Terms of Reference
Reviews of Victoria's food safety regulatory system by the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission and the Victorian Auditor General emphasised the need for a coordinating body to ensure the seamless operation of the food regulatory system for the benefit of consumers and food businesses.
The Victorian Food Regulators Forum, comprised of senior representatives of Victoria's food safety regulators and other relevant agencies, fulfils this purpose by enabling regulators to manage risk efficiently and effectively. It promotes ongoing cooperation and coordination between regulators, facilitating the good relationships that enable the development of systems to resolve issues as they arise.
The Forum aims to facilitate a 'joined up', effective and efficient food regulatory system for Victoria that protects public health and safety, facilitates market access for Victorian commodities and deals with deceptive and misleading conduct in relation to sale of food.
The goals of the Forum are:
- improved public health outcomes through the integrated application of Victorian food regulation and strategic risk assessment
- improved coordination of regulators through role clarity and clear communication
- improved efficiency for regulators and for the regulation of industry by management of cross boundary issues and unusual circumstances
- consistent implementation of national food safety Standards
- efficient management of deceptive and misleading conduct in relation to sale of food and food labelling complaints.
The Forum may be chaired by a senior representative of any of the member agencies, or an appropriate external government agency, and the Chair will be selected by consensus of the Forum members. The Chair is appointed for a term of two years.
The Chair should have significant understanding of or experience with regulation in the areas of primary production and/or food safety and related public health issues. The Chair should maintain an awareness of current issues in food safety regulation.
If the Chair is unavailable to attend a meeting, one of the Forum members will chair the meeting.
The key roles of the Chair include:
- facilitate Forum meetings
- without limiting Forum members' ability to speak on their own behalves, represent the Forum as a whole in other forums, for example discussions with other regulatory groups
- guide development of the agenda in line with the Forum's agreed strategic directions
- liaise with the Executive Officer on delivery of actions agreed at meetings.
Roles and responsibilities
All members are required to operate within their own legislative and policy frameworks. The Forum will seek consensus on any actions required. The Forum has no authority to direct its members to undertake any action.
The Forum will:
- identify measures to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the operations of the Victorian food regulatory system;
- serve as a forum to share knowledge and experience, and develop a unified approach to national and state food regulatory issues as required;
- assess emerging food safety risks and identify activities to address these risks;
- inform development of regulatory policy and provide an opportunity to test national policy development with Victorian regulators;
- develop an annual program of work;
- monitor operation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Victorian food regulators, review it as required and work to address issues arising from its negotiation and operation.
The Forum does not coordinate food safety incident management but does develop systems and procedures to facilitate coordinated incident management, and may provide a point of contact for consistent communications during the course of an incident.
The Victorian Food Regulators Forum consists of senior management from:
- Department of Health and Human Services (Food Safety Regulation Unit)
- Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (Agriculture Policy Division)
- Department of Justice and Regulation (Consumer Affairs Victoria)
- Dairy Food Safety Victoria
- Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV).
as well as:
- The Victorian Chief Health Officer
- The Victorian Chief Veterinary Officer.
It is essential that members have the knowledge and authority to act on behalf of their organisations. It is expected that Forum members will consult within their organisations as required. Forum members may delegate attendance at meetings and delegates will have the same rights as members. Decisions will be taken at meetings and will be binding.
The Forum will interact with local government through the representative of the MAV.
The Chair may invite other representatives to attend where those individuals can provide relevant additional expertise.
The Forum will meet approximately quarterly with dates for the subsequent calendar year to be determined at the end of each year. Members should make every reasonable effort to attend each meeting. Where a member is not able to attend a meeting, a suitable delegate should attend. Decisions will be made by consensus.
The Executive Officer will distribute meeting papers by email no later than five business days before each meeting. The Executive Officer will circulate minutes and action items to members within five business days after each meeting.
An Executive Officer provided by the Department of Economic Development and/or the Department of Health and Human Services, as agreed from time to time, will provide administrative support for the Forum.
The Executive Officer will work with the Chair and Forum members to develop the annual work program and agenda for each meeting, based on the agreed objectives and work plan for the year. The Executive Officer will attend meetings to record meeting outcomes and action items, and will work with the Chair and Forum members out of session to progress agreed action items and any other work items for the Forum. The Executive Officer will co-ordinate any revision of the MoU in consultation with Forum members and prepare discussion papers and other materials as required.
This Terms of Reference will be effective from 16 April 2015 and continues until terminated by agreement between the Forum members. This Terms of Reference may be reviewed and amended, varied or modified by agreement of Forum members.