What we do

In 2003, the first Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability was appointed after the Victorian Parliament passed the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Act. Dr Gillian Sparkes is Victoria’s third Commissioner.

The Commissioner’s role is to provide independent and objective scientific reporting to inform policy-makers, scientists and the wider Victorian public on the state’s natural environment.

According to the Act, the Commissioner’s role is to:

  • review and report on the condition of Victoria’s environment
  • encourage decision-making that facilitates ecologically sustainable development
  • enhance knowledge and understanding of issues relating to ecologically sustainable development and the environment, and
  • encourage Victorian and local governments to adopt sound environmental practices and procedures.

 

The Commissioner does this by:

Since 2015, the Commissioner has been referenced for seven new reporting functions for the first time since the role was established in 2003. This new framework for environmental reporting reform in Victoria, State and Benefit, was tabled in Parliament in December 2015. It starts to align Victoria’s approach to environmental reporting with international frameworks including the United Nation’s System of Environmental Economic Accounts (SEEA) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Read the updated Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Act 2003 (2017)

The functions of the Commissioner include to —

(a) prepare the Report on the State of the Environment of Victoria;

(b) prepare a report on—

     (i) the environmental condition of Yarra River land; and

     (ii) how the environmental condition of Yarra River land has changed since the last report on Yarra River land;

(c) conduct annual strategic audits of, and prepare reports on, the implementation of environmental management systems by Agencies and public authorities;

(d) advise the Minister in relation to any matter relating to ecologically sustainable development referred to the Commissioner by the Minister under section 10(2); (e) administer this Act.

 

Since 2015, the reporting functions of the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability extend past ‘state of’ to performance reporting functions including:

Specific environmental incidents or situations are managed and reviewed by either the Environment Protection Authority, Victoria or the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning or other appropriate government agency. The Commissioner can be directed by the Minister according to section 10 of the Act.

Our work with the Minister

The Commissioner provides advice to the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Hon Lily D’Ambrosio MP and prepares reports according to the Act.

By approval of the Minister, the Commissioner will:

  • create a framework for the five-yearly State of the Environment Report
  • must prepare and submit to the Minister a periodical Report on the State of the Environment of Victoria
  • prepare and submit to the Minister a periodical report on the environmental condition of Yarra River land.
  • appoint committees for the purpose of providing advice to the Commissioner, and
  • establish a Reference Group for the purpose of providing advice to the Commissioner in respect of the performance of the functions of the Commissioner.

Commissioner's Reference Group

The Commissioner's Reference Group provides advice and support to the Commissioner. The Reference Group is comprised of non-government members, identified and invited by the Commissioner, with a range of interests and expertise that support the work of the Office. The members represent a broad range of interests including environmental and industry associations and/or representatives, traditional owner and community, local government, energy and primary industries.