COVID-19 Safe Research

Researchers should continue to follow the directives and advice provided by authorities and the Vice-Chancellor in her regular updates and posted to the Staff Hub.

When planning research activities, in the first instance consideration should be made as to whether or not face-to-face research activities are absolutely necessary. Justification of the need for face-to-face research activities will need to be clearly articulated in an application to the HREC.

The risks posed by COVID-19 to vulnerable groups should be considered, as should the potential for members of groups not typically considered vulnerable to be regarded as such due to the risks posed to them by the COVID-19 virus.

Additionally, the safety measures required to ensure face to face research activities are carried out in a COVID-19 safe manner will need to be detailed in any application to the HREC. These may include but are not limited to:

* keep 1.5 metres away from others wherever possible;

* avoid physical greetings such as handshaking, hugs and kisses;

* promote good hand, sneeze and cough hygiene;

* avoid crowds – if you see a crowded space do not enter;

* avoid large public gatherings;

* practise good hygiene and regular hand washing and or use hand sanitiser;

* downloading the COVIDsafe app;

* excluding participants that display or indicate they have symptoms of fever, cough or cold-like symptoms.

The Federal Government outlines restrictions and recommendations on its COVID-19 website and information relevant to the different states is available from the Safe Work Australia site. Further guidance has been provided to universities with a guide published by Universities Australia; 'Principles and Protocols for Reducing the Potential Risk of COVID-19 Transmission at Universities'.

As a requirement for all face-to-face research activities to proceed, and to assist in contract tracing in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak, the University is required by the Australian Government to ensure a register of all those present is kept. Researchers are responsible for ensuring a register of all individuals present in face-to-face research activities is taken and for providing it to the University.

This register will not form part of the research being undertaken – ie should not be maintained as per existing policy regarding storage and maintenance of research data. Rather, it must be provided to the Research Integrity Ethics and Compliance Unit (RIECU) within 48 hours a face-to-face activity (this may mean that for some projects multiple registers need to be submitted

The information being collected in the register will only be used in the event of a suspected or confirmed outbreak of COVID-19 for the purposes of contact tracing. The register will be destroyed three months from the date of its submission. The COVID-19 Contact Tracing Register can be downloaded here.

Scanned copies of forms should be provided to Research Integrity Unit via email at within 48 hours of the relevant activity and hard copies then be posted to:

Manager Research Integrity Unit
Locked Bag 588
Wagga Wagga NSW 2678