Risk assessment

Identifying the risk and priority of alleged non-compliant activity or behaviour includes:

  • the seriousness of the non-compliance, including the potential for harm
  • the character of the behaviour leading to the non-compliance
  • the degree to which humans, animals, the environment or the agvet chemical, agricultural and trade industries have been or could be exposed to risk or harm
  • whether Agvet legislation has been contravened
  • whether the APVMA is best equipped to respond.

Assessment

All reports about actual or potential breaches of Agvet legislation are subject to an initial assessment. This means the APVMA seeks to validate key information and establish the risk and priority for compliance and enforcement action.

Based on the initial assessment, a course of action may be determined to:

  • not pursue the matter further
  • seek more information
  • establish a case and begin an investigation.

Accountability and records

The APVMA keeps records of all reports and their treatment, including further enquiries and APVMA-led investigations.

The aim of further enquiries or investigation is to:

  • determine whether any Agvet law has been contravened
  • understand the circumstances leading to any non-compliance
  • gather evidence in a manner that ensures it will be admissible (if needed later)
  • identify issues or needs for improvement in regulatory control
  • support a return to compliance
  • achieve an appropriate outcome within a reasonable time and at a reasonable cost, according to the law and the nature of the investigation.

All enquiries and investigations are documented to a standard that demonstrates thorough consideration of the matter and the basis for our response and to permit escalation of the matter to court if needed.

Compliance activities are conducted to ensure any evidence collected is relevant and admissible.

The APVMA maintains formality and strict processes as the exercise of some forms of coercive power—or the application of a sanction based on legislation—can generally be disputed in a relevant court or tribunal. For example:

  • decisions about the issue of recall notices can be disputed in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal
  • culpability for criminal sanctions sought through the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions can be resisted in court.

While APVMA Compliance and Monitoring staff conduct themselves in a professional and unbiased manner, any complaints it receives about its officers is taken very seriously and will be carefully considered. A senior officer independent of the activity will undertake any review. If a dispute is unable to be resolved it may be taken to the Commonwealth Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is the independent authority that safeguards the community in its dealings with Australian Government agencies.

Record keeping

Records the APVMA generates or receives in the course of official duties are Australian Government records and are subject to various legislative requirements. They may also be subject to internal or external rights, merits or judicial reviews and be used for evidentiary purposes.

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