What do Victoria’s new environment protection laws mean for you?

Watch the video of What do Victoria’s new environment protection laws mean for you? held on Wednesday 21 April 2021.

View the video of the panel discussion.

Victoria’s new environment protection laws will come into effect from 1 July 2021. This will bring about significant changes in how pollution is regulated in Victoria. The Environment Protection Authority Victoria will have increased powers to prevent harm to the environment and public from pollution and waste including enforcing stronger penalties for polluters. Victorians will also have a duty to understand the risks that their activities cause to the environment and human health and will be required to take practicable steps to prevent their actions from causing harm. It will be the first time in Australia that this ‘General Environmental Duty’ is criminally enforceable.

So, what will this mean for business and the community? And how will it impact water and soil quality?

Panelists

Associate Professor Suzie Reichman

Centre for Anthropogenic Pollution Impact and Management Director, The University of Melbourne

Associate Professor Suzie Reichman joined the University of Melbourne in June 2020 as Director of the Centre for Anthropogenic Pollution Impact and Management (CAPIM). Suzie is enjoying the challenge of reinvigorating and broadening CAPIM to include water, soil, air and waste related contamination. From 2010 to 2020, she was a Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor in the School of Engineering at RMIT University. Suzie has also worked for the Environment Protection Authority Victoria, the University of California and Lincoln University (New Zealand) and graduated in 2002 with her PhD in mining remediation from the University of Queensland. Suzie is an expert in soil chemistry, ecotoxicology, and environmental risk assessment. Her research has been incorporated into government guidelines for deriving background concentrations in soil and for legacy contamination in urban vegie gardens. Suzie is currently undertaking research to help establish soil quality guidelines for Antarctica.

Dr Paul Leahy

Senior Fresh Water Scientist, Environment Protection Authority, Victoria

Dr Paul Leahy has spent 17 years at Environment Protection Authority in a variety of science and leadership positions. Paul has an in-depth knowledge on water pollution, including monitoring, risk assessment and emerging contaminants. Paul is the Victorian representative for the technical review and approval of the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality. As a member of the National Chemical Working Group (NCWG), Paul has contributed to the development of the National Environment Management Plan for PFAS. Paul is currently leading work on ambient levels of PFAS in the environment and the development of a national emerging contaminants strategy. Paul’s current research interests include emerging contaminants in the environment, environmental pollutants from wastewater and the assessment of PFAS in the environment.

Dr Bram Mason

Principal Environmental Sustainability, Melbourne Water

Dr Bram Mason is the Environmental Sustainability Principal for Melbourne Water. He is a qualified government investigator, trainer, incident manager and GAICD. Bram worked with DELWP regulating major projects, leading various teams and managing recovery programs. He is also an experienced executive holding positions as Principal, Director, General Manager and CEO. He recently he moved to Melbourne Water to lead sustainability responsibilities, aspirations, and goals. These include commitments to no long-term environmental harm from Melbourne Water’s activities and making the Melbourne region a more liveable place. Bram is leading the change of management process for informing and updating business processes and people to the responsibilities and approaches required under the new Act and regulations. Bram views the new Act and Regulations as critical for the sustainable management of the environment and hopes the changes will create a resilient environment able to adapt with a changing climate.

Dr Jess Drake

Environmental Regulation & Soil Scientist, Murrang Earth Sciences

Dr Jess Drake is a self-confessed regulation nerd. Her 15+ year career in waste, soils and organic amendments has led her to develop a deep love of environmental regulation science. Jess doesn’t just work with regulation; she is fascinated by the science-policy nexus: how science can inform policy and regulatory decisions. Her work focuses on achieving the best possible technical and regulatory outcomes for environment, community, business and regulators through evidence and practical risk-based approaches. Jess has worked for Environment Protection Authority Victoria, where she contributed to the PFAS NEMP, the new Victorian SEPP Waters, and waste to land research. She now works at Murrang Earth Sciences where she provides environmental regulation science advice to industry, community, businesses and government.

Associate Professor Anthony Boxshall (Chair)

Enterprise Fellow, The University of Melbourne

A marine ecologist by trade, Associate Professor Anthony Boxshall is adept in leading and governing within scientific and technically complex challenges. With more than 20 years’ experience in leadership Anthony has deep regulatory experience as a former head of the Science part of Environment Protection Authority Victoria, is a current Melbourne Enterprise Fellow (Integrative Environmental Research), Chair of the Victorian Marine & Coastal Council, Parks Victoria Board member, and Principal & Founder of Science into Action – his own science impact company.