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 It is now outdated and out of step with modern best practice regulation.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.

The first stage of the review is being led by an independent expert panel.

What is the review process?

1. Independent expert advisory panel appointed

The independent Panel comprises four members with expertise across a range of topics.

Meet our panel:

Dr Deborah Peterson (Chairperson). Deborah is an eminent agricultural, environmental and natural resource economist, and has extensive experience working in both the private and public sector.

Associate Professor Ngaio Beausoleil. Ngaio is Co-Director of the Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre, Massey University, New Zealand and an expert in wildlife welfare and ethics.

Dr Jack Pascoe. Jack is a Yuin man living in Gadabanut country with expertise in ecological research and experience working closely with Traditional Owners and Aboriginal Victorians.

Emeritus Professor Arie Freiberg AM. Arie has extensive experience and expertise in regulatory reform and is Chair of the Victorian Sentencing Advisory Council.

What are the panel considering?

The Panel will examine:

  • 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 will consider:

  • 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 will focus 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 will 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 has not been asked to consider whether the current range of activities permitted by the Act should or should not be changed.

There may be occasions where a stakeholder or member of the community raises issues in their submissions  outside the Panel’s terms of reference. Where appropriate, the Panel may bring these submissions to the attention of DELWP for further consideration.

2. Stakeholder and community consultation

The Panel wants to hear from you. All stakeholders, along with the broader Victorian community, can get involved and have their say.

The Panel will engage 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 delivers recommendations to Minister

The Panel will report to the Minister on the findings of their review by the end of August 2021. This report will be made publicly available at a later date.

4. Directions paper consultation

DELWP will develop a directions paper in early 2022.  This paper will outline what the Victorian Government is proposing to change, based on the recommendations of the panel. Our stakeholders and community will be asked to share their thoughts and provide feedback on this document.

5. Final directions paper

DELWP will present a final directions paper by July 2022. This paper will outline what changes should be made to the Act.

Wildlife Act review project timelines graphic

Help shape the future of Victoria’s Wildlife Act

Have your say on the way wildlife is protected, conserved, managed and sustainably used, and help us create a new, best practice Wildlife Act.

Submissions to the Panel are now open on Engage Victoria, and will close on Wednesday 9 June 2021.

Find out more

To find out more, and to register to receive updates on the review, visit Engage Victoria.

Page last updated: 28/04/21