What is the Wildlife Act 1975?
The Wildlife Act sets the rules around how we protect, conserve, sustainably manage and use wildlife in Victoria.
Why is the Wildlife Act being reviewed?
The Wildlife Act has not been comprehensively reviewed since it became law more than 45 years ago. Since then, community values and expectations around wildlife have changed. It is now outdated and out of step with modern best practice regulation. This review will provide recommendations to update the Act so that it provides a best practice regulatory framework, operates consistently with other legislation related to wildlife and reflects contemporary values and expectations.
In May 2020, the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change announced a comprehensive review of the Wildlife Act.
What is the review process?
1. Expert Advisory Panel appointed
The first stage of the review was led by an independent Expert Advisory Panel.
The Panel held expertise across a range of topics, including agricultural, environmental and natural resource economics, strategic, regulatory and legislative reform, wildlife ethics and welfare, ecological research and an understanding of Traditional Owner and Aboriginal Victorian rights and cultural values.
What did the Panel consider?
The Panel examined:
- whether the Act’s objectives and scope are appropriate, comprehensive and clear.
- whether the Act establishes a best-practice regulatory framework for achieving its objectives.
- whether the Act appropriately recognises and protects the rights and interests of Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians around wildlife and their role in decision-making.
- the best way to encourage compliance with the Act, including whether offences and penalties under the Act are appropriate to punish and deter wildlife crime.
In its review, the Panel considered:
- contemporary values and expectations around wildlife
- the need to protect and conserve wildlife and to prevent wildlife from becoming extinct
- interests in sustainable use of, and access to, wildlife
- the role of wildlife in the cultural practices and beliefs of Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians
- the impact of wildlife on agriculture and other activities
- the impact of eco-tourism and other activities on wildlife
- the benefits of activities which foster an appreciation of wildlife
- emerging issues affecting wildlife protection and conservation, sustainable use and access
- any gaps due to changes to other legal frameworks or policy settings
- insights from reviews of similar legislation
- the most appropriate and effective way to encourage compliance and punish wildlife crime.
The Panel focused on the terms of reference. Some issues although they may be important, will necessarily fall outside the scope of the review either because they are not central to the operation of the Act or because other reviews are already considering them.
Accordingly, the Panel did not consider:
- how DELWP and other responsible organisations administer the Act, including their policies, organisational structures and procedures
- the regulations under the Act
- topics regulated by other Victorian legislation or are covered by other legislative reform projects, such as:
- arrangements for declared wildlife emergencies, such as whale entanglements, bushfire and marine pollution regulated under the Emergency Management Act 2013
- cruelty offences that are part of the current reform of Victoria’s animal welfare legislation
- land classification (State Wildlife Reserves and other categories Parts II and V of the Wildlife Act) which are being considered as part of the Victorian Government’s proposed reforms for public land legislation.
The Panel was not asked to consider whether the current range of activities permitted by the Act should or should not be changed.
2. Stakeholder and community consultation
The Panel held an extensive community consultation period from April to June 2021 via Engage Victoria. All stakeholders, along with the broader Victorian community, were invited to get involved and have their say.
The Panel also engaged extensively by:
- seeking advice and input from the general community, Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians, key interest groups, government bodies and relevant experts
- considering and reporting on the views and information provided in consultations and submissions.
3. Panel's report to the Minister
The Panel delivered its report to the Minister on the findings of their review in December 2021. This report will be made publicly available at a later date.
4. Victorian Government Response
The Victorian Government is currently preparing its response to the Panel’s report.
The response will set out directions for reforming Victoria’s wildlife legislation and is planned to be released along with the Panel report. Given the importance and complexity of this review, time and care is being taken to prepare the Government response. It will be shared with the public once it is available.
The Victorian Government would like to acknowledge and thank the many organisations and individuals who have contributed their time and ideas to the review.
There will be further opportunities for stakeholder engagement as the policy for reforming Victoria’s wildlife laws is further developed.
Find out more
To find out more, and to register to receive updates on the review, visit Engage Victoria.
Page last updated: 07/09/22