Victorians have benefited from the use of radiation for many decades. Diagnostic and therapeutic uses of radiation are integral to the present quality of health care. In addition, advances in biochemical, medical and other research have been greatly aided by the use of radiation, and industrial and other uses of radiation have contributed to the safety and quality of life for all Victorians. The use of radiation does, however, involve hazards, particularly if it is used inappropriately or unnecessarily.
The Department of Health administers the provisions of the Radiation Act 2005. The Act establishes a system of licensing users of radiation apparatus and managers of radiation practices. It includes regulation-making powers under which the Radiation Regulations 2007 (available on the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website) have been made. The Act establishes a Radiation Advisory Committee.
Radiation Act 2005
The Radiation Act 2005 commenced on 1 September 2007. The new Act gives effect to Victoria's commitment to the National Directory for Radiation Protection (NDRP), which outlines a common approach to be undertaken by Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments towards the management of radiation protection.
The purpose of the legislation is "to protect the health and safety of all persons and the environment from the harmful effects of radiation" and incorporates:
- The Radiation Protection Principle.
- A requirement for the Secretary of the Department of Health to have regard to both the Radiation Protection Principle and the NDRP.
- The concept of licensed activities. In particular, the licensing framework includes:
- A management licence to authorise the conduct of a radiation practice (such as possession of a radiation source). It is intended to apply a condition to all management licences where possession of a radiation source is authorised to incorporate conditions requiring the licence holder to notify the Secretary of the acquisition and disposal of radiation sources permitted to be acquired or disposed of by the licence. This arrangement will therefore ensure that a register of licence holders, details and locations of radiation sources can be maintained.
- A radiation facility construction licence.
- Use licences to authorise a natural person to use a radiation source.
- The concept of approved testers and the testing of prescribed radiation sources against declared radiation safety standards.
The Radiation Act (s.134) requires that the Secretary must publish a report for each financial year that -
(a) describes the activities of the Secretary under the Act;
(b) includes a summary of all authorities issued, renewed, suspended, cancelled, varied, transferred or surrendered during that year;
(c) includes all radiation incidents investigated in that year;
(d) includes a summary of all prosecutions for offences against the Act or the Radiation Regulations 2007 commenced in that year; and
(e) includes any other prescribed matter.
The annual reports are included in the Publications section of this website.
The regulations are made under Section 139 of the Radiation Act 2005 and:
- Prescribe the activity concentration and activity of material that spontaneously emits ionising radiation and the prescribed circumstances for the purposes of the definition of radioactive material;
- Prescribe radiation dose limits;
- Prescribe the radiation sources that require a current certificate of compliance prior to use of the source;
- Prescribe the date of expiry for certificates of compliance issued in respect of prescribed radiation sources;
- Exempt for a limited time certain radiation sources from the need to have a certificate of compliance;
- Prescribe fees
- Prescribe other matters required to give effect to the Act.
National Codes & Standards
The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) publishes Codes of Practice or Standards.
These Codes and Standards often have a significant impact on those conducting radiation practices or using radiation sources because States and Territories have agreed to implement many of these Codes via instruments such as licences or Regulations. Both Management and Use Licences within Victoria will refer to compliance with an applicable Code of Practice or Standard where one exists.
ARPANSA provide a comprehensive list of all currently published Codes and standards. Visit the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) website.
From time to time Codes and Standards are updated and new ones are developed. As States and Territories have agreed to implement these Codes as legislation, the Department encourages persons who have interests in radiation practices to participate in the development of these Codes and Standards
The Radiation Advisory Committee was established in 1984 by the Minister for Health under the Health Act 1958 to advise the Minister or the Secretary on any matters relating to the administration of the radiation legislation
For more information see Radiation Advisory Committee.