Monitoring and auditing

Dams Safety NSW is responsible for monitoring declared dam owners’ compliance with dams safety legislation.

On completion of the transition period, we will exercise a range of proactive, planned compliance activities within the regulated community. These may include:

  • running a risk-based audit program with compliance priorities determined by dam consequence category and other risk factors
  • inspections determined on the basis of risk.

We will determine compliance with regulatory requirements by auditing the policies, processes and procedures of declared dam owners according to a schedule based on compliance priorities.

Audits can be in the form of desktop or field audits. We will generate reports after each audit.

Why we audit

Auditing dams allows Dams Safety NSW to use a systems-based approach to safety management. This facilitates a much more comprehensive identification of potential risk. Once an audit has taken place Dams Safety NSW clearly communicates whether declared dam owners need to change systems or practices.

Information from audits also assists to:

  • detect instances of non-compliance in a timely manner
  • determine the level of compliance and trends
  •  identify where action may be needed to avoid or mitigate dam safety risks
  • identify when and what type of education or enforcement may be needed
  • assess and review the effectiveness of regulatory projects, education and information programs.

Through audits we assure the safety of communities throughout NSW.

Our compliance priorities

Dams Safety NSW has made a commitment, in our Strategic Plan, to ‘Regularly report priorities and compliance activities’. By publishing our compliance priorities, we aim to increase transparency and community confidence in our regulatory activities and increase levels of voluntary compliance.

Our Vision: Safe dams for NSW

Our Mission: To empower, support and regulate dam owners in managing dams safety risks for the NSW community

Compliance audits

Our compliance audit program assesses requirements under the Dams Safety Act 2015 and the Dams Safety Regulation 2019. It examines the performance of declared dam owners to ensure the safety of their dams.

The audit program is developed using a risk-based approach to ensure timely and efficient allocation of DSNSW’s resources. The program addresses DSNSW Regulatory Policy, DSNSW Act and Regulatory requirements and AS/NZ ISO 19011:2019 framework for auditing management systems.

The integrity of our regulatory framework and the dedicated work of our operational team is a key to achieving dam safety outcomes.

Our compliance audit program will focus on:

  • Extreme, High A, B, C consequence category dams
  • Dams where there is active design, construction or major modification
  • Dams with wet tailings placement (mining), spillway gates and filling operations (pump fill dam)
  • Dams with poor compliance history.

Dams Safety NSW will periodically review its compliance priorities to ensure they remain relevant and consistent with our Strategic Plan.


Non-compliance is normally identified through the audit process or through other information sources.

Dams Safety NSW employs a graduated and proportionate approach to non-compliance, based on severity of the non-compliance (its potential harm to people, the environment or property). The approach to serious non-compliance also considers the declared dam owner’s culpability, co-operation and approach to the non-compliance, and the public interest.

Dam owners’ annual safety standards report

The 2015 Act requires owners of declared dams to publish a report demonstrating their compliance with safety standards.

Dams Safety NSW will publish a document detailing the full requirements of an annual safety standards report in 2021. It is likely that reports will cover:

  • reporting dam safety incidents
  • dam configuration changes
  • a summary of corrective actions taken
  • a summary of emergency plan exercises carried out.

The owner of a declared dam must report dam safety incidents to Dams Safety NSW in accordance with section 19 of the 2019 regulation.


Download Dam Information Form.

Download Declared Dam Owners Address Form.

Complete online Incident Reporting Form