AIATSIS Human Research Ethics Committee

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) Human Research Ethics Committee (committee) is responsible for reviewing projects involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research to ensure the appropriate ethical standards have been met.

The (AIATSIS) Human Research Ethics Committee welcomes applications from external organisations (fees apply). All AIATSIS research projects are reviewed by the committee.

The committee is registered with the NHMRC and reviews projects in accordance with the National Statement and the AIATSIS Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies (GERAIS).

All research projects that involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples require ethics review and approval before the project begins.

Meeting dates

The AIATSIS Human Research Ethics Committee meet six (6) per year. Notification of the committee’s decision is provided to applicants within ten (10) working days after each meeting.

Note: Meeting dates are subject to change

Meeting No.

Meeting Date

Closing Date for submission of ethics applications


11 February 2020

21 January 2020


24 March 2020

3 March 2020


5 May 2020

14 April 2020


16 June 2020

26 May 2020


28 July 2020

7 July 2020


8 September 2020

18 August 2020


20 October 2020

29 September 2020


1 December 2020

10 November 2020

Committee Members 

Kevin Williams

Kevin Williams (Chair)

Kevin is a descendant of the Wakka Wakka people, he joined the AIATSIS Research Ethics Committee in 2019 as Chairperson.

Kevin has a Bachelor of Arts degree (CQU), Bachelor of Laws (UNSW), Master of Laws (SCU) and has worked in academia and human rights for a number of years.

Kevin is currently undertaking a PhD in law.



Andrew Crowden

A/Professor Andrew Crowden (Deputy Chair) 

Andrew Crowden has PhD and Master’s degrees from the Bioethics Centre at Monash University. He is Associate Professor in Philosophy at the University of Queensland’s School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, Honorary Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne and an Adjunct Professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) where he is Chairperson of the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) and Chairperson of the Animal Ethics Committee.

Andrew’s research in philosophy, ethics and genomics is funded by the University of Queensland, the Queensland Genomic Health Alliance and the John Templeton Foundation in collaboration with the University of Virginia and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. Andrew joined the AIATSIS Research Ethics Committee in 2017.

Robert Kelly

Robert Kelly 

Robert Kelly is a First Nations man of both Indigenous Australian and New Zealand Maori heritage. Robert has over 16 years’ experience working environmental and cultural heritage conservation with a particular focus on the repatriation of ancestral remains and objects back to First Nation communities. 

Robert joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2019 and is the male lay person on the committee. Robert has a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Human Geography and Aboriginal Studies, graduating from the University of Wollongong in 2009 with Distinction. Robert is due to graduate from Flinders University in 2020 with a postgraduate qualification in Archaeology. 

Robert has worked for the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, NSW Office of Environment & Heritage and the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet since 2003. Robert continues to work in government for Heritage NSW focussing on Aboriginal heritage programs. 

Rachel Perkins

Helen Mchugh 

Helen joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2019. She has a Bachelor of Health Education from the University of Canberra, and a Graduate Certificate in Indigenous Education. She has worked in Community Development and Training positions in NGOs and public service departments since 1992. 

Her introduction to working with Indigenous people was as a Project Officer looking into the unpaid work done by women on remote communities, after the NT Emergency Response (The Intervention). Helen then worked for several years as a Health Trainer for the Aboriginal Interpreter Service - in Darwin and remote communities. 

Helen believes that there is research ON Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, rather than WITH them, and that urban dwellers are often assumed to be less “cultural” than residents of remote communities, and therefore less likely to be respected appropriately. Helen has an unwavering commitment to addressing the gaps in equity of access that Australian Indigenous people experience in their own country. 

Mandy Downing

Mandy Downing

Mandy Downing is a Yindjibarndi woman who descends from the Lockyer family from the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Mandy is a Senior Research Services Officer in the Research Office at Curtin University located on Wadjuk Noongar Boodjar and has worked in various roles in research at Curtin since 2012.  

Mandy joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2019 as a Researcher. Mandy has a Bachelor of Applied Science Indigenous Australian Research (Honours) degree from Curtin University, Centre for Aboriginal Studies where she explored the institutional barriers which Aboriginal researchers face when conducting human research and is a Doctor of Philosophy student at the University of Western Australia with research interests in the decolonisation of policy and institutional racism.

Mandy is a graduate from the Western Australian Aboriginal Leadership Institute and has worked in the education, employment and training sector for 20 years. Mandy is a Committee member for the University of Western Australia Human Research Ethics Committee and the Western Australian Department of Education Schools Animal Ethics Committee. 

Rowan Savage

Dr Rowan Savage 

Rowan Savage is a proud Kombumerri man. He works in the field of Aboriginal education, with a focus on languages and culture. He has a strong interest in equity and diversity, across all aspects of identity but with a particular focus on Aboriginality and LGBTQI identity. He volunteers in various positions related to these interests.

Rowan joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2019 as a Researcher. He holds a doctorate in sociology and, before entering his current position in Aboriginal education, has worked as a university lecturer, and in public service in the field of human rights.

Mr Trent Shepherd 

Trent Shepherd is an Aboriginal lawyer and Gomeroi man. Currently working at the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT, he was previously working with the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court on improving access to justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and families. He was instrumental in the establishment of Indigenous Family Law courts across Australia. Trent also sits on the NSW Law Society’s Indigenous Issues Committee.

Trent joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2019 and is the legal representative has a Trent has degrees in Arts and Law from the University of Wollongong. He has been admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, Federal Court and High Court of Australia.

Tara Harriden 

Tara Harriden 

Tara is a Wiradjuri woman who was born on Eora Country and grew up on Turrbal and Yugara Country (Brisbane City). Tara been a registered teacher since 1991 and has worked as a high school Dance, English and Art teacher, school counsellor, principal, head of wellbeing, professional learning coordinator and careers/guidance counsellor. She has worked as an educator in high schools, TAFEs and universities from Bamaga to Hobart, Geraldton to Alice Springs and Adelaide and has written and delivered the nationally accredited Diploma of Flexible Learning.

Tara is also a youth worker and a registered and practising Arts Therapist, having completed a Master of Mental Health at the University of Queensland School of Medicine in 2009. Tara runs art therapy and arts-based clinical supervision sessions for her clients on weekends and after hours. Tara has 2 very loving parents, 3 beautiful adult kids, a dog, a cat, 5 fish and a collection of pot plants she shares her love with. Tara joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2019 and is the Pastoral Care member of the Ethics Committee.

Kay Blades

Kay Blades 

Kay Blades is a Mandandanji woman from South West Queensland. Kay joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2019.

She is recognised around the country for her work in building the cultural capability of staff working for Commonwealth agencies and departments. 

Kay has worked with the Commonwealth for 33 years. For a lot of these years she has worked in Indigenous affairs. 

Kay also brings to the committee her lived experiences of holding an advisory position with not-for-profit Aboriginal organisations for the past 7 years.


Tracey Powis

Dr Tracey Powis 

Tracey is a pākehā (European descent, from Aotearoa/New Zealand) cis-woman who grew up in Australia and has spent a fair amount of her life going back and forth across the ditch for work and family reasons. She's worked with Aboriginal communities in a number of capacities, whether in research, community-outreach or therapeutic services. She's also a mother to two children, of pākehā & Aboriginal heritage respectively.

Currently Tracey  works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and their families in Canberra, ACT.

Tracey joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2019 and is the Professional Care representative. Tracey has tertiary qualifications in psychology and research and is genuinely surprised to realise that she's been working in this space for almost 15 years. She continues to learn from those who have gone before her, and from the children and young people in her life, who keep her accountable on a daily basis. 

Areti Metuamate

Dr Areti Metuamate

Dr Areti Metuamate is of Maori (Ngati Kauwhata, Ngati Raukawa ki te Tonga, Ngati Haua, Waikato-Tainui) and Pasifika heritage and is married to Aboriginal academic Dr Jessa Rogers (Wiradjuri) with two step-sons and a son on the way. Dr Metuamate is the Dean of St Mark’s College in Adelaide and a member of the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia, the Animal Ethics Committee of the University of Adelaide, the Board of Directors of the Asia-Pacific Student Accommodation Association, and the International Relations Committee of the International Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation. 

Dr Metuamate joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2019 as a researcher, and has been an independent consultant in Indigenous research for a number of years. Dr Metuamate’s PhD is from the Australian National University and his research interests include Indigenous governance and politics, education policy, regulation (health and education), Australia-New Zealand relations, and leadership in the Pacific. 

Teela Reid

Teela Reid 

Teela Reid is a proud Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman, lawyer and activist born and raised in Gilgandra western NSW. She is currently a defence lawyer based in Sydney. Teela was involved as a working group leader on s 51(xxvi), the Race Power, in the Constitutional dialogue process that culminated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart and is an advocate for a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution. 

Teela obtained her postgraduate Juris Doctor/Law from UNSW Law Sydney and was named one of the UNSW Law Deans Women of Excellence. She was the first Aboriginal person to be elected as Vice-President (Social Justice) of the UNSW Law Society and was the founding director of the UNSW Law First Peoples Moot that is the first of its kind in Australia. Teela was the inaugural recipient of the NSW Indigenous Barristers Trust award. Previously, Teela was Australia’s Female Indigenous Youth Delegate to the United Nations Permanent Forum in New York that inspired her journey to become a lawyer.
Prior to changing to a career in law, Teela was a high school PE teacher, obtaining a double degree in a Bachelor of Secondary Education/Bachelor of Health from The University of Newcastle where she also studied abroad in Canada at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. 

Upon graduating law, Teela was appointed tipstaff to her Honour Justice Lucy McCallum of the NSW Supreme Court. She is now a solicitor with experience practicing in criminal, civil and administrative law. 
In 2017, Teela was selected to attend Harvard University as a global Emerging Leader. On her return to Australia, Teela fearlessly took then Prime Minister Turnbull to task on Q&A after his dismissal of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Melanie Gentgall

Melanie Gentgall

Melanie is a Registered Nurse by profession, whose extensive experience includes working in the NT, providing dialysis and renal transplant care to local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and supporting research undertaken by groups such as Menzies.

The last 20 years of her career have been spent largely within the Australian Clinical Trials environment across various roles, including the establishment of a Phase 1 Clinical Trials Unit for the University of Adelaide.

She is a passionate and dedicated research advocate who is committed to improving access to education and training of the highest quality for the entire Australian research sector. This is made possible through her current role as founding CEO of PRAXIS Australia, an NFP and registered charity, recognised as a leader in the Australian HREC, research and clinical trials education sector.  

Melanie has been an active member of several Australian HRECS since 2009 .

Caroline Hughes

Caroline joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2019 as a lay person.

Dr Margaret Raven

Margaret joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2017 as a researcher.

Cheyne Halloran

Cheyne joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2019 as a lay person


Members must demonstrate a commitment to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and be able to communicate sensitively and effectively. This commitment will be shown by their capacity to:

  • Understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures;
  • Identify issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today; and
  • Communicate respectfully.

Members of the committee are appointed for three years in line with the categories established by the National Health and Medical Research Council. Applicants must apply under one of the following categories:

  • Researcher – Persons with knowledge of, and current experience in, research with or about Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Practitioner – Knowledge of, and current experience in, the professional care, counselling or treatment of people.
  • Pastoral Care – an Indigenous Elder, current Minister of Religion or a person who performs a similar role in the community.
  • Lay Person – Persons with no affiliation to AIATSIS and who does not engage in medical, scientific, legal or academic work.
  • Lawyer – Persons who are legally trained or lawyers.
  • Chairperson - A person with suitable experience, who’s other responsibilities will not impair the Committees capacity to carry out its obligations under the National Statement;

Membership of the committee involves a minimum of eight meetings per year, held at AIATSIS or via teleconference, and an average preparation time of 3 to 4 hours per meeting. Meetings are usually for 1 day. The Committee also hosts workshops for researchers seeking to familiarise themselves with GERAIS. A modest sitting fee is payable for attendance of the meetings and workshops as well as recognition for preparation time. Members must have a registered ABN.

We are not currently recruiting members to the AIATSIS Research Ethics Committee. Positions may become available throughout the year and will be advertised on the AIATSIS website. If you would like to be considered for the next round of recruitment, please send us your CV and provide a one-page statement explaining why you would be the best person for this position. Please include the AIATSIS EOI cover sheet in your application.

For more information please get in touch via or (02) 6246 1161.

Last reviewed: 8 Jan 2020