Pegasus Report Progress Reporting (1st quarter 2019)

In July 2017, the Game Management Authority (GMA) engaged Pegasus Economics to conduct an independent assessment of the effectiveness of GMA’s compliance and enforcement regime, the appropriateness of the operating model and the Authority’s capacity and capability to deliver its compliance and enforcement obligations.

The 2017 Pegasus Economics final report “Assessment of the GMA’s Compliance and Enforcement Function” (Pegasus Report) made 27 recommendations, 26 of which were supported in principle by the GMA Board. The GMA commenced addressing the 26 recommendations of the Pegasus Report in 2018. This initial report provides an update of activity against these recommendations. Progress reports will be provided quarterly on our website at www.gma.vic.gov.au

It is important to understand that although GMA supports in principle the 26 recommendations, several relate to matters of resource management or policy that are controlled by Departments other than the GMA. However, the GMA will work with the responsible bodies and seek to bring about change in these matters.

 RecommendationProgress
1.Effectiveness 
1.1The GMA should work with land management authorities to develop more flexible arrangements for land access based on permit and ballot systems that are widely deployed in other jurisdictions. Regulatory reform will need to be led by policy agencies.Preliminary discussions held with Parks Victoria, the land manager, on opportunities to consider approaches to managing hunter densities.
1.2Game hunting licences should include more stringent minimum mandatory requirements, including testing for knowledge of the game hunting laws and the obligations and responsibilities of safe and sustainable hunting.A new Game Licensing System is in development to cater for new Game Licence testing arrangements.  An Expression of Interest (EOI) process has been conducted and a preferred supplier identified.  A position description for a Project Officer to lead the development of a Game Licence Test has been prepared and will be released imminently.  Following appointment, a project plan will be prepared and implemented.  The GMA is exploring and evaluating systems and methods to conduct licence testing.
1.3There should also be a requirement that prospective duck hunters demonstrate their attendance at a Shotgunning Education Program (SEP) prior to the issue of a duck hunting licence and that similar courses be developed for the holders of other categories of hunting licences.The GMA engaged an external supplier to conduct market research into barriers and perceptions limiting participation in the current Shotgunning Education Program.  As a result, the GMA with the financial support of Sport and Recreation Victoria, has released an updated practical program titled Gamebird Hunting Essentials Masterclass.  This program was recently launched with associated marketing aimed at increasing voluntary participation.

The attendance cost for juniors to attend was also subsidised to encourage greater participation. The GMA is currently exploring the logistics for all new duck licensed holders to complete a mandatory SEP.
1.4Information and educational materials should be made available in languages that are relevant to the hunting community.Fact sheets on the arrangements for duck season were produced in five different languages (Italian, Greek, Maltese, Arabic and Lebanese) and placed on the GMA website.
1.5The GMA needs to significantly expand its monitoring and information gathering activities, including by enlisting the support of hunting organisations, animal welfare organisations and land holders in undertaking active and passive monitoring of game numbers and the effectiveness of its compliance and enforcement activities.The GMA is exploring the introduction of a single point for reporting complaints of alleged illegal hunting.  Two providers were spoken to in March 2019.

The GMA has responded to sightings of concentrations of rare and threatened species and coordinated counts to determine if any additional management action was required.

The GMA contracted NSW DPI to send two drone teams to Victoria for the opening weekend of the 2019 duck season to collect intelligence and test the use of drones under field conditions.
1.6The GMA should review the priority it attaches in its compliance and enforcement activities to protestor management.The GMA is in discussions with Victoria Police to develop an MOU with respect to hunting and protestor compliance.  Victoria Police has committed to being more active in protestor compliance allowing the GMA and its partner regulatory agencies to focus on hunter compliance.
1.7The GMA should seek to engage more constructively with stakeholders across a broader range of interests and values.The GMA has consulted with hunting, conservation and animal welfare organisations over the arrangements for the 2019 duck season and possible wetland closures.  The GMA has also consulted the RSPCA, Animals Australia and key duck hunting organisations over the development of advisory guidelines for the humane dispatch of downed waterfowl.  

The GMA has developed and is implementing a stakeholder engagement strategy.

The GMA has recommended the establishment of a stakeholder reference group to provide advice to government on game management policy.

A Communications Officer has been appointed and a Facebook page has been created.
1.8The GMA’s stakeholder engagement strategies and programs should be more clearly directed to achieving the active cooperation of its stakeholders in supporting a respectful, responsible and compliant hunting culture.See 1.7.
  
The GMA coordinates the RESPECT: Hunt Responsibly program in consultation with the hunting industry, hunting organisations and partner government agencies. This program identifies initiatives to encourage sustainable, safe and humane hunting.  

A guidance on humane dispatch of downed birds is being developed for hunters.
1.9The GMA should improve the transparency of its reporting and complaint handling mechanisms and ensure that arrangements are in place for all complaints to be logged, reviewed by a senior officer and responded to.The GMA has met with Animals Australia and Department of Jobs, Precincts and Region’s (DJPR) Prosecution Services on the merits and reporting needs for making formal complaints regarding alleged illegal hunting activities.  An expert review panel has been established to review such complaints and includes expertise on animal welfare, legal, compliance and prosecutions.

A new compliance case management system is being explored which will assist in logging, reviewing and reporting progress and outcomes to complainants
2Regulatory governance and approach to regulationProgress
2.1The GMA’s role as a regulator should be clarified and the independence of its licensing, compliance and enforcement functions protected.The GMA Board has developed a five (5)-year Charter, including Vision and Purpose Statements, that explicitly describe the GMA as a Regulator.  A 2019-20 business plan based on the revised Charter has been prepared and approved by the Minister for Agriculture.

A review of the GMA’s structure has been conducted and a comprehensive restructure, including the establishing new regional offices, has commenced.  Recruitment for several roles as part of this restructure has also commenced.
2.2Action not supported 
2.3The GMA should put in place appropriate governance arrangements, including operational separation, establishment of an Enforcement Committee and appropriate protocols, to provide additional transparency and protect the independence of its licensing, compliance and enforcement functions.The GMA has restructured to separate the compliance and intelligence functions from strategy and research and stakeholder and hunting programs functions and appointed a Director to lead the Compliance and Intelligence division.

Advice on the GMA’s standard operating procedures has been sought from the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office.  Advice on the outcomes of compliance complaints has been implemented.

A case management system is currently being considered and a single point to lodge complaints is being explored (see 1.9). A new Game Licensing System is being developed (see 1.2).
2.4The GMA should develop a more dynamic approach to compliance and enforcement that is informed by improved information on hunters’ understanding of their obligations and better targeted to secure improved compliance outcomes.A new Game Licensing System is in the early stages of development. A project officer position description has been prepared to appoint an officer to develop a new Game Licensing Test (see1.2).  

A complaints hotline is being considered and a case management system for regulatory/compliance activities is being explored (see 1.9).

Maps clearly identifying where hunting is permitted have been developed and are available online.

A survey of hunters’ understanding of hunting laws and ethical practices is being developed and will be conducted in the last quarter of the 2019-20 financial year. This will inform the direction of the compliance and education task.
2.5The GMA should develop an annual compliance strategy that sets out specific compliance and enforcement goals, priorities, strategies and performance measures that are to be applied in the upcoming period, and the basis on which those priorities and strategies have been selected and are to be evaluated against.Regional compliance plans for the remainder of 2018-19 have been completed.  

The GMA has been restructured and a Director Compliance and Intelligence appointed (see 2.3).  The Director Compliance and Intelligence was recruited to increase the strategic skills for developing an annual compliance strategy.  Work has commenced on development of a strategy that sets out specific compliance and enforcement goals, priorities, plans and performance measures for implementation in the 2019/20 financial year.
2.6The GMA’s compliance strategies should be informed by improved measures of the knowledge base and compliance posture of the hunters, game farms and other agents that it is seeking to regulate.See 2.4.

The purchase of intelligence services has been increased from 0.5FTE to 1 FTE.  A regulatory case management system and a complaint reporting hotline are being explored as outlined above.
2.7The GMA’s approach to regulation should seek to incorporate a stronger emphasis on compliance-based strategies that positively influence hunter behaviours and opportunities for self-regulation and co-regulation where stakeholders can demonstrate their willingness and ability to comply.The GMA coordinates the RESPECT: Hunt Responsibly program in consultation with the hunting industry, hunting organisations and partner government agencies.  This program identifies initiatives to encourage sustainable, safe and humane hunting.

Parks Victoria is working with hunting organisations on the opportunity to pilot the co-management of two State Game Reserves.
2.8The GMA should regularly review and evaluate the effectiveness of its compliance and enforcement efforts against its intended compliance outcomes, and adjust its strategies as required to achieve better compliance outcomes.A regulatory case management system is being explored and the GMA’s purchase of intelligence services has increased from 0.5 FTE to 1 FTE.

Metrics for the effectiveness of compliance efforts are being developed.
2.9The compliance strategy should be supported by more transparent processes for tasking and coordination of compliance and enforcement actions and improved reporting on compliance and enforcement outcomes.The GMA has increased the resources dedicated to information collection and analysis to ensure that compliance operations are based on intelligence and targeted to where the greatest harms are occurring (see 2.5).
3Operating modelProgress
3.1The existing operating model should be supported by a clear accountability and governance framework that provides a definitive statement of the accountability framework within which the GMA and its partner agencies are expected to work and detailed agreements between the individual agencies in relation to the identification of priorities, the allocation of responsibilities, resource sharing and dispute resolution.DJPR is coordinating the development of an accountability framework that recognises the role of all relevant government agencies in game hunting and game management.
3.2The GMA should seek clarification of the Government’s intent regarding the requirement that enforcement operations be undertaken with Victoria Police and, if necessary, refine and clarify the GMA’s Standard Operating Procedure in which this policy is reflected.The Victorian Government Solicitor has been engaged by the Director Compliance and Intelligence to assist in its review of GMA’s Standard Operating Procedures.
3.3The GMA should encourage the participation of volunteer resources from hunting organisations, animal welfare groups and community organisations to assist in the collection of information on the effectiveness of its compliance and enforcement efforts and support safe, responsible and sustainable behaviours in the field.See 1.9.

A dedicated reporting hotline is being explored and the community is actively being encouraged to report any suspected illegal hunting activity through existing reporting channels (Customer Service Centre, online through the GMA’s website).

The GMA regularly encourages the public to report illegal hunting through social media, media releases and the GMA’s website.An expert review panel has been established to review such complaints and includes expertise on animal welfare, legal, compliance and prosecutions.
4Capacity and capabilityProgress
4.1The funding model under which the GMA operates should be reviewed. This should include consideration of better ways of managing the demand for the GMA’s services, its approach to regulation, and the balance of resources it allocates to protestor management and enforcement activities relative to persuasive strategies to encourage higher levels of complianceAs part of its 2019 election commitments, the government has allocated an additional $1.5M per year recurrent to the GMA.  This will assist to fund the restructure and the addition of new Game Officers, communications and research staff.  

The restructure has been completed and recruitment for several roles has commenced.  The new structure and additional resources will increase the GMA’s capacity and capability to effectively regulate.  

The GMA has developed a new five (5)-year Charter and the 2019-20 business plan. New regulations, testing arrangements and an improved approach to compliance (including systems and processes) and communications are aimed to improve hunter compliance.
4.2The GMA needs to develop the capacity to develop high-level compliance strategies and to apply appropriate regulatory tools and capabilities to solve problems, prevent harm and influence behaviour.As already outlined in several points above, the GMA is working towards the implementation of an improved compliance division structure made up of a Director, Regional Team Leaders, Senior Game officers and Game Officers.  This structure will allow the Director to focus more clearly on strategic management driven by gathered intelligence.  The number of on-ground compliance staff is being more than doubled to eleven in total. The Director has been appointed and recruitment has commenced to fill the new positions.

Adoption of a case management system is being investigated to improve the management and tracking of all reported activities and the intelligence service has been increased from 0.5 FTE to 1 FTE.  Standard Operating Procedures are currently under review and annual regional compliance plans are being prepared.  

A Communications Officer has been appointed.  New regulations have been introduced to require the immediate recovery of downed ducks and minimum salvage of at least all breast meat.  New duck season opening times are being trialled and are currently under review.  Drone technology has been trialled for adoption in compliance and waterbird monitoring.  Programs delivered by the GMA will focus on influencing hunters across the compliance spectrum, from prevention, monitoring and surveillance and enforcement.
4.3The GMA should consider completion of the Australian Government Investigations Standards (AGIS) or demonstration of equivalent qualifications training as a mandatory requirement for staff involved in investigations.Following recruitment of all compliance positions, staff will be required to undertake the appropriate training in both investigation and surveillance training. These skills will be maintained over time.  

An improved system to track and record fulfillment of training and refresher requirements is also being introduced.
4.4If the GMA is to continue to perform surveillance operations, it should ensure that staff have received appropriate training in safe and effective surveillance techniques.See 4.3.
4.5The GMA should engage skilled and qualified communication and marketing experts who can engage effectively with a dispersed and diverse stakeholder base across a wide range of channels and communications media.A Senior Communications Officer has been appointed and a Communications Manager position has been advertised.  An annual stakeholder engagement plan has been developed and will be reviewed annually.  A Facebook page has been introduced and the GMA’s You Tube site is being better utilised and new video clips to improved hunter compliance are currently being developed.  The GMA website is currently under review to improve ease of use.  The Game Hunting Victoria phone app has been shut down and replaced with hunting layers in the More to Explore app.  A new online web-based mapping system has been developed and is now hosted through the GMA’s website.
4.6The GMA should seek to more effectively manage the demands on its resourcing, including by seeking tighter land access arrangements, examining the possibility of more selectively regulating some game species, exploring opportunities for co-regulation and by re-allocating resources away from relatively expensive enforcement activities toward more cost-effective activities such as information and education.Land access arrangements, setting regulations and legislation and co-regulation are matters for other responsible agencies and not the GMA.

GMA has restructured to provide greater focus on hunter education and skills development.  A new Game Licence Test is being developed to ensure hunters have a minimum standard of knowledge of hunter laws and good hunting practise.  A new Game Licensing System is being developed to accommodate the test. Social and web-based media will provide improved information and education aids to hunters to improve compliance and ensure safe and sustainable hunting.