Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, December 2011
Compliance monitoring and auditing
This fact sheet provides an overview of the compliance monitoring and auditing program in place for projects referred under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and permits granted under the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981 (the Sea Dumping Act).
What is the EPBC Act?
The EPBC Act is Australia's key national environment law. Under the EPBC Act, proposals which are likely to have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance (NES) must be referred, assessed, and a decision made by the Minister or his delegate on whether to approve the proposal. For more information about the EPBC Act environment assessment process refer to www.environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/pubs/assessment-process.pdf
What is the Sea Dumping Act?
The Sea Dumping Act regulates the loading and dumping of waste at sea. The Sea Dumping Act fulfils Australia's international obligations under the London Protocol to prevent marine pollution by dumping of wastes and other matter.
Permits are required from the department for all ocean disposal activities, which include:
- the creation of artificial reefs
- dumping of vessels, platforms or other man-made structures
- burials at sea
For more information about the Sea Dumping Act refer to www.environment.gov.au/coasts/pollution/dumping/act.html.
What is the monitoring and audit program for?
The department has implemented a program of monitoring and auditing projects that have been referred under the EPBC Act and the Sea Dumping Act to ensure they are complying with their approval/permit conditions or requirements and the legislation. Monitoring and compliance audits aim to ensure projects with the potential to impact on nationally protected matters are implemented as planned. Monitoring and compliance audits help the Australian Government to understand how well conditions/requirements are being understood and applied, and contribute to improving the effectiveness of the department's operations.
Why monitor compliance?
The aim of monitoring compliance is to gather information on levels of compliance; to communicate the findings; and, if necessary, to recommend appropriate corrective or enforcement action.
Inspections are part of the department's monitoring regime. Monitoring also involves regular contact with project personnel to ensure projects are in line with Australian Government environmental requirements.
What is a monitoring inspection?
A monitoring inspection is less formal and less extensive than an audit and involves a site visit to ensure the project complies with the set conditions or any requirements that can be readily assessed on site. Usually a monitoring inspection will not involve a formal review of documentation and records. By intervening early it is less likely that serious non-compliance issues will arise inadvertently.
Monitoring also demonstrates to the community that there are systems in place for measuring and improving compliance, and increases community confidence in the regulatory system.
What is a compliance audit?
A compliance audit is an objective assessment of a project's compliance against selected criteria. Projects are audited against the conditions or requirements that were set when the project was approved (under the EPBC Act) or the permit granted (under the Sea Dumping Act).
A compliance audit usually takes the form of a desktop document review followed by a site inspection, if necessary. In some cases, the document review provides the department with enough information to verify that a project is compliant with conditions or requirements.
If your project is selected for an inspection or an audit, you will be contacted by a departmental officer who will outline the process and explain any requirements.
Who will be monitored and audited?
Monitoring and auditing is carried out on projects across all areas including mining and energy, government, transport, ports and marine, urban development, tourism and recreation. Projects can be chosen for audit based on either a random selection process or a risk-focused selection process. Any project that has been referred under the EPBC Act or the Sea Dumping Act can be selected for audit.
All audit report summaries are posted on the department's website. The results of audits may also be publicised through the general media. This is to encourage best practice behaviour within the regulated community.
For further information on the monitoring and audit program, please contact:
The Director, Monitoring and Audit Section
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
CANBERRA ACT 2601
T 02 6274 1111
F 02 6274 1878