Is the Australian HREC system sustainable?
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In Australia, Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs) have a vital role to play—as the primary institutional mechanism for ethical review of research—in protecting research participants, and promoting ethical research. Their ability to act effectively in this role is currently threatened by the limited support they receive and their burgeoning workloads. In this discussion paper, I trace some of the factors contributing to what I describe as a resource crisis in human research ethics. I suggest a review of the working of HRECs to canvas a range of alternatives which might serve to redress this crisis, so as to ensure the continued effectiveness of HRECs in protecting participants and promoting ethical research.