/ Community Programs / Best Practices / Shaping Best Practices in Law

Shaping Best Practices in Law

Combining citizen science with advocacy and policy

The Port Phillip EcoCentre's multidisciplinary Impact Team leverages science, law and community to create effective environmental policies. Shaping best practices involves combining citizen science, policy and advocacy.

Recent changes to Victoria’s environmental laws offer a vital window to establish how citizen science and better knowledge-sharing might support putting new laws into practice, ultimately to protect and restore our environment more effectively.

With the support of The Ian Potter Foundation, we expanded our Port Phillip Baykeeper work into a multidisciplinary Impact Team to leverage science, law and our deep community connections to create more effective plans and policies for environmental care.

We bridge knowledge gaps by hosting conversations, conducting research, and providing in-house expertise including legal & policy, science, community engagement and education.

The Environment Protection Act 2017 (in effect from July 2021) now requires that entities must take reasonable action to prevent harm to environmental and human health, following the ‘state of knowledge’ in the relevant industry. This means if risk mitigation practices are known and reasonable, those practices are obligatory and enforceable without waiting to catch someone polluting.

This is called the ‘General Environmental Duty’ and it relies on test legal cases to establish precedents, and cases in turn rely on widespread knowledge of best practices. Therefore, the EcoCentre is working in partnership to facilitate and share best practices that align with long-term goals for biodiversity, healthy waterways, climate and the circular economy.

The EcoCentre and our wider partnership network is involved in a range of interesting projects – but we know that fragmented work cannot achieve change at scale. To integrate emerging knowledge and share data with those best placed to apply it, our Impact Team is regularly involved in:

  • Reviewing, developing and sharing best practices in citizen science
  • Collecting and sharing high-quality data (e.g. species surveys or pollution reports)
  • Convening learning forums and networks, such as our monthly Australian Waterkeepers network
  • Developing new cross-sectoral models for working together, such as our marine pest Rapid Response Teams based on collaboration between state and local government, not-for-profits, community, and dive industry
  • Meeting with industry representatives, EPA Victoria and environmental lawyers to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of current standard practices (such as how plastic feedstock is handled at factories) and to develop new guidelines and regulatory tools
  • Presenting to government decision-makers through reports, forums, written submissions and testimony

Each year we prepare a range of oral reports and written submissions on a range of public policy issues affecting local, state and national environmental matters.

Support our Impact Team and the Port Phillip Baykeeper by volunteering with us to help use key citizen science data to drive vital change with local, national and global agencies to continue to protect and conserve our Bay and planet.

Make a tax deductible donation of impact here or sign up to one of our upcoming events here.

The Port Phillip Baykeeper work is grateful for the support of The Ian Potter Foundation. 

The EcoCentre acknowledges the Kulin Nations, including the Yalukit Willam clan of the Boon Wurrung language group, traditional custodians of the land on which we are located.

We pay respects to their Elders past and present, and extend that respect to other First Nations and Elder members of our multicultural community.