New tools for development assessments on the way

Harmonising and improving Australia’s various development assessment systems has been a long-term focus for both industry and government. In 1998, representatives from the Commonwealth Government met with State and Local Governments and professionals from the development industry to discuss how this could be achieved. The Development Assessment Forum (DAF) was a key result of that meeting.

Since then, the DAF has worked to reach agreement across Australia on ways to improve the processes involved in assessing and issuing development approvals. A key aim of these improvements is to reduce red tape, without sacrificing the quality of the decisions made during the assessment process.

Over the past 3 years, DAF has commissioned several reports that have investigated the various State planning systems and provided alternative frameworks and measures for assessing and approving developments.

These reports include:

  • State of Play—compares various State and Territory planning systems, describing their key components and their legislative and administrative structures;
  • Concepts and Scoping Paper—provides a comprehensive framework for the evaluation of development assessment processes and includes leading practice case studies;
  • Principles of Leading Practice in Development Assessment—provides a draft set of principles, based on the framework discussed in the paper listed above. The draft principles have been regularly reviewed and changed since the paper was published; and
  • Definitions Paper— proposes a national set of definitions dealing with operational aspects of development as distinct from land use aspects.

At a meeting in April 2000, DAF identified five key priorities for harmonising Australia’s development assessment systems:

  • The continued implementation of DAF’s ‘Principles of Leading Practice in Development Assessment’
  • The implementation of nationally consistent definitions and standards
  • The development of benchmarks for leading practice in development assessment
  • The promotion of information technology and e-business projects
  • Education and training in leading practices across all of these areas.

DAF has commissioned several consultancy groups to undertake projects to address these priorities including the projects described below.

Framework for decision-making, delegation and certification – this project aims to develop a leading practice framework for decision making, delegation and private certification in development assessment systems and develop performance guidelines and performance criteria for the participants in these processes, including public planning authorities.

Strategic planning – this project aims to identify and promote leading practice in strategic planning in the development assessment field.

Assessment definitions - the DAF Definitions Task Group has produced a National Development Assessment Definitions paper, comprising 18 definitions, which was disseminated for public comment in March.

For more information visit the DAF website at, or call the DAF Secretariat on 02-6274 8127 or email