Accredited assessor quality assurance and feedback

Receiving and acting on complaints and feedback about an accredited assessor is part of the quality assurance for the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme.

Making complaints or providing feedback about an accredited assessor

You should only make a complaint or provide feedback about an assessor's work or behaviour relating to Biodiversity Assessment Reports (BAR) (e.g. BDARs, BSSARs, BCARs) and their role in the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme (BOS). Other complaints or feedback about an assessor are outside the scope of the policy.

The Accredited Assessors Complaints and feedback Management Policy provides the approach taken by the Department to consider and respond to any complaints received.

  • Use the Assessor Complaints and feedback form (PDF 39KB) to provide the relevant information.
  • Send your complaints or feedback about an assessor after a Biodiversity Assessment Method assessment. It is expected that government decision makers will try to resolve any issues that arise during the review of individual BARs.

Complaints or feedback about an assessor should only be provided after reviewing a BAR, and the accredited assessor response is unsatisfactory. It is expected that government decision makers will try to resolve any issues that arise during the review of individual BARs.  

A person making a complaint/feedback should have first-hand experience of the incident being complained about or be able to provide clear evidence.
Lodging complaints based on reputation or third-party comments doesn't meet the requirements of the process.

Anonymous complaints are not encouraged but will be accepted. Without knowing who the complainant is we are unable to verify or ask for extra information, which may limit our ability to investigate.

The Department handles all information provided in connection with complaints and feedback in accordance with the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998, including keeping complainants' identities confidential.

First audit of Accredited Assessors

The Department is currently undertaking an audit of accredited assessors in accordance with section 20 of the Accreditation Scheme for the Application of the Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM) Order 2017. 

The audit is focused on Part 4 local development (Council Development Applications). Its purpose is to assess compliance, identify opportunities for education and ongoing scheme improvement, as well as identify areas to target for future audits. The audit considers:

  1. compliance by an accredited person with the conditions of their accreditation
  2. biodiversity assessment reports prepared by an accredited person
  3. the application of the BAM by an accredited person. 

Accredited assessors who work within a project team 

Many companies undertake biodiversity assessments in project teams. This means that there are times where the accredited person who prepares and submits the BAR for a project is unlikely to do all the ecological assessment and write the BAR.

If an accredited person is working within a project team or using information required by the BAM that was gathered or prepared by another person, the accredited person must ensure the quality of all work. The accredited assessor must:

  • be accountable for correctly applying the BAM and preparing the BAR 
  • ensure staff and contractors operating under their direction have adequate skills and knowledge to undertake the field work accurately and in accordance with the BAM,
  • they should also retain a copy of the field data sheets collected for each case for at least 10 years and be able to supply them to the Department when requested
  • have knowledge and skills (pre-requisite and BAM-training skill competency) required to provide quality control, confirm validity and accuracy of all information used in the assessment, oversee preparation and sign-off on this work 
  • operate within the code of conduct 
  • acknowledge the roles of support team members in the field work, applying the data in the credit calculator, preparation of parts of the BAR and credit calculations.
  • ensure the report correctly identifies which assessor is the responsible assessor for the BAR and the credit calculations.

Conflicts of interest

The Assessor Code of Conduct is in Part 3 of the assessor application form (DOC 117KB)

This code of conduct includes a specific obligation that an assessor 'must not act in circumstances where there is actual, perceived or potential conflict of interest.'

When deciding if there is any conflict of interest, questions to be asked include:

  • Will I or anyone I am associated with benefit from or be detrimentally affected by me carrying out a project?
  • Could there be benefits in future that could influence my objectivity? This could include things like earning capacity, future employment, and gains for friends or associates.
  • Do I have debts to any of the parties or associates of the parties, or commitments to parties?
  • Could association involve a conflict of interest of one client I have with another client I have?

Managing conflict of interest

It’s important to remember that a conflict of interest does not indicate impropriety. But it does have to be managed. 

Accredited assessors must follow the code of conduct and are responsible for managing any conflicts of interest.

There are strategies for managing conflicts of interest, including:

  • full disclosure to clients and approving authorities
  • ‘separation of duties’ 
  • contracting an independent third party to review or complete parts of the work.

We recommend that a section addressing any conflicts of interest is added to BARs.