Published on Australian Maritime Safety Authority (

Understanding Compliance Behaviour

AMSA’s approach to compliance starts from the premise that requirements established in legislation are necessary to ensure safe vessel operations, to combat marine pollution and to give effect to Australia’s international obligations. 

We consider that the responsibility for complying with legislation rests with the individual or organisation to which the legislation applies.

We know that our regulated community currently sits along a continuum of compliance for a variety of reasons and that we can use a range of measures to help all industry participants move toward voluntary compliance. 

Voluntary compliance is achieved when the regulated community chooses to comply with rules willingly or voluntarily. This may be because they:

The following table reflects our understanding of our regulated community’s approach to compliance. 

Approaching compliance behaviour in this way assists AMSA to address the actual causes of non-compliance rather than its outcomes. It also helps AMSA decide on its regulatory approach, possible actions, and the compliance tools that may be most appropriate (see AMSA’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy for more information on this aspect). 

Table 1: regulated community - approach to compliance","title":"Table 1: Regulated community – approach to compliance

Moving the regulated community toward voluntary compliance will assist AMSA to facilitate, over time, development of a culture that is safety-focussed and environmentally conscious across the maritime industry.

Whilst AMSA would like to work directly with every member of the regulated community, we have limited resources and must maximise the effectiveness of our direct interventions by focussing them on identified areas of risk to safety or to the environment or to Australia’s international reputation. 

Accordingly, a structured and evidence-based risk management approach will be used to determine compliance intervention priorities and actions. We will seek to understand the reason for non-compliance and respond accordingly - by offering support to those who are willing to be compliant and by identifying and deterring those who choose not to comply.

Nevertheless, we will consider use of all compliance tools where issues of safety need to be addressed.