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
- Sustainable communities – social, economic and environmental.
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.
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 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 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.
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:
- Intelligence-led and evidence based
- Proportionate and graduated
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:
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:
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.
Annual state-wide and regional compliance plans
The OCR will publish State and Regional Compliance Plans annually. These plans will identify the regulatory priorities in the areas of highest risk of harm to the environment. Internal annual work programs to prioritise and direct resources will support these plans.
The first Annual Plan is currently being developed and will be published here once finalised.
Community and Stakeholder Engagement
The OCR works with the community, Traditional Owners, stakeholders and co-regulators to more effectively achieve its regulatory outcomes.
Under the OCR Regulatory Framework, our approach to collaborating and engaging with the community is guided by the DELWP Community Charter where we put the community at the centre of everything we do.
The OCR is developing an Engagement Strategy to guide the way we work with all Victorians in a transparent, inclusive and professional manner.
When the OCR Engagement Strategy is finalised we will publish it here.
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 Association
Australian Veterinary Association
Environmental Justice Australia
Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporation
Great Forest National Park
Local Government representative
Victorian Association of Forest Industries Inc
Victorian Farmers Federation
Victorian National Parks Association
Wildlife of the Central Highlands (WOTCH)
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: 08/08/19