Key messages

  • There are several Victorian and Australian Acts and Regulations that are relevant to the pest control industry.
  • Pest control is regulated so that pest control operators, the public, animals and the environment are protected from the unwanted effects of pesticides.
  • Pest control includes vermin control and weed control, in both the environment and on horticultural and agricultural land.

Legislation is the act of making and enacting laws. Legislation includes:

  • Acts (made by the parliament), which set up the legislative scheme
  • Regulations (made under the authority of an act), which provide details of the legislative scheme.

Failing to comply with legislation may result in enforcement action by the body responsible for administering the legislation. Legislation is generally administered by government departments. Authorities established under legislation independent of government may also administer legislation.

Where failure to comply is an offence under legislation, the person in breach is liable for prosecution.

Compliance with Australian Standards and Codes of Practice is not enforceable, unless they are referred to in an act or set out in Regulations. However, pest control operators (PCOs) should adhere to these guidelines, as they provide a minimum benchmark for the conduct of activities.

Pest control legislation – public health

The department licenses and regulates pest control operators under Section101 of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (PHW Act) and the Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2009 (PHW Regulations).

Licensing of the pest control industry is designed to protect pest control operators, consumers, members of the public, and the environment from the harmful effects of pesticides.

Pest control legislation – other

Licensing by the department’s Drugs and Poisons Unit

Any person who purchases or possesses arsenic or cyanide is required to hold an industrial permit issued by the Drugs and Poisons Unit of the department. This permit is required in addition to either a departmental pest control licence or a Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) Agricultural Chemical Users Permit.

For further information, or to obtain a permit, contact the Drugs and Poisons Unit.

Licensing by the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)

The Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 and the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Regulations 2007 are administered by DEDJTR and ensure that:

  • the environment, agricultural produce and livestock are protected
  • pesticides are registered with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority
  • pesticides are applied according to label directions.

The Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 requires any person who carries on a business or offers a service for fee or reward involving the use of a prescribed class of agricultural chemical to have a commercial operator licence. This is unless the business ensures that all use of the chemical product is undertaken by a person who holds a licence to use that pesticide under the PHW Act

For further information, contact DEDJTR.

Licensing by the Department Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)

Under the Wildlife Act 1975,it is an offence to hunt, take, destroy, buy, sell, acquire, receive, dispose of, keep, possess, control, breed, process, display, swap, keep, trade, kill, release, take samples from or experiment on wildlife without prior written approval from the Secretary to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). This is usually in the form of a Wildlife Licence or an Authority to Control Wildlife.

DELWP may issue licences in any of the 14 categories prescribed in the Wildlife Regulations 2002. Each category makes provisions for the lawful undertaking of different activities involving wildlife. The category relevant to the pest control industry enabling the removal, destruction or disposal of native fauna is the Wildlife Controller category.

DELWP also issues written authorisations that allow an individual to partake in activities involving wildlife, including destruction and disposal, provided that DELWP is satisfied that the authorisation is necessary.

For further information contact DELWP.

Licensing by the Licensing Services Division, Victoria Police

The Licensing Services Division of Victoria Police administers the Firearms Act 1996,under which a licence is required for the possession and use of a firearm.

For further information regarding licensing by Victoria Police, contact the Licensing Services Division.

Occupation health and safety legislation

The Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007 are administered by WorkSafe Victoria. This legislation ensures that employers protect the health and safety of employees that are using hazardous substances.

Pest control operator – legal definition

A pest control operator (PCO) is defined in the PHW Act as ‘a person who carries on or holds themselves out in any way as carrying on the business of controlling, destroying or repelling pests’.

The PHW Act requires that anyone who uses pesticides, or permits another person to use pesticides in the course of a business of a pest control operator in Victoria, must hold a valid licence unless the pesticide is being used for the purpose of:

(a) horticulture**; or

(b) agriculture*; or

(c) water treatment; or

(d) weed control; or

(e) controlling a pest animal to protect an area or place that is not:

  • a building used for commercial purposes; or
  • domestic premises or privately owned land adjacent to a domestic premises.

** Note that pesticides used for the purpose of horticulture are pesticides used in the treatment of the following commodities:

  • fruit and vegetables
  • dried fruit and nuts
  • tobacco
  • seeds
  • flowers
  • ornamental plants
  • soil and potting mixtures.

* Note that pesticides used for the purpose of agriculture are pesticides used in the treatment of the following commodities:

  • grain
  • pulses
  • hay
  • logs
  • stock animals.

A person who carries on a business or offers a service for fee or reward that involves the use of pesticides for any activity identified in categories (a)–(e) may require a commercial operator licence issued by DEDJTR.

Pesticide – definition

The PHW Act defines a pesticide as:

(a) any agricultural chemical product within the meaning of the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992; and

(b) any substance prescribed as a pesticide for the purposes of this definition.

There are currently no substances prescribed as a pesticide under the PHW Regulations.

Agricultural chemical product – definition

The Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 defines agricultural chemical product by referring to the definition in the Agvet Code of Victoria. The Code, set out in the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Act 1994 (Cwlth), and regulations under the Act apply as the Agvet Code of Victoria and regulations for the purposes of the Agvet Code of Victoria.

Under the Agvet Code, an agricultural chemical product:

(a) is a substance or mixture of substances that is represented, imported, manufactured, supplied or used as a means of directly or indirectly:

  • destroying, stupefying, repelling, inhibiting the feeding of or preventing infestation by or attacks of any pest in relation to a plant, a place or a thing
  • destroying a plant
  • modifying the physiology of a plant or pest so as to alter its natural development, productivity, quality or reproductive capacity
  • modifying an effect of another agricultural chemical product or
  • attracting a pest for the purpose of destroying it.

(b) includes a substance or mixture of substances declared by the regulations to be an agricultural chemical product

(c) does not include:

  • a veterinary chemical product or
  • a substance or mixture of substances declared by the regulations not to be an agricultural chemical product.

Under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemical Code Regulations 1995 (Cwlth) the following classes or mixtures of substances have been declared to be agricultural chemical products:

  • dairy cleansers for on-farm use
  • any substance used in conjunction with an agricultural chemical product to identify areas treated with that product
  • insect repellents for use on human beings.

Agricultural chemical product – prescribed classes

The Agricultural and Veterinary Chemical (Control of Use) Regulations 1996 lists the following as prescribed classes of agricultural chemical products:

  • herbicides
  • fungicides
  • insecticides
  • growth regulators
  • vermin destroyers
  • avicides

Pest control – definitions

Licence holder

Under the PHW Act,licence holder means a person who holds a pest control licence.

Pest control licence

Under the PHW Act,pest control licence means a licence issued or renewed by the Secretary under s. 101.

Pest control operator

A pest control operator is defined in the PHW Actas a person who carries on or holds themselves out in any way as carrying on the business of controlling, destroying or repelling pests.

A pest control operator may also be known as a pest management technician or contractor.

Pests

Under the PHW Act, pests includes any animal or other biological entity (not being a human being or a plant) that injuriously affects, or is likely to injuriously affect, a person, a person’s property or a person’s use or enjoyment of a place.

Pest animal

The PHW Actdefines pest animal by reference to the definition in the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994.

Under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994, pest animal is defined as:

  • a prohibited pest animal
  • a controlled pest animal
  • a regulated pest animal, or
  • an established pest animal.

Pest animal species are classified as prohibited, controlled, regulated or established according to their potential to threaten agriculture, community health and the environment.

Under s. 20(1)(f) of the Catchment and Land Protection Act, a landowner must take all reasonable steps to prevent the spread of, and as far as possible eradicate, established pest animals in relation to their land.

Established pest animals include red foxes, feral dogs and dogs-run-wild, European hares, European rabbits, feral goats and goats-run-wild, and feral pigs and pigs-run-wild.

The eradication of pest animals is a service that a pest control operator may be contracted by the landowner to provide. In these cases, the pest control operator does not require authorisation from DELWP.

However, if a pest control operator intends to control an established pest animal using pesticides to protect an area or place in a building used for commercial or domestic purposes, the pest control operator will require a departmental pest control licence with the appropriate authorisation.

Wildlife

Wildlife, as defined under the Wildlife Act 1975, includes:

  • any animal of a vertebrate taxonomy, which is indigenous to Australia
  • all kinds of deer, non-indigenous quail, pheasants, and partridges
  • any taxon of animal that the Governor in Council declares to be wildlife for the purposes of the Wildlife Act 1975
  • any taxon of terrestrial invertebrate animal listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988
  • any hybrids of a taxon of animal specified above and
  • includes any such animal or any member of a taxon that is bred or kept in captivity or confinement.

The term ‘wildlife’ refers to wildlife in any form, whether dead or alive, and includes any individual part of an animal.

How to access Victorian legislation

Copies of Victorian legislation are available on the Victorian legislation and parliamentary document website.

Contact details

  • Pest Control Program

    Phone hours are: 9 am to 12 pm, Monday to Friday. Direct all other enquiries to the pest control email address. Postal address: GPO Box 4057, Melbourne VIC 3001

Contact details