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Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment

Our Office

Our Role

The Commissioner is an independent statutory position which undertakes the following functions and activities:

  • investigates complaints about the management of the environment by the Territory or a Territory authority
  • conducts investigations as directed by the Minister
  • initiates investigations into actions of an agency where those actions would have a substantial impact on the environment of the ACT
  • produces state of the environment reports for the ACT and the 17 councils in the Australian Capital Region
  • makes recommendations for consideration by government and includes in our annual report the outcomes of those recommendations
  • resolves issues through mediation and conflict resolution
  • undertakes an advocacy and awareness role on sustainability and environmental issues
Recent amendments to the Act

Amendments to broaden the scope of the Commissioner for the Environment Act 1993 took effect on 29 May  2012.


Section 1 Name of the Act – Commissioner for Sustainability  and the Environment Act 1993

Section 2B Objects of  Act – the objects of the Act are to:

  1. Ensure  regular and consistent reporting on matters relating to the condition and  management of the environment in the Territory; and
  2. Ensure  regular reporting on progress towards ecologically sustainable development by  the Territory and Territory authorities; and
  3. Encourage  decision making that facilities ecologically sustainable development; and
  4. Enhance  knowledge and understanding of issues relating to ecologically sustainable development  and the environment; and
  5. Encourage  sound environmental practices and procedures to be adopted by the Territory and  Territory authorities as a basis for ecologically sustainable development.

Section 4 Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment - the Minister  must appoint a person as the Commissioner for Sustainability and the  Environment.

Section 12 – Functions – The Commissioners functions include an additional  function (1)(a)(ii) issues relating to ecologically sustainable development in  the ACT.

Section 13 – Complaints-An additional subject for complaint (13 (1)(b)) issues  relating to ecologically sustainable development in the ACT.

Section 19 – State of the environment reports – 19(3) the Minister must within 6  months after the day of receiving a state of environment report present to the  Legislative Assembly a statement that sets out the response of the government  to the report. There is no longer scope for the Minister to present a statement  to the Assembly giving reasons for why he is not presenting a response to a  state of environment report to the Assembly, as was the case under the old Act.

Section 21 - Special reports – under 21 (2) the Minister must within 6 months  after the day of receiving a special report (a special report is a report in  relation to an investigation that the Minister has directed the Commissioner to  conduct, or a report in relation to an investigation initiated by the  commissioner and conducted into an issue of environmental significance to the  Territory) present to the Legislative Assembly a statement that sets out the  response of the government  to the  report.

What does an objects  clause do?

This clause indicates the object that the legislature  intended to achieve by enacting a particular piece of legislation. It is  influential in guiding the interpretation and the administration of the  legislation by decision-makers.

Our Structure

Our Office consists of a full time Commissioner, two Senior Managers; two Project Officers and an Office Manager.

Our Vision

Living Sustainably

Our vision captures our commitment to assist the community and government to undertake actions advancing sustainability and environmental security.  This is achieved through advocacy, independent scrutiny, reporting and advice.

Our Mission

Advancing sustainability and environmental security through advocacy, independent scrutiny, reporting and advice.

Our Values

Our values guide our work; our behaviours; and the way we interact with each other and our stakeholders. 

Our values are:

  • Independence - we empower through objectivity, transparent processes, honest delivery and appropriate confidentiality.
  • Caring – our high regard for the environment and our community sustains our efforts.
  • Innovation –we seek to use the best available knowledge to pursue solutions that may not be evident or even exist yet.
  • Empathy – we have realistic approaches in recognising the realities faced by the individuals and organisations we engage with.
  • Collaboration – we take an integrated and inclusive approach.

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