Introduction to the Office of the Conservation Regulator

The Office of the Conservation Regulator (OCR) was established by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) early in 2019 following an Independent Review of Timber Harvesting Regulation in Victoria’s public native forests (The Review).

The Review and DELWP’s Response to the Review were published on 15 March 2019.  These documents can be accessed on the Forests and Reserves website.

Our mission is to be an effective, trusted, best practice regulator

The OCR oversees regulatory functions in conservation and environment in the state of Victoria through:

  • educating the community about the laws governing conservation and environment protection in Victoria
  • providing guidance and support to encourage compliance
  • monitoring compliance with regulatory requirements and taking enforcement action against non-compliance.

The Chief Conservation Regulator

The Chief Conservation Regulator leads the OCR and is accountable for decision-making supporting the delivery of the DELWP’s key regulatory outcomes of:

  • Protected natural and heritage values
  • Equitable and safe access to public land and use of natural resources 

Scope of OCR Responsibilities

In the first phase of OCR establishment the Chief Conservation Regulator will be accountable for timber harvesting, biodiversity, fire prevention and land-use regulation.  

The Chief Conservation Regulator will also lead the OCR in its role to support the whole of DELWP in the continuous improvement of its regulatory performance. Working with other areas of the Department, the OCR will champion consistent application of the DELWP Regulatory Framework and assist in developing systems and capabilities that will underpin its function as an effective and transparent regulator.

Governance

An Independent Regulation Advisory Panel has been established to provide the Chief Conservation Regulator with independent expert advice on best practice approaches to regulating.

The Panel Members are: Jane Brockington, Peter Rozen QC and Adam Beaumont.

Jane Brockington

Jane is Principal at Bridging Policy and Practice management consultancy and a non-executive director.

Formerly, Jane was CEO of the Victorian Commission for Liquor and Gaming Regulation, CEO of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission and was instrumental in driving the regulatory reforms of the National Competition Policy by the National Competition Council.

Jane was a member of the 2018 Independent Review of Timber Harvesting Regulation panel, Deputy Chair of the 2015/16 Independent Ministerial Advisory Committee review of the Environment Protection Authority Victoria and assisted the Victorian Department of Education’s engagement with the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission.

Peter Rozen QC

Peter practises in occupational health and safety, coronial and industrial law at the Victorian Bar. He is a fellow of the Centre for Employment and Labour Relations Law at the University of Melbourne where he teaches Workplace Health and Safety Law in the Law faculty’s postgraduate studies program.

Peter was a member of the 2018 Independent Review of Timber Harvesting Regulation panel.  He has also been a consultant to the International Labour Organisation as well as to State, Territory and Commonwealth governments in the field of occupational health and safety law.

Peter is currently Senior Counsel assisting the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Adam Beaumont

Adam is Director at With Purpose Consulting.

Formerly, Adam was a Senior Manager at the Environment Protection Authority Victoria where he led the development and implementation of the Compliance and Enforcement Policy and supported the 2011 Compliance and Enforcement Review of EPA.

Adam was also Regional Director (Asia Pacific) at the Forest Stewardship Council and the co-founder and Chair of the Victorian Regulators Community of Practice where he continues to be a member as part of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government Steering Group for National Regulators Community of Practice.

DELWP Regulatory Framework

DELWP has a wide range of regulatory responsibilities and is committed to discharging these responsibilities to a high standard.  Our goal is to maximise compliance with the law, reduce harm and provide benefits to the environment and our community.

Regulatory structure

The DELWP Regulatory Framework describes the way we approach our regulatory responsibilities and sets out the DELWP's regulatory mission:

"To be an effective, trusted, best practice regulator".

The Framework also sets out the key principles for delivery of the OCR regulatory functions:

  • Outcome-focused
  • Risk-based
  • Intelligence-led and evidence based
  • Proportionate and graduated
  • Collaborative
  • Transparent
  • Safe.

Reg Framework wheel

Click here to access:

Regulatory Framework (PDF, 4.3 MB)

Regulatory Framework -  Accessible  (DOCX, 43.2 KB)

Compliance and Enforcement Policy

The OCR Compliance and Enforcement Policy is a key document supporting the implementation of the DELWP Regulatory Framework.

It describes how we will apply the law and exercise judgement and discretion in our compliance and enforcement activities; in particular how we:

  • encourage voluntary compliance with the law
  • use a range of compliance and enforcement tools we have at our disposal
  • consider the extent of culpability and harm in our enforcement approach.
  • At OCR, we work with co-regulators, regulated entities and the community to improve compliance with the laws we have powers to administer.  Our compliance strategy is based on these key approaches:

    • preventive work, such as raising awareness of the regulatory requirements and how to comply with them
    • monitoring and assessing compliance with regulatory requirements
    • taking action against non-compliance
    • responding to harmful events as they arise.

    Our responses to non-compliance are considered and graduated depending on the circumstances.

    Click here to access:

    Compliance and Enforcement Policy (PDF, 6.4 MB)

    Compliance and Enforcement Policy - Accessible (DOCX, 43.5 KB)

    2019-20 Regulatory Priorites 

    OCR is committed to regulating in a way that is risk-based and intelligence led. The 2019-20 Regulatory Priorities  have been determined based on our knowledge of environmental condition and environmental and compliance risks.

    Key regulatory risk areas identified for 2019-20 are:

    • Illegal campfires
    • Illegal take of firewood
    • Illegal vehicle uses on public land
    • Unauthorised timber harvesting in native forests

    The 2019-20 regulatory priorities plan further outlines regional priorities for compliance across the six DELWP regions.

    Working with co-regulators and our stakeholders, the OCR will use a range of tools including information, education, inspections, patrols and enforcement to align efforts to make a significant impact on these compliance risk over this financial year.  We will measure our efforts and seek to learn from our approaches over time.

    Click here to access:

    2019-20 Regulatory Priorities (PDF, 8.8 MB)

Statements of Regulatory Intent

Statements of Regulatory Intent provide a detailed explanation of how the OCR will use its powers to prevent and respond to breaches of the law in specific topic areas.

Statements of Regulatory Intent are being developed for our key areas of regulatory responsibility. They describe what we regulate in each area, what you can expect from us as a regulator and how we go about ensuring compliance with law - including the enforcement powers and tools that we may use under the current law.

Regulating Timber Harvesting in State Forest Under the Allocation Order

This Statement outlines the role of the OCR in regulating timber harvesting in State Forests under the Allocation Order and describes what the community and industry can expect from us as a regulator. Specifically, it describes how the OCR intends to use the regulatory tools that are available to it under the law.

A draft Statement was published on 22 March 2019 with feedback invited through an online EngageVic survey as well as through direct submissions to EngageVic and the OCR.  Sixty-two individuals responded to the survey and six submissions have been received from organisations and individuals. The survey was open for community and stakeholder input for eight weeks.

Click here to access:

Statement of Regulatory Intent for Regulating Timber Harvesting in State Forest under the Allocation Order (pdf)

Statement of Regulatory Intent for Regulating Timber Harvesting in State Forest under the Allocation Order (Accessible docx)

Engagement Report (pdf)

Engagement Report (Accessible docx)

Future Statements of Regulatory Intent

The OCR will be developing and publishing further statements of regulatory intent for future key regulatory responsibilities, including for:

  • Biodiversity – wildlife
  • Prevention of human-caused bushfires resulting from illegal and inappropriate use of fire
  • Preventing illegal recreational use of public land.

Draft Statements of Regulatory Intent for these topics will be released for public comment in the coming months.

Engagement Strategy

The OCR is committed to increase transparency about how we regulate and improve our relationships and engagement with stakeholders, the community and those we regulate.

The strategy  supports our commitment to the DELWP Community Charter. It outlines, why we engage, who we engage with and how we engage.

The OCR Engagement Strategy commits to OCR engaging to support identifying priorities, designing our regulatory interventions and supporting all stakeholders to comply with the law.  We will do this through planned consultations, workshops and events, but also through our everyday interactions when we go about our work.

Click here to access:

OCR Engagement Strategy (PDF, 1.8 MB)

OCR Engagement Strategy - Accessible (DOCX, 52.9 KB)

Stakeholder Reference Group

A Stakeholder Reference Group has been established to provide advice and support the Chief Conservation Regulator in being an effective, trusted, best practice regulator for the Victorian community and environment.

The Stakeholder Reference Group includes members who represent a range of perspectives:

Australian Trail Horse Riders AssociationCathy Giles
Australian Veterinary AssociationDavid Middleton
Environmental Justice AustraliaBrendan Sydes
Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner CorporationMike Nurse
Great Forest National ParkSarah Rees
JacobsDeb Neumann
 Local Government representativeLynlee Tozer
Victorian Association of Forest Industries IncTim Johnston
Victorian Farmers FederationGerry Leach
Victorian National Parks AssociationMatt Ruchel
Wildlife of the Central Highlands (WOTCH)Justin Cally
Wildlife VictoriaMeghan Davidson

The Stakeholder Reference Group will provide advice to the Chief Conservation Regulator on:

  • supporting the development of robust understanding of the drivers (reasons) that lead to breaches of regulations and how the regulator can address them
  • supporting the design and delivery of an effective mix of regulatory activities in accordance with current legislation
  • providing feedback on our communication and engagement approach
  • prioritising effort across a diverse range of regulatory obligations
  • providing feedback on the effectiveness of the regulatory and opportunities for improvement.

Page last updated: 26/08/19