHS has one HREC, the SMHS HREC, but also accepts the ethical review of other WA Health HRECs under the WA Health Single Ethical Review process. If your project already has approval from a WA Health HREC you do not need to submit the project to the SMHS HREC. You will still need to submit a Site Specific Assessment (SSA) Form for SMHS research governance review.

All new submissions for ethical review should be submitted by email:

Hardcopy submissions are not required.

When planning a new research project or ethics submission, it is highly advisable to speak to the SMHS Ethics Coordinator or Administrative Officer to confirm the submission requirements for your project.

All applications are reviewed by the Ethics Coordinator and feedback provided prior to the HREC meeting. Research ethics reviews are a collaborative process between the researcher and the HREC and the collaboration should begin prior to the formal submission and while the project is being reviewed by the HREC Coordinator.
Research participants

If you are participating in a South Metropolitan Health Service research project and are concerned about your rights or wish to complain about any aspect of a research project, please contact the South Metropolitan Health Service Research Support and Development Unit by email or phone 6152 1284.

Contact us

Research Ethics 

Research Governance