Parks Victoria … Makes Me Despair

Late on Friday afternoon, November 5th, I got an email from Sasha Sarago, the Indigenous Tourism Officer for Parks Victoria, telling me the following:

PHOTOGRAPHY IN NATIONAL PARKS

Since June this year Parks Victoria has conducted an independent review of its Annual Landscape Photography Licence System. The review is now complete and we confirm that Parks Victoria will continue to issue its Annual Landscape Photography permits to photographers that require access to Parks Victoria managed areas for commercial purposes.

The review confirmed that under the National Parks Act (1975) a permit must be issued for any commercial activity undertaken within any park scheduled under the Act. This includes the activities of individuals or groups conducting photography for commercial publications.

A permit is required to ensure that photography activities are directed to the most suitable places and to minimise potential conflict with other licensees and with the experiences of other park visitors. A permit also ensures that activities are carried out with the appropriate risk management procedures and insurance cover, as deemed by the Victorian Government.

The Commercial Filming and Photography Policy has been in place for over 10 years. In 2001 Parks Victoria reviewed the policy and the process for allocating commercial filming and photography permits to ensure permits are allocated in a fair and equitable manner. This review was done in consultation with the Melbourne Film Office, Australian Institute of Professional Photographers and Australian Commercial and Magazine Photographers. The Parks Victoria Commercial Filming and Photography Permit process is recognised by these groups as industry best practice.

*************************

Would any of my blog followers like to comment on this before I fire back at Parks Victoria the “serve” that they well and truly need?

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About rossbmedia

Journalist ... interested in the truth not public service spin.
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11 Responses to Parks Victoria … Makes Me Despair

  1. Geoff Rehmet says:

    Ross,

    the last email which I received from Parks Victoria indicated that they had this process on hold. The last email I received from Alysia Brandenburg read as follows:

    Dear David (sic)

    You email has been forwarded to me. The Tourism Partnerships area is the unit which is currently reviewing the Landscape Permit process.

    Thank you for your information below. We will consider that information that you have provided within the context of the review.

    Currently the staff member who is undertaking the review is on leave and will be returning in a couple of weeks. We will then be able to finalise the process and commence the communication of the decisions. Until that process if finalised we will not be in a position to communicate any outcomes or possible policy changes.

    Please note that we have some other matters that are currently of a higher priority including flooding and the locust situation but we will be seeking to finalise the process when the relevant staff member returns.

    I’m happy to be the contact for this matter and, if you like, I will include your details on our communication list to provide updated information to.

    Please let me know if you don’t want to be included to receive information on this matter.

    I have not heard anything from Parks Victoria since that email.

    Any pretence they are making of consultation seems to quite honestly be nothing but that: pretence!

    Give it to them!

    Geoff.

  2. Harry Phillips says:

    I am sick of these organisations, they make the stupidest of assumptions, including:
    1. dSLR = a professional
    2. Commercial = more impact and access than a tourist

  3. Rob Walls says:

    “A permit is required to ensure that photography activities are directed to the most suitable places and to minimise potential conflict with other licensees and with the experiences of other park visitors. A permit also ensures that activities are carried out with the appropriate risk management procedures and insurance cover, as deemed by the Victorian Government.”

    We are to be directed to where we are to shoot? There is potential “conflict” with other licencees? Would they care to name the possibile conflicts? Risk management procedures? Are our national parks such dangerous places that perhaps we should not use them? This is Orwellian!

    • Geoff Rehmet says:

      What is also very concerning is the statement that Parks Victoria want to direct what and where people shoot. This is interference with freedom of speech and expression. What do Parks Victoria have to hide?

      I personally wish all professional photographers could afford (or justify using) Leica M9s… That way not even the strategy of harassing anyone with a SLR would remotely work! That would be one in the eye for the “bureaurats”.

      Rob, have you noticed as well that on Parks Victoria website they state that portrait and wedding photographers do not require a permit? So does that mean that as soon as you stick a person into the frame you don’t need a permit?

  4. Rob Walls says:

    I wish I could afford an M9 too, Geoff…but whenever there is the potential for bureaucrats to prevent me from taking the pictures I want, I hide my intent by using a Canon G11. It’s an adequate substitute…

    • Geoff Rehmet says:

      Hehe, my wife and I use a G11 as well. I’ve got away shooting with a G5 and G11 on Melbourne railway stations (as have you). I use the G11 a lot when commuting by bike, because of the low weight and my concern about falling and trashing a SLR.

  5. Peter H. Bennett says:

    Hi there Ross,
    Your reply from Sasha Sargo looks rather “familiar to me” Here’s why……!!!!
    This is a copy of a letter I forwarded earlier to Geoff Remet… I’m sure you’ll find it self explanatory.
    Please feel free to contact me should you have any comments.

    Email as follows :

    I am enclosing a copy of an email I received from a Dianne Smith at Parks Victoria.
    In my letter to the Dept. I asked how they determine whether one is a professional or non-professional photographer, and where the onus of proof lies. Unfortunately this basic question was not answered, and a follow up email was forwarded to Ms. Smith for clarification. Unfortunately I have not received a reply as yet.
    You mentioned a permit may not be required for portraiture or wedding photography, however in Ms. Smith’s email it states that one is required to obtain an “events permit” and if photography is included in that a separate permit is not required. It would appear from that you’ve got to pay for one or the other !!!.
    I’ll have look at the sites mentioned in your email, and thanks for getting in touch.

    Regards,

    Peter Bennett

    Firstly here is a copy of my initial letter to Parks Victoria ;

    The Officer in Charge
    Parks Victoria
    Tourism Partnerships

    Dear Sir,

    I have been in touch with Parks Victoria on two occasions regarding your policies on Photography of National Parks in Victoria.
    Unfortunately in neither instance has the person to whom I spoke, been able to clarify my concerns.

    My questions arise following an article in “The Age” newspaper of the 18th October 2010 titled “Photography bans leave ordinary life out of the picture” by Geoff Strong. In that article Strong refers to an incident involving a non-professional photographer who was ordered from a beach at Cape Schanck.

    I have read you website and believe these regulations are very much open to interpretation and are unclear,

    I therefore would like someone in Authority to clarify the following points.

    1. Under what circumstances does a non-professional photographer (or amateur) require a permit for still photography within a Victorian National Park ? Your website states that if photographs are used for publication or public display purposed a permit may be required. Can you please advise what these circumstances are ? Does this pertain to photographs placed in a photographic exhibition which may be viewed by other camera club members or , as in the case of the Photographic Competition conducted in conjunction by the Royal Melbourne Show , the general public ? Does the definition of publication include the posting of photographs on the internet, including social networks such as Facebook, personal web pages , or public photo-storage sites ?

    2. Where does the onus lie in regards to proving that one is a non-professional photographer ? What are the criteria on which a Ranger or other person in authority uses to assess if one is either professional or non-professional ? Has a Ranger the right to remove one from a National Park based on his assessment as to whether one is a professional photographer or otherwise ? Does a Ranger have the power to confiscate equipment being used ?

    3. Your web site also states that Photography permits are not required for “small scale editorial photography……..” you define this (in part as )…..” low level equipment such as that which will fit into a backpack or a single tripod….” ( I guess you mean which will fit on a single tripod ) and that multiple tripods are not permitted ? Is equipment carried in a large camera bag included in you definition of “backpack” ?

    I look forward to receipt of information clarifying the above concerns.

    Yours faithfully,

    Peter H. Bennett.

    —————

    Here is Ms. Smith’s reply ;

    Dear Mr Bennett,

    PHOTOGRAPHY IN VICTORIA’S NATIONAL PARKS

    Thank you for your email of 26 October 2010 to the Hon Gavin Jennings MP, Minister for Environment regarding photography in Victoria’s National Parks. The Minister has asked me to reply on his behalf.

    Since June this year, Parks Victoria has conducted an independent review of its Annual Landscape Photography Licence System. The review is now complete and we confirm that Parks Victoria will continue to issue its Annual Landscape Photography permits to photographers who require access to Parks Victoria managed areas for commercial purposes.

    The review confirmed that under the National Parks Act (1975) a permit must be issued for any commercial activity undertaken within any park scheduled under the Act. This includes the activities of individuals or groups conducting photography for commercial publications.

    A permit is required to ensure that photography activities are directed to the most suitable places and to minimise potential conflict with other licensees and with the experiences of other park visitors. A permit also ensures that activities are carried out with the appropriate risk management procedures and insurance cover, as deemed by the Victorian Government.

    The Commercial Filming and Photography Policy has been in place for over 10 years. In 2001, Parks Victoria reviewed the policy and the process for allocating commercial filming and photography permits to ensure permits are allocated in a fair and equitable manner. This review was done in consultation with the Melbourne Film Office, Australian Institute of Professional Photographers and Australian Commercial and Magazine Photographers. The Parks Victoria Commercial Filming and Photography Permit process is recognised by these groups as industry best practice.

    In response to your queries I have listed the following points to provide you with further clarification.

    Area of Interest One: Who does not require a permit

    · Individual amateur photographers taking photographs for personal interest.

    · Photography for news current affairs purposes (however producers should liaise with Parks Victoria staff).

    · Small scale editorial photography for books, magazines and newspapers.

    · Wedding / portrait photographers where the photography is included in an event permit.

    Therefore, photographs taken by a non-professional (amateur) photographer for personal interest for the purpose of a photographic exhibition or competition viewed by club members and the public, or images posted on a social network site, personal web page and stock library for personal enjoyment do not require a permit.

    The governing principle within the National Parks Act (1975) clearly determines that a permit is required if an individual, company, institution or group receives, or is likely to receive financial benefit directly relating to their sourcing of an image or series of images upon filming or photography in a Parks Victoria managed area.

    Area Interest Two: Removal of a professional or non-professional photographer from a Victorian National Park

    It is an offence under section 43 of the National Parks Act (1975) to carry out a trade or business in a park unless under or in accordance with a licence, permit, tenancy, agreement or any other authority granted under the Act. Section 38(1)(b)(c) of the Act allows an authorised officer, where he or she believes on reasonable grounds that a person in a park is contravening the Act or the regulations, to request the person to leave the park, or produce for inspection the licence, permit or other authority.

    Furthermore, it is an offence under section 45(4) of the Act for a person who is the holder of a licence, permit or other authority referred to in section 38 to refuse or fail to comply with a request for an authorised officer under that section for the production of the licence, permit or other authority. Under section 45(5), the person has 14 days after the request is made to comply with a request to produce the permit.

    Area of Interest Three: Small scale editorial photography

    Small scale editorial photography is defined as a maximum of one photographer and one assistant with low level equipment (such as that which fits into a backpack or a single tripod) and uses no props or talent. Equipment carried by a photographer in a large camera bag is acceptable under the definition of small scale photography.

    I trust that the above information addresses your concerns and thank you for your time in contacting the Minister regarding your concerns.

    Should you require further advice on this matter please contact Sasha Sarago on 03 8627 4982 or me.

    Yours sincerely

    Dianne Smith | Manager, Tourism Partnerships | Parks Victoria
    T: 8627 4817 M: 0419 361 314 | Level 10, 535 Bourke St, Melbourne, 3000

    http://www.parkweb.vic.gov.au

    IMPORTANT

  6. Geoff Rehmet says:

    I have still had no response to my emails to Parks Victoria querying the progress of the process.
    There seems to be no consistency in dealing with queries regarding these policies.

  7. Pingback: Parks Victoria – more news

  8. Geoff Rehmet says:

    After a rather caustic email from me back to Parks Victoria, I received a response from Sasha Sarago, which seems to indicate that the review of Parks Victoria’s filming and photography policies is not yet complete.
    I will be most intrigued to know what is actually going on at Parks Victoria. I will keep you posted if I hear any more.

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