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Benchmarking Investigations Survey now live!

04/09/2020

The Victorian Game Management Authority (GMA) is undertaking a ‘Benchmarking Project’ with Australian and international regulators. Some of the key outcomes of this project are associated with opportunities to learn from other organisations and to develop definitions, principles, practices and key performance indicators that are not only representative of existing ‘best practices’, but also in line with GMA’s key goals of being innovative, collaborative and outcomes focused.

The Benchmarking Investigations Survey is now live. Your participation in the survey would be greatly appreciated.

The survey will take about 15 minutes to complete. It is divided into five sections:

  • Section 1. Definitions and Administrative Information
  • Section 2. Involvement With Investigations
  • Section 3. Resource Related Information
  • Section 4. Outcomes of Serious/ Significant Investigations
  • Section 5. Additional Comments.  

The survey is open to Australian and international regulators until 30 September 2020

If you have any questions or feedback about the survey, please contact paul.x.stevens@gma.vic.gov.au

Thank you to all those who can take the time to participate.

Take the survey now

Victorian Game Management Authority introduces body-worn cameras

26/08/2020

As part of the Victorian Game Management Authority's (GMA) plan to strengthen its operational and surveillance capacity, all authorised GMA Game officers are now equipped with new high-tech body-worn cameras (BWCs). The GMA’s Authorised Officers are now using the BWCs to improve evidence gathering in situations such as approaching and engaging alleged offenders caught illegally spotlighting deer, exceeding bag limits on game ducks and shooting protected species.

The GMA undertook extensive research into BWCs and found that the Axon Body 2, which is a wearable camera system incorporating an audio and video recording device, was the most appropriate model for the GMA’s purposes.

The camera provides high quality audio and video recording capabilities. Mobile phones can be paired with the BWC, and a mobile phone app, called Axon View, is used to monitor and save video footage.

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Through Axon View Authorised Officers can:

  • adjust user settings
  • live view instantly
  • playback recorded media
  • add information to the recording in the field to reduce additional paperwork required at the end of a shift.

The recorded footage is stored on a cloud-based digital evidence management system. This system allows for a ‘forensic fingerprint’ of each evidence file and tamper proof evidence audit records. The evidence management system also allows the sharing of footage within the GMA and with other trusted agencies, including Victoria Police, via a secure link. Photos taken by members of the community who report alleged illegal hunting offences can be saved to evidence management system and stored within the database for inclusion on case files and information reports.

The GMA’s Authorised Officers can also capture photos, video and audio with their mobile phones, and using the mobile app, securely upload these files to the evidence management system. In equipping GMA Authorised Officers with BWCs, the GMA was mindful of the risks associated with the privacy of community members, particularly in the context of inadvertently capturing footage or recordings of people not involved in a GMA enquiry i.e. if our Officers walk past a group of people conversing while approaching an offender.

At all times, the GMA maintained a conscious effort to ensure the use of the new BWCs meant that Authorised Officers could still comply with the Surveillance Devices Act 1999

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Recent amendments to the Act ensure that police, ambulance officers and other prescribed persons do not commit this offence inadvertently, while carrying out their duties. The GMA obtained legal advice from the Victorian Government Solicitors Office on how best to ensure that GMA Authorised Officers could also be protected from any breach of the Act. This risk was removed by making a recommendation under s 37A of the Act to the Governor in Council (GIC) to make regulation with respect to prescribing a GMA Authorised Officer as a prescribed person for the purpose of the of the Act. The BWCs are part of the Victorian Government's $6 million boost over four years to increase GMA staff, provide new equipment, increase research capacity, conduct education campaigns and develop a new online Game Licensing System.

Asbestos removalist gets suspended sentence for assault but company fined for illegal stockpiles

12/08/2020

Source: ABC News

A South Australian waste removalist convicted of assaulting two environment protection officers has been given a suspended sentence, but his company has been fined $49,000 for illegally storing more than 17 tonnes of asbestos.

The Environmental, Resources and Development Court heard Gavin Piller snatched a camera and audio recorder from the hands of the officers from SA's Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

The court heard Piller's company, GP and Sons, had a history of complaints dating back to August 2015, when the EPA attended one of the company's sites to discuss concerns over a large amount of dust causing an environmental nuisance.

EPA chief executive Tony Circelli said Piller's punishment sent a strong message to "anyone attempting to intimidate or assault EPA officers during the course of their duties".

He said the EPA officers were documenting the contents of two skip bins containing wrapped and unwrapped asbestos on April 3, 2018 at Largs Bay when they were abused and attacked.

"This type of illegal activity will not be tolerated — it risks both harm to the environment and the community, and damages confidence for investment and fair play for legitimate waste operators," he said.

Piller wrote a letter of apology addressed to the court, the EPA and its officers, expressing regret and accepting "full responsibility for his poor and unacceptable behaviour that afternoon".

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Latest Network News - July

10/08/2020

The latest AELERT Newsletter is out now! Click the link below to hear updates from the Steering Committee and read about what our member agencies have been up to. 

Read more

Open for consultation: Draft Asbestos-Cement (AC) Water and Sewer Pipe Management Guidelines

09/07/2020

In 2018, the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency released a report Case studies of asbestos water pipe management practicesThe report examined six cases of rehabilitating water and sewer pipes containing asbestos in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia and identified best practice for safe and effective management and removal. 

The report recommended that a clear, nationally consistent approach to managing asbestos cement water pipes is needed for cost-effectively managing approximately 40,000 km of water mains pipes and 5,000 km of sewer pipes containing asbestos cement across Australia. 

In response to that recommendation, the Agency developed the draft Asbestos-Cement (AC) Water and Sewer Pipe Management Guidelines, in collaboration with a working group representing industry, union and government officials. The draft Guidelines have now been released for public consultation. The Guidelines provide information on asbestos cement water and sewer pipe removal and remediation methods, and the issues that water agencies should consider in deciding how to safely manage AC water and sewer pipes.

Submissions are invited from the public, industry and government and must be submitted by 5pm on Friday 7 August 2020. Details on how to make a submission are included with the Guidelines.

Your feedback will help ensure the final version is useful and supports safe practices when managing and removing asbestos cement water pipes. Any queries about the public consultation can be sent to the Agency via email to engage@asbestossafety.gov.au

 

Find out more

 

Report: Money Laundering and the Illegal Wildlife Trade

07/07/2020

Source: FATF

25 June 2020 – The illegal wildlife trade is a major transnational organised crime, which generates billions of criminal proceeds each year. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has conducted a new study to provide guidance to countries on measures they can take to combat money laundering from the illegal wildlife trade.

Wildlife traffickers exploit weaknesses in the financial and non-financial sectors, to move, hide and launder their proceeds, enabling further wildlife crimes and damaging financial integrity. One of the most effective ways to identify the broader criminal networks and take the profit out of this crime, is to follow the financial trails of wildlife traffickers.

Despite the significant criminal gains involved, countries and private sector are not prioritising efforts to trace and combat financial flows from this trade in line with risk. 

To combat the financial flows from the illegal wildlife trade, countries should therefore as a priority:

  1. Identify and assess their money laundering risks relating to the illegal wildlife trade.
  2. Ensure that national laws and powers for law enforcement allow authorities to go after the finances of wildlife traffickers, and to pursue financial investigations.

The private sector also has an important role to play in combatting financial flows from illegal wildlife trade. This study therefore identifies good practices and risk indicators to assist private sector and countries to identify potential suspicious financial activity for the illegal wildlife trade.

This is the FATF's first global report on this topic. It draws on inputs and case studies from over 50 countries from across the FATF Global Network and observers, as well as civil society and the United for Wildlife Financial Taskforce. 

News: EPA officer punched during inspection

29/06/2020

Source: Adelaide Advertiser, Adelaide

by Elizabeth Henson 25 Jun 2020 General News - Page 13

A MAN punched an environment protection officer in the head during a heated confrontation at his family's Largs Bay demolition business.

The officer was one of three there investigating suspected illegal storage of asbestos.

Gavin Piller, 59, of St Peters, has pleaded guilty in the Environment, Resources and Development Court to two counts of assaulting an authorised officer, two of hindering an authorised officer and one of abusive language.

The charges stemmed from a violent altercation at GP and Sons Demolition on Jetty Rd on April 3, 2018.

A prosecutor said Mr Piller approached and swore at one of the officers, saying it was private property and "you can't take photographs". He then grabbed the officer's camera, injuring his wrist.

The situation escalated when the officer started filming Mr Piller on his phone. "Mr Piller grabbed (the officer) by the shirt-front, pushed him backwards and there was then a struggle; Mr Piller on top of (the officer), Mr Piller punching him to the side of his head, knocking off his sunglasses," the prosecutor said.

The officer suffers ongoing psychiatric injuries.

Mr Piller's lawyer said he was a "hardworking, community-minded family man" who had been working in Lobethal for months because GP and Sons Demolition had been contracted by the State Government to clear buildings destroyed in the Adelaide Hills bushfires.

"It's abundantly clear (in Mr Piller's letter of apology) that my client has insight into the offence in 2018 and is extremely remorseful and he is disappointed in himself because he had a good working relationship with the SA Government and at that time the EPA" he said.

The matter was adjourned until August for sentencing.

Conference Webinars Available

27/04/2020

There’s never been a better time to get into online learning than while we're all in COVID-19 lockdown. Thanks to the variety of knowledge sharing and capacity building at our recent conference, AELERT has you covered. You can now access recorded presentations online at any time, simply logon with your member details here: www.aelert.net/resource/view/577

Let us know your favourite speaker or biggest learning!

New Chair for AELERT!

27/04/2020

It is with great pleasure that the AELERT Steering Committee and Secretariat welcome Monica Collins into the role of Chair. Monica works as the Assistant Secretary for the Environment Compliance Branch, in the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. Monica has been the AELERT Vice-Chair for the past three years and has been acting as the Chair for the last 5 months.

Monica was a great support to the Secretariat in the lead up to and during the recent joint conference with INECE. Her guidance has been invaluable to the AELERT network so far and will further guide us over the coming years.

Monica Collins joined the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Energy as Head of the Environment Compliance Branch in 2016. In this role Monica has transformed the Department’s approach to compliance, implementing a risk-based and intelligence led model with a focus on delivering environmental outcomes through a broad range of compliance tools. Under this new model, the team has a proud track record of sensible compliance outcomes, from criminal and civil prosecutions, through to working with regulatory partners to improve voluntary compliance in response to emerging compliance risks.

Monica most recently worked with the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage and has more than 25 years’ experience working in the environment and natural resources management sector. 

Monica has worked in environmental regulation, compliance and enforcement, community engagement, and environmental program delivery roles, including in the Murray-Darling Basin, biodiversity and threatened species programs, environmental impact assessment, kangaroo management, floodplain and coastal erosion management, forestry regulation, renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. Monica also brings significant experience in managing regulatory reform and change management.

“It is an honour and a privilege to take on the role of AELERT Chair! I am looking forward to continuing the great work of AELERT through the Steering Committee, our Working Groups and Communities of Practice. I want to take the time to recognise that all of these members volunteer their time and expertise to this great network.

“I am passionate about capability building and collaborating amongst regulators to enhance the environmental outcomes we are tasked with delivering, and to work together to solve emerging issues. Over the past few years I have seen the level of engagement increasing significantly across the AELERT network, and this is what AELERT is all about.

“I extend a big thank you to our out-going Chair Mark Gifford who has been actively involved with the AELERT for over ten years and has certainly helped drive the network to where it is today. Mark is a passionate regulator and I have no doubt we will continue to see him involved with AELERT”.

2020 Conference Debrief

03/04/2020

The AELERT biannual conference recently took place from 10-13 March 2020 in sunny Adelaide, SA and we are happy to report that it was a great success. The conference has always been a unique opportunity to come together and share experiences, knowledge and expertise. Partnering with INECE this year broadened the opportunity across the international community to cooperate and build capacity in ways that are rarely possible for environmental regulators.

Our main objective was to learn from each other by sharing best practice and innovation as well as hearing views from countries in different stages of development. Around 20% of our audience were international delegates, flying in from countries such as Thailand and Morocco. In total we had over 330 delegates with representation from over 30 countries – not bad considering the battle against bushfires and early emergence of COVID-19 in the lead up to the conference! Our Buddy Scheme connected many of our international guests with AELERT members as a way of welcoming each other and to start conversations that we hope reached beyond the limits of our conference.

The three INECE courses on offer provided delegates with an opportunity to refresh their thinking on performance measurements and exposure to new and innovative approaches in environmental compliance. We also held a series of workshops including one from the popular Intelligence and Analysis Community of Practice. Highlights from a few jam-packed days included a session on ‘Being a Modern Regulator’, a round table discussion between the Superintendency of Environment Chile and the Flemish High Enforcement Council and multiple presentations on ‘Engaging the Public and Community Involvement’.

We finished up with a powerful closing from Brian Gilligan, an environmental regulator with over 50 years’ experience as a public servant. Brian left our audience challenged with his presentation ‘Regulation and Public Service in an Era of Policy Dysfunction’. Take a look at the full presentation and view his report here.

A wide range of abstract submissions to participate in the conference were received, including topics on wildlife, biodiversity and conservation, waste, pollution, marine environment, biosecurity, climate change and much more, at all levels of government and across a range of agencies. It was this variety of practice areas that enabled us to strike a balance between technical and operational topics and broader policy and strategic discussions in the conference program. We extend our thanks to all of those that submitted an abstract and everyone that participated in our conference.

Of course, we also had a lot of help putting the conference together and our volunteer working groups also deserve a big shout out for dedicating their time and assisting in every way they could. A special thanks to AELERT members; Alice Turnbull, Amiette Wakenshaw, Belinda Walker, Hanna Kogelman, Heike Eberhard, Paul Newell, Robert Deves, Stuart Cowie, Kieran Lynch, Heidi Ward and Kevin Rowley, as well as our Community of Practice Chairs for all of your contributions.

Our next conference is due to take place in Perth, WA in 2022 – although this years’ will be a tough one to beat!