Standards, compliance and planning

Earned autonomy pilot program

On this page:

Read about what the earned autonomy pilot program is and how it works.

Earned autonomy program participants

Following an assessment process, EPA selected 23 licensed sites to include in the earned autonomy pilot program (EAPP). The following businesses are members of the pilot program and operate these sites:

  • Alcoa
  • Barwon Region Water
  • BlueScope
  • Coliban Water
  • East Gippsland Water
  • Goulburn Valley Water
  • Melbourne Water
  • North East Water
  • Qenos
  • South East Water
  • Toyota
  • Wannon Region Water
  • Yarra Valley Water

Networking sessions summary

EPA and industry worked together using a co-design approach to explore the concept of earned autonomy for EPA licence holders.

The four networking sessions provided a platform for discussion amongst participants about aspects of the program, as well as opportunity to share and learn from each other through examples of good environmental citizenship.

The networking sessions and webinar were held over the course of the program (2015–16), as summarised below.

Session Results
(September 2015)
  • Agreed on five outcomes.
  • Discussed environmental citizenship concepts.
  • Discussed application and assessment processes.
(November 2015)
  • Agreed on need for change.
  • Discussed how to measure against outcomes.
  • Provided feedback on Scheduled Premises Regulations review: tiers for fees and conditions.
  • Peer learning: engagement.
(February 2016)
  • Learned about LORA.
  • Peer learning: environmental leadership.
  • Started conversations on future model.
(April 2016)
  • Held online for 11 participants.
  • Learned about EPA’s Citizen Science program.
  • Some participants had follow-up discussions.
(April 2016)
  • Recapped lessons from previous sessions.
  • Discussed value of webinars and other learning tools.
  • Developed a design brief for future models for earned autonomy.
  • Discussed topics for evaluation and monitoring.
  • Provided feedback to EPA about the process.
  • Appreciation ceremony with EPA CEO and Chairman.

Key outcomes of the pilot program

The EAPP desired outcomes for the program were developed with the EAPP participants in Workshop 1:

  1. The behaviours of program participants result in improved environmental performance.
  2. The program is attractive for businesses to participate in.
  3. The pilot identifies unintended consequences of the program and mitigates them appropriately over the course of the project.
  4. The pilot builds trust and support for earned autonomy programs in the broader community.
  5. EPA is able to more efficiently allocate scarce regulatory resources as a result of the program.

It soon became apparent that these outcomes could not be fully realised during a one-year pilot, and these would be the desired outcomes of any future model for earned autonomy. 

The EAPP participants developed a design brief for a future program. Some key elements of this are as follows:

  • Simplify the proposed three tiers to two streams – a corporate stream and a site-based stream.
  • Avoid or minimise the use of an application process, where possible, by using existing tools within EPA.
  • Maintain benefits such as fee reduction, streamlined approvals.
  • Explore further exemptions.
  • Acknowledge and use existing processes (used by EPA and industry) that assure good environmental performance.

The lessons from this pilot program will inform future strategic planning for earned autonomy approaches at EPA.

Page last updated on 10 Feb 2017