Make your voice heard

Make your voice heard

It's time to make some noise in the run up to the independent Review of Australia’s environment laws

Make your voice heard in the independent Review of Australia’s environment laws

This guide will help you get your concerns, views and thoughts across powerfully and effectively. You can make your voice heard by going to the homepage for the Review and clicking on 'Make a submission'.

Every 10 years, the Australian Government must independently review how well our national environment law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC), is protecting the wildlife and places we love. In October 2019, Environment Minister Sussan Ley announced the second 10-year review, with community input sought between November 2019 and 14 February 2020.

This is a once-in-a-decade chance to have a real national conversation about how we protect our environment. We want to get as many community submissions as possible into the Review to:

  1. Ensure the Independent Reviewer and Review Panel hear stories and experience of nature destruction, understand your concerns and the solution we know Australia’s nature needs;
  2. Balance the voices of vested interests who want to see Australia’s nature protections weakened even further; and
  3. Use the big opportunity of the Review to call on politicians and decision-makers to take concrete action to end our extinction and deforestation crises.

Why is your voice important? 

Community members often feel like they need to be a technical expert or a lawyer to have an input into government processes. This couldn’t be further from the truth: the Review needs to hear your stories about the natural values you love and the changes you’ve seen in them. 

Your stories powerfully illustrate the larger problems we’re talking about and will demonstrate the breadth and depth of Australians' love of their natural world. You can back your experience up with data or studies to link it to national issues like Australia’s deforestation or extinction crises if you would like.

Don’t worry if you can’t point out specific parts of the EPBC that don’t work! You can look at the overall outcomes to show if the Act is working e.g. the EPBC is meant to protect native species, but numbers of koalas, numbats and northern-hairy nosed wombats keep declining.

The most important thing is to be concise and get across your thoughts and lived experiences, rather than external expertise: your submission will not be more effective because it is long, overly technical, or opinionated.

What you should include in your submission

The broad questions that the Review is seeking to answer are:

  • Is the EPBC effectively delivering what was intended? Is it up to future challenges?
  • How well is the Act being administered (e.g. enforcement, funding, implementation etc)?
  • What are the priority areas for reform?
  • What changes are needed? Why?

Submissions don’t need to be long - aim for between 300-600 words if you can. Use this example submission as a guide to writing your own. 

Aim to include the following elements in your submission:

  1. Introduce yourself and your stake in the issue:
    1. Identify which of the broad questions above you’ll cover. Dot points are fine.
    2. You can find the Terms of Reference for the Review and further questions in the Review discussion paper if you want to address them. It is fine to just address the questions above, however, or only some aspects of the Terms of Reference.
    3. Identify your stake (e.g. concerned community member) in the issue. This establishes you as an ‘expert’ in your lived experience.
  2. What issues are of concern to you: 
    1. Identify one or more issues you’d like to draw to the Reviewer’s attention. Use headings to clearly mark the different issues in your submission. 
    2. Use your own personal experience to support and illustrate statements you make. Write from what you know. 
    3. Where possible, provide third party evidence to support each of your statements and demonstrate how it is part of a larger problem with Australia’s nature laws. This evidence doesn’t have to be scientific papers - it can be reports from reputable charities, governments or local wildlife carers. However, ideally this should not be things you heard or were told.
  3. Recommendations: Tie your issues of concern back to the national nature laws that work ask - see the New Nature Laws 101 for more detail. 
    1. Establish a new National Environment Act that enshrines Federal Government leadership over nature protections, contains real safeguards against extinction, including ending the destruction of endangered species habitat, and sets out clear rights of appeal and consultation for communities.
    2. Establish an independent Environment Protection Agency to act as watchdog over the system and ensure our laws are properly enforced;
    3. Establish an independent National Environment Commission to ensure we take a national approach to protecting nature and to publicly report every year on the impact of conservation action and funding, and show clearly whether natural values are recovering; 
    4. Ensure that sufficient money and resources are put in place so that nature can recover; and
    5. Ensure a central role for community, with guaranteed rights and participation in planning and decision-making.

Top tips

  • You don’t have to cover every question asked by the Review or part of the EPBC: being concise, clear and grounded in your personal story trumps comprehensive, academic and wordy.
  • Submissions should not be shorter than 300 words and NOT longer than 4 pages. 
  • No swearing, abuse or threats... Ever.
  • Don’t target individual public servants or MPs. 
  • Do not include anything you would not like made public.
  • Thank the decision maker for their time and consideration.

Double (or triple!) your impact

Get more impact out of your submission by sending it to other stakeholders who can influence the outcome of the Review (e.g. your MP, Senators) so that they hear and respond to your concerns. 

Don’t just ask them to read your submission; include a clear request for action on their behalf, such as writing to the Australian Environment Minister asking them to ensure the Review addresses the issues you raise in your submission. If you’re unsure of what to ask, please contact your local TWS organiser.

You can also encourage and support family, friends and community members to put in their own submissions. Give them this guide and explain why you’ve put in a submission and why it’s important to you: this is a great opportunity to engage them on the issues you care about!

Make your voice heard by going to the homepage for the Review and clicking on 'Make a submission'.

Help us tell the story of an engaged and caring Australia

You will be among hundreds of Wilderness Society supporters who will be making a submission, and this in itself can inspire others to voice their concerns. 

Make sure you let us know when you make a submission, and any response you get. We also want to know when you forward your submission onto any MP or third party. This will help us communicate the momentum gathering behind the need for a thorough and credible review process. 

Further information

You can find more information via these channels:

  • The official EPBC Act Review page 
  • Write to us at info@wilderness.org.au for our guide on “how to write effective submissions” and other materials that will help you impactfully engage with decision makers 
  • Join one of our Movement for Life teams to meet like-minded people and receive free training