The Environment Protection Amendment Act 2017 (the Act) came into effect on 1 July 2021. It is:

Focus on prevention

The general environmental duty (GED) is central to the new Act and applies to all Victorians. You must reduce the risk of any activities which may harm the environment or human health through pollution or waste.

Occupational health and safety (OHS) laws, which many businesses use and are familiar with, was the template for building the GED.

Video transcript

Victoria’s environment protection laws have changed and we all have a part to play.

The new laws introduce the general environmental duty, your responsibility to prevent harm from pollution and waste.

Complying begins with understanding your level of risk. Then taking action to minimise harm from any of your activities. For smaller businesses, this could be as simple as basic staff training.

EPA has advice and information to help you comply. Find out how the general environmental duty is changing the way Victorians do business.
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Flexible and risk-based

The new Act has a more flexible approach to issues of compliance. As far as reasonably practicable, you must reduce your activities’ levels of risk to human health and the environment.

Businesses will have to manage risks specific to their sites. Individuals will have a duty to prevent harm from their activities. They’ll also have stronger rights to protect their interests.


EPA embeds our values of openness and accountability in the service we provide to the Victorian community.

The Act makes sure the public can access more environmental information. This means EPA can help you better understand the state of the environment and how we make regulatory decisions.

Focus on justice

The Act contains a greater range of penalties. It allows for review of decisions and encourages broader participation in decision making.

Courts will be able to order offenders to repay profits resulting from prior illegal activity. They can also order offenders to take part in a community project.

Read more about protecting the environment and human health

What the new Act means for Victorian businesses

What the new Act means for the Victorian community

We all have a duty to prevent harm: general environmental duty

Reviewed 16 June 2022