Finding Australian legislation

Find Commonwealth, Victorian and state Acts, bills and explanatory memoranda.

Find current legislation

Printed and older legislation

Older legislation online

Copies of all Victorian acts from 1852 to 1995 can be accessed on the AustLII website. The acts are listed by year and act number, and by name. You can search the acts by title or keyword using the database search option. Once accessed, the text of each individual PDF act can also be searched.

Printed copies

The State Library holds printed copies of the acts of the Victorian Parliament. This includes current and recent acts, and acts from the 19th and early 20th century. Check the links under the 'Available' heading on the record for locations.

Acts and ordinances in force in Victoria, edited by Travers Adamson, helps trace acts prior to 1855/6, including New South Wales acts in force here at that date. It includes a detailed subject index.

Consolidations

A consolidation occurs when all current legislation and statutory instruments:

  • have any necessary updates or corrections made
  • have any obsolete or unnecessary parts removed
  • are reintroduced to parliament and assented to again.

This makes the newly printed set of the legislation much easier to read and understand.

This is a large undertaking, so consolidations do not occur often.

Consolidations of Victorian acts were done in 1890, 1915, 1929 and 1958.  Sets of these consolidations are available in the Redmond Barry Reading Room.

 

Reprints or compilations

Reprinted acts will incorporate all amendments to an act at the point of reprinting.  So it represents the act as it stands at the time of printing.

The State Library holds reprints of acts generally from 1996. In some cases we may hold older reprints.

Finding 'point in time' Victorian legislation

The law that applies when something happens is the 'law as it is at that time'.  Acts are periodically amended by Parliament and you will need to track changes to the law and find the right historical version at the time relevant to the issue you are researching.

As an example, a legal issue from five years ago needs to be researched using the legislation as it was five years ago, not the legislation as it is today, or as it was when the act was originally proclaimed, as this may have been amended.

Locate the most recent version of the act prior to the date you are researching -

  • if you are researching a date after January 1997 you can find these reprints or consolidations online at the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website
  • when you locate an act on that site, use the list in the box on the right that 'Shows Version History' and open the version prior to the date you need
  • if you are researching earlier dates the Library may hold a paper copy reprint prior to the date you are researching

If we don't hold the reprint you can access the original act.

Once you have located the most relevant version of the act, you will then need to take into account any subsequent amendments prior to the date you are researching -

  • try Victorian statutes annotations to trace amendments to an act from the date of the reprint to the date relevant for your research. In this way you can reconstruct the act as it applied at the date relevant to your research

You can also do a keyword search on the AustlII database to locate amendments.

  • choose the Advanced Search option (below the search box) 
  • select the AustlII database Victoria: Historical Acts
  • choose a search option in the Find box - for instance all of these words
  • type in the keyword amend* and one or more other words in the title of the act you are researching
    • for example amend* railways should find amendments to acts with Railways in the title (when you click the Search button).
    • amend* electoral will find amendments to any act with electoral in the title
    • add more keywords to narrow your search. Using amend* will find  variations including amend, amending or amendment. The term amend was favoured in the 19th Century.

Disclaimer

Staff at the State Library of Victoria do not offer legal advice. Every effort is made to provide up to date, accurate and relevant legal information but this is not intended to replace qualified legal advice.