Consultation, Deliberation and the Review of the National Statement
In 2007 the National Medical Health and Research Council (NHMRC) released a revised National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research. This was the result of two rounds of public consultation by a working committee of the Australian Health and Ethics Committee (AHEC), a principal committee of the NHMRC. Drawing on the public consultation documentation and publicly available submissions to the review, this chapter assesses the consultation process which accompanied the review and revision of the 1999 National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research Involving Humans to determine whether the consultation process was effective as a mechanism for encouraging consultation, deliberation and accountability by AHEC, through the working committee responsible for redrafting this National Statement. Drawing on recent literature in deliberative democracy we identify three aspects of the review process for critical evaluation: inclusive participation in policy development, discursive deliberation about policy arguments, and public accountability for policy decision-making.
KeywordsNational statement Consultation Research ethics Participation Deliberation Accountability
This research was conducted as part of Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant “Big Picture Bioethics: Policy-making and Liberal Democracy” (DP0556068). We thank Mathew Sammel from NHMRC for his assistance and Christopher Cordner, Chair of the AHEC working committee which reviewed the National Statement, for discussions of the process of the review and its aims, as well as for comments on earlier drafts of this paper.
Susan Dodds wrote submissions in response to the review of the National Statement (including both consultation drafts) and was a member of the Australian Health Ethics Committee 2012–2015.
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