Removing the prohibition on camping on licenced river frontages

1. Why is the Bill removing the prohibition on camping on licensed river frontages? 

As part of the 2018 ‘Fishing and Boating’ election commitments, the Andrews Labor Government committed to ‘guarantee access to fishing and camping on Crown land that has grazing licences and river frontage’ to further encourage families and friends to spend time together in the outdoors.

It is important to understand that many other forms of recreation are permitted on licensed river frontages, such as picnicking, fishing and hiking, however, camping is currently prohibited on these areas.

The removal of the prohibition on camping on licensed river frontages recognises that this activity has been occurring on many of these frontages for many years and allows for it to be better managed through regulations.

This also regularises the situation between licensed river frontages and unlicensed river frontages, State Forests and National Parks – where camping is currently prohibited.

2. What will the Bill do?

The Bill amends the Land Actby removing the prohibition on camping on licensed river frontages, providing consistency with State Forests, National Parks and unlicensed Crown land, where camping is permitted.  The Bill also ensures that the policy can be implemented successfully in the following ways:

  • The Bill inserts appropriate regulation-making powers to assist in managing the recreational activity and protecting the environment, in line with how State Forests, National Parks and unlicensed Crown land is currently managed.
  • The Bill ensures that various offences in the Forests Act relating to campfires in State forest apply to licensed river frontages.

3. How will the policy be implemented?

Implementing the policy will be guided by a comprehensive implementation plan and will involve consultation with key stakeholders, including the Victorian Farmers Federation, Outdoors Victoria, recreational anglers, Traditional Owners and catchment management authorities. Implementing the policy will also be supported by:

  • Enforcement of the regulations on river frontages in the same manner as State Forests and National Parks.
  • The development of educational materials to encourage safe and appropriate camping behaviour and to manage potential risks to the environment, including water quality in the same manner as State Forests and National Parks.

4. Will the legislative change increase camping on river frontages?

The Victorian Government is committed to encouraging families and friends to spend time together in the outdoors, and the intention of this Bill is to make it easier for families to go camping on Crown Land.

Providing greater opportunities for camping will enable Victorians to spend more time in the great outdoors, leading to increases in enjoyment and wellbeing.

Removing the legislative prohibition on camping on river frontages will, in some areas, regularise camping activity that has taken place over many years.

In some areas, it may also encourage more camping or may result in the existing camping activity becoming more dispersed.

In addition to removing the legislative prohibition on camping on licensed water frontages, the Victorian Fishing Authority will work to identify sites where access to rivers can be improved.

5. Where are the main areas where camping is expected to occur as a result of the policy?

It is expected that the legislative change will support camping right across the State, with improved public access to public land.

6. How will farm biosecurity issues be managed?

Implementing the policy will involve consultation with key stakeholders, including the Victorian Farmers Federation. This will ensure that key risks can be managed.  However, it should be noted that:

  • The public is already able to lawfully access licensed river frontages for recreation, just not camping; and
  • The public currently camp in State Forests in harmony with famers who have grazing licences.

Educational materials prepared to support the implementation of the changes will include information about managing the risks of introducing pest animals or invasive plant species, in line with State Forests.