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Whilst you may want to pick up a camera and start filming straight away, it is important you first understand Western Australia’s rules and regulations that relate to filming, to ensure you and your crew are safe, happy and avoid jail time.

Screenwest’s information sheet Filming in Western Australia provides an overview of the key information you will need to know before beginning production.

Please Note: The information included is of a general nature only. It has been drawn from a variety of sources and is not intended as legal, accounting or any other form of professional advice. Screenwest makes no representations that this information is a substitute for external professional advice obtained from a third party. Nor should the inclusion of any organisation be seen as an endorsement or recommendation of that organisation. No representation is made regarding the appropriateness of any organisation to your project. Screenwest has undertaken all reasonable measures to ensure the accuracy of information included. It specifically disclaims any liability, for loss or risk, personal or otherwise, which may be incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents of this information sheet.

Filming on Roads

The WA Department of Transport will generally support filming activities on the road network, provided that road infrastructure is not damaged, impact to traffic flow is minimal and can be safely managed, and the safety of road users and the public is not compromised.

The relevant local council and/or Main Roads Western Australia must give written permission for any filming activities to be conducted on public roads and streets. Western Australian road traffic regulations do not apply to filming on a private road, or a road that will be fully closed. The filming activity however, is still subject to Western Australian Occupational Health and Safety regulations, the Film and Television Safety Guidance Notes and the Film Industry Recommended Safety Code.

A permit is required from the Western Australian Department of Transport where Specialised Filming Vehicles (SFV) are being utilised (this includes ‘tracking’ and/or ‘Low Loader’ vehicles), or if a modified vehicle is being utilised, which includes camera mounts, rigging, and dressed vehicles (i.e. Police car, left hand drive, number plates being changed).

For detailed information as to whether a permit exemption is required for your filming activity, and what Traffic Management controls are required to be implemented please read this report on current WA Road Traffic Regulations.

If your filming activity requires a Department of Transport Exemption Application Form , please ensure the application form is completed and submitted as indicated.

Filming with WA Police

As one of the busiest and most public of State Government agencies, Western Australia Police regularly receives requests for assistance in filming across a range of projects.

While each request is assessed on its merit, it is often not feasible or practical for WA Police to engage in these proposals.

The general consideration applied to any such request is this: what benefit does WA Police gain from such involvement, balanced against the imposition on public resources?

Sometimes the answer is simply the promotion of the good work being done on a daily basis by the officers and staff of WA Police, but this also needs to be balanced against the time and effort required. Certainly, if there is a chance that the reputation of the agency could be harmed in any way then participation would not be forthcoming.

Please note that in all cases the first point of contact for WA Police filming is to email police.media@police.wa.gov.au.

With that in mind, here is a set of guidelines for filming requests to WA Police:

  • Approach WA Police Media and Corporate Communications in the first instance via police.media@police.wa.gov.au. While you will be dealing with police at a local level, they may not be aware of some of the broader implications for involvement in a film project.
  • Get in early. Submit all documents in one email, one month (four weeks) before the project is about to start shooting. Film projects require approval by a range of people with adequate time to think about the project. The more notice given, the greater the chance of due consideration.
  • Provide a clear outline of police involvement in the story. Why do you need police as part of the story, and how will WA Police be depicted?
  • Provide a script. A working script is mandatory for proper consideration to be given to a project. It is vital for WA Police to have an understanding of how they would fit in to the production.
  • Provide an accurate assessment of time and resources required. If you need police involvement for eight hours to film a scene you must declare that, as it has implications for overtime, rostering etc. Police officers get very fidgety waiting on film sets when they have not been advised of the time requirements and have other duties to fulfil to the community.
  • WA Police will always reserve the right to withdraw officers at any time for operational reasons. Their duty to serve and protect the community is paramount.
  • Police uniforms, equipment or vehicles are never to be used by personnel other than WA Police officers. To be clear, actors are not permitted to wear WA Police uniforms. Permission to use the WA Police logo must also be granted prior to useage and can be done so via police.media@police.wa.gov.au .
  • Any filming of WA Police facilities such as Police Stations that is more than incidental also requires permission. For instance, any scenes depicting characters attending an existing Police Station requires permission to film there.
Working with Indigenous People

There are protocols for working with Indigenous content and communities. Screen Australia has developed the document Pathways and Protocols: A filmmaker’s guide to working with Indigenous people, culture and concepts. It provides advice about the ethical and legal issues involved in transferring Indigenous cultural material to the screen. It covers documentary and drama, including short dramas, feature films and television drama. Using real case studies as practical examples, the guide assists and encourages recognition and respect for the images, knowledge and stories of Indigenous people.

The guide also includes contact details for key organisations such as land councils*, Indigenous media associations and broadcasters, industry agencies, Indigenous cultural advisors, script consultants and permit offices.

*For more information about Western Australia’s Aboriginal Land and Sea Councils, see our interactive Indigenous Map.

Filming on Indigenous Land

If you are filming on Indigenous lands you will need to obtain a permit which is granted through the Aboriginal Lands Trust at the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. There is no cost for the permit, which is a legal requirement under the Aboriginal Affairs Planning Authority (AAPA). People of Aboriginal descent, members of either House of Parliament in both the State and Commonwealth Governments and others authorised by the AAPA are exempt.

Permits are granted for a period of time sufficient to allow travel through the reserve by the most direct route. Permission can also be obtained from the resident Aboriginal communities for applicants who want to travel off the main road. Permits are not required for travel on public roads.

Location Film Permits

Many areas of Western Australia require permits for filming. Permits are needed for all National Parks, Aboriginal Lands and many towns and cities.

For National Parks contact the Department of Environment and Conservation.

For further information on filming on Indigenous lands, please refer to the Filming on Indigenous Land FAQ above.

For all other permit enquiries, contact the local government in the area you intend to film in by using our Metro Councils Interactive Map and Regional Councils Interactive Map.

Leasehold pastoral land should be treated the same way as private property, with permissions sought from the owner of the lease.

Occupational Health & Safety

The Screenwest Online Production Safety Management Plan* for film and television industry employers is a free online resource for Western Australian screen practitioners: to help them meet compliance requirements to have a safety system in place as per Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Western Australian legislation. The Production Safety Management Plan will be updated annually or when there are legislative changes or industry requirements.

All persons involved in a film and television project have a role to play in eliminating or minimising risk and injury to persons and property.

The primary responsibility for safety legally falls on employers (the production company), which should make every reasonable provision for the health, safety and welfare of their employees, contractors, sub-contractors, relevant third parties, the public and the environment by providing and maintaining a safe and healthy work environment.

All employees have a duty of care to themselves and others and have a responsibility to participate in and comply with the safety measures implemented by their employer to minimise the risk of injury to themselves and others.

Work health and safety legislation requires productions to have in place safe systems of work to address safety risks to cast, crew, others and property. A production safety report is required by all productions in receipt of Screenwest funding, and as per the Film & Television Safety Guidance Notes must engage a graded safety consultant to write a safety report in compliance with the Film Industry Recommended Safety Code.

The safety report shall identify hazards and make recommendations for requirements for specialist personnel (stunt coordinators, special effects coordinators, armourers, safety supervisors etc.) to be engaged, along with procedures to be followed to control risks. It is important for producers to take note of the rights and duties of employers and employees contained in the OHS laws, and to comply with the relevant provisions concerning safety requirements.

The Production Safety Management Plan uses preventative measures to eliminate or minimise risk and injury to persons and property while providing evidence to demonstrate that all parties have properly exercised their legal and moral duty of care to self and all others affected by their work.

The Production Safety Management Plan (and its schedules and attachments) was developed by, and its copyright is owned by, WassonMoy Creative Compliance. Screenwest has a non-exclusive licence for the use of this Production Safety Management Plan in specific productions undertaken solely in the Western Australia jurisdiction. No approvals are granted for the Production Safety Management Plan (or any of its contents, schedules or attachments) to be used, reproduced or duplicated outside the Western Australia jurisdiction. This Production Safety Management Plan does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon to satisfy obligations under any law except as expressly agreed with WassonMoy Creative Compliance.