Access Agreements

(Previously called Research Permits)

Parks Victoria supports universities, other research institutions and individuals to do research in parks, reserves, ports, waterways and on piers. We encourage and support research projects in nature.

We’re currently improving our research application process making it easier to undertake research in Victoria’s parks and waterways.

As part of simplifying the application process, Parks Victoria will issue a research permit for activities in all parks and waterways it manages (previously issued by DELWP). The new research permit, called an ‘Access Agreement for Research Activities’ is managed through this ParkConnect program.

What is an Access Agreement?

An Access Agreement for Research Activities (replaces Research Permits) authorises researchers to access parks and waterways we manage to carry out research. An application for an access agreement must:

  • be consistent with Parks Victoria management objectives, and legislative requirements, and
  • address all safety, environment, and heritage risks

Are existing Research Permits still valid?

Yes. To minimise disruptions for researchers, all existing permits will remain valid. Pending permit applications or requests for amendments will continue to be processed and applicants will be contacted if additional information is required. 

Why do I need an Access Agreement for Research Activities?

The Access Agreement exempts the researcher from certain park rules that would otherwise prevent them from conducting the research in a park or waterway managed by Parks Victoria. It also ensures that risks to park values are managed and it’s safe for researchers to access the park without planned park management operations causing a risk to their safety (Eg. a planned burn activity being carried out in the park).

Who applies for the Access Agreement?

The ‘Researcher’ applies for the Access Agreement on behalf of the organisation or as an individual. The application does not have to list all the researchers involved, and approved Access Agreements do not need to be amended if the researchers involved in the project changes at a later date.

Do I need to apply for an Access Agreement for Research Activities?

Some types of research activities on land managed by Parks Victoria are classed as low-risk and low-impact to the natural environment. In these cases, an Access Agreement for Research Activities may not be required. Some examples include:

  • activities that are observation only
  • activities that could be undertaken by a regular park visitor
  • no equipment left within a park; including markers, stakes, fences, nets, traps, cameras
  • no removal of anything from a park (IE. same as a regular park visitor)
  • no disturbance of soil (IE. soil, rock, sand, sediment disturbance or digging; including but not limited to pitfall traps, remote camera trap poles, sampling, soil probes, temperature loggers, etc.)
  • no access to parks or areas of parks that are usually closed to park visitors.

How long does it take to process?

New applications for an Access Agreement may take a up to 4 weeks. Upon successful review, Parks Victoria will send the researcher the Access Agreement to be signed with relevant conditions.

Do volunteers and third parties need an Access Agreement?

Volunteers with Parks Victoria or a volunteer organisation affiliated with Parks Victoria may not require an Access Agreement. However, you still need to obtain the relevant permit(s) from DELWP if required. We encourage you to contact the Parks Victoria Customer Support team to clarify – see contact details at bottom of this page.

Third parties working in partnership or on behalf of Parks Victoria (Eg. contractors) may not require an Access Agreement. However, you still need to obtain the relevant permit(s) from DELWP if required. We encourage you to contact the Parks Victoria Customer Support team to clarify – see contact details at bottom of this page. 

What other permits might I need?

Knowing which permit(s) you require can be complex as it depends on the type of research activity you plan to do and where. To help you understand what research permits you will need, together with DELWP, we’ve developed this Pre-Application Checklist. We recommend you complete it before you start your application to ensure you apply for the right permit, to the right agency and with the right supporting documentation.

Research activities requiring approval under the Wildlife Act or Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act now require a separate permit from DELWP. To apply for these permits, go to Research Permits (DELWP)

A summary of the various permits you may need to undertake research in Victoria’s natural environment and the agency responsible to issue them can be found on the Access Agreements page on the Parks Victoria website.

How do I apply for an Access Agreement?

Step 1

Outline research scope and find out what permit(s) you may need:

  • Research purpose and scope
  • Methodology/description of research: conducting research in ways that cause minimal impact within the natural environment is important
  • Name of the park(s) you wish to undertake research
  • Species
  • Issues and interests
  • Identify research permit(s) you need using this Pre-Application Checklist and which agencies issue them

Step 2

Obtain supporting documents for the application:

  • Map(s): showing specific location points of proposed research activity
  • Certificate of Currency/public liability insurance ($20 million): required for individuals and organisations
  • OHS/Risk Management Plans
  • Work Plans: outline and frequency of planned research activities

Keeping researchers, visitors and staff safe in parks and waterways is a key priority. The more aware you are of the risks, the better informed and prepared you can be to keep yourself and others safe.

Step 3

Complete the application:

  • Log into ParkConnect (or register for the first time)
  • Complete the Application Form for an Access Agreement

Step 4

Add any additional researchers:

  • name
  • email address

Including additional researchers in the application will allow them to access your research activity in ParkConnect. They can then lodge planned research activities to obtain approval from Parks Victoria prior to going onsite (a standard condition of the Access Agreement for safety reasons).

How long does it take to complete an Access Agreement application?

Whilst it depends on the complexity of the research activity, the average Access Agreement application should take researchers approx. 20-30mins to complete once you have all the required information to-hand. 

What happens after I submit my application?

You will receive a confirmation email that we have received your application. Applications are assessed by our Customer Support team and they will contact you if they require further information. New applications for an Access Agreement may take up to 4 weeks. Upon successful review, Parks Victoria will send you the Access Agreement to be signed with relevant conditions.

What happens after the Access Agreement is approved?

After the Access Agreement is approved, a researcher must log into ParkConnect and enter their planned research activities. These are the specific details of the proposed research activities including time, duration, location, etc. The Area Chief Ranger will check other park management activities or events happening in the park and provide approval via ParkConnect to proceed. For safety reasons, planned activities must be approved by the Area Chief Ranger before researchers may access parks and reserves to undertake research.

Role of the Area Chief Ranger

Area Chief Rangers will consider planned activities and:

  • provide information about accessible roads and tracks and if conditions are safe for vehicle access
  • establish emergency procedures and communications procedures in the event of an emergency
  • confirm for your specific fieldwork location and any access points to that location that there are no:
    • scheduled prescribed burns, animal control program and/or plant control programs
    • bush fires currently burning
  • allow for an on-site induction by Parks Victoria staff if required.