The Centre for Evaluation and Research (the Centre) coordinates and manages the department's external research application (ERA) process.

External research application process

You must follow the Department of Health and Human Services (the department) external research application (ERA) process when requesting access to departmental resources, such as data, clients and staff, for the purposes of research. Please note, the ERA process does not apply to direct data requests from external organisations / individuals that are not associated with research projects.

For large and complex research projects, it is recommended that researcher(s) engage the Centre as early as possible to facilitate the ERA process.

As a guide, complete applications received by the Centre are generally reviewed within approximately 6-8 weeks. However, the review period will vary depending on the complexity of the project proposed.

Role of departmental contact person(s)

Applicants are required to nominate departmental contact person(s) in the ERA form. These departmental contact person(s) will 'sponsor' the research project. Their role can range from providing initial guidance to the researcher to facilitating access to departmental staff or data. The applicant needs to outline the agreed role of the nominated departmental contact person(s) in their ERA form.

If the research involves a particular region / area of the department, it is highly recommended that one of the nominated departmental contacts is from the specific region / area.

In most cases, the departmental contact person(s) would be involved in the review of the ERA.

Role of the chief investigator

The chief investigator nominated in the ERA needs to ensure that the research adheres to Victorian Government and other relevant policies and guidelines in the first instance.

All formal communication will be directed to the nominated chief investigator.

It is the chief investigator's responsibility to provide regular updates to the Centre. Once the research is complete, the chief investigator must provide the Centre with the final research output(s).

Student applications

All student applications must be clearly indicated on the ERA form.

The chief investigator must be the student themselves. The nominated associate researcher must include your supervisor. The Centre will contact the nominated supervisors of student research applications if it is unable to reach the students directly.

If the research project is longer than 12 months, regular updates must be provided to the Centre by the student. At the completion of the research, student(s) and their supervisor(s) are responsible for providing the Centre with progress updates and research outputs.

Assessment criteria

All applications are assessed based on the benefits delivered to the department's clients and business, according to the following criteria:

  • Alignment to one or more of the department’s strategic directions, reform areas or priority activities as outlined in the Department of Health and Human Services Strategic Plan
  • The benefits to the department gained from the activity
  • The extent of resourcing (staff, facilitation, data access) required to support the activity
  • The risks associated with supporting the activity
  • Duplication of effort, coordination with similar or complimentary activities
  • Dissemination strategy to provide evidence reports and tools to department staff and stakeholders.

The department supports activities that add value to the department's evidence base and can be applied to inform policy, program and service delivery directions. Applicants need to consider how they will deliver the findings of their evidence activity to relevant staff and stakeholders in the department, community service organisations, client groups and the community.

Approval from Human Research Ethics Committees

The external research application process is separate from the human research ethics committee (HREC) process. However, these two processes can occur simultaneously.

The Centre can provide conditional approval pending formal approval from HREC. Once the Centre has been provided with the HREC approval letter, it will issue a formal approval letter from the department.

Contact details

All queries in relation to the ERA process should be directed via email to CER@dhhs.vic.gov.au.