In summary, discarding of needles and syringes in public areas would be an offence under litter management legislation.

Australian Capital Territory
New South Wales
Northern Territory
Queensland
South Australia
Tasmania
Victoria
Western Australia

Australian Capital Territory

Applicability

Provisions could apply to any person who discards needles/syringes in public areas – not in a designated container.

Litter Act 2004

Definition

s7 Meaning of litter

In this Act: litter includes any solid or liquid waste, whether domestic or commercial, and also includes, for example—
  1. any glass, metal, cigarette butt, plastic, paper, fabric, wood, food, abandoned vehicle and vehicle part, construction or demolition material, garden remnants and clippings, soil, sand or rocks; and

  2. any material, substance or thing deposited at a place if its size, shape, nature or volume makes the place untidy or adversely affects the proper use of the place.

s8 LitteringTop of page
  1. A person must not deposit litter at a public place.

  2. A person commits an offence if—

    1. the person deposits litter anywhere; and

    2. it escapes, or is likely to escape, into or onto a public place.
6. For subsection (2), escape into or onto a public place includes fall, descend and percolate, and be blown or washed, into or onto the place.

7. An offence against this section is a strict liability offence.

s9 Aggravated littering

A person commits the offence of aggravated littering if the person intentionally deposits at a public place litter that, by its nature or the way it is deposited, is likely to cause injury to a person or animal, or to damage property.

Penalty

Maximum penalty for littering (s8): 10 penalty units.

Maximum penalty for aggravated littering (s9): 50 penalty units, imprisonment for 6 months or both.

New South Wales

Applicability

Provisions could apply to any person who discards needles/syringes in public areas – not in a designated container.

Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997

Definition

"litter includes":
  1. any solid or liquid domestic or commercial refuse, debris or rubbish and, without limiting the generality of the above, includes any glass, metal, cigarette butts, paper, fabric, wood, food, abandoned vehicles, abandoned vehicle parts, construction or demolition material, garden remnants and clippings, soil, sand or rocks, and

  2. any other material, substance or thing deposited in or on a place if its size, shape, nature or volume makes the place where it is deposited disorderly or detrimentally affects the proper use of that place, deposited in or on a place, whether or not it has any value when or after being deposited in or on the place.
"syringe" means a hypodermic syringe, and includes anything designed for use or intended to be used as part of such a syringe, and also includes a needle designed for use or intended to be used in connection with such a syringe.

s145 Littering generally

1. Offence of litteringTop of page

A person who deposits litter in or on a public place or an open private place is guilty of an offence.

3. Exceptions: public places

Subsection (1) does not apply to a person who deposited the litter in or on a public place, if the person:
  1. deposited the litter in or on the place:

    1. in a receptacle provided by the custodian of the place for the depositing of litter, and

    2. in accordance with any conditions specified by the custodian, by means of a notice displayed on or in the vicinity of the receptacle, in relation to the depositing of litter in the receptacle, or
s145A Aggravated littering

1. Aggravated littering

A person is guilty of the offence of aggravated littering under this section if the person commits an offence under section 145 in circumstances of aggravation.

2. Circumstances of aggravation

For the purposes of this section, circumstances of aggravation means circumstances in which the litter deposited by the alleged offender:
  1. caused or contributed to appreciable danger or harm to any persons, animals, premises or property, or

  2. was reasonably likely to cause or contribute to such danger or harm (whether or not any such danger or harm was actually caused), because of the volume or kind of litter deposited, or the manner in which it was deposited, or the place in or on which it was deposited.
4. For the purposes of this section, circumstances of aggravation also means circumstances in which the litter deposited by the alleged offender comprised or included a syringe. It is not necessary to establish, in relation to those circumstances, the matters referred to in subsection (2).

Penalty

Maximum penalty for littering (s145): 10 penalty units.

Maximum penalty for aggravated littering (s145a) (instead of any penalty under section 145):
  • in the case of a corporation— 50 penalty units, or

  • in the case of an individual— 30 penalty units.
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Northern Territory

Applicability

Provisions could apply to any person who discards needles/syringes in public areas – not in a designated container.

Litter Act

Definition

"litter" means litter, garbage, rubbish, refuse or waste matter, and includes the body of a dead animal;

s6. Litter
  1. Subject to this section, a person shall not leave, throw, deposit or abandon litter in, onto or from a public place or vacant Crown land elsewhere than into an authorized receptacle.

Penalty

Penalty for littering: $2,000.

S6(4) The penalty for an offence against this section is a fine not exceeding $2,000 but, where a person is found guilty of an offence against this section and the litter left, thrown, deposited or abandoned was, in the opinion of the court, liable to cause injury to, or danger to the health of, a person using the public place or vacant Crown land or damage to property, the court may impose a fine not exceeding $3,000 for the offence.

Queensland

Applicability

Applies to any person who throws, drops or otherwise puts the litter or waste on the place.

This regulation would apply to a person who disposes of a hypodermic needle in a park and does not place that hypodermic needle in a container at the place, but disposes of it onto the ground.

Environment Protection (Waste Management) Regulation 2000 Part 2

Definition

s8 a person must not unlawfully dispose of litter at a place

Penalty

Penalty for littering: 20 penalty units.

Environment Protection (Waste Management) Regulation 2000 reg 49 (1)

Definition

"sharp" means an object or device having sharp points, protuberances or cutting edges that are capable of causing a penetrating injury to humans.

Penalty

Penalty for littering: 20 penalty units.
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South Australia

Applicability

Provisions could apply to any person who discards needles/syringes in public areas – not in a designated container.

Local Government Act 1999

Definition

"litter" includes bottles, cans, cartons, packages, paper, glass and food stuffs;

"rubbish" includes litter and waste matter;

Zero Waste SA Act 2004

s6 Functions of Zero Waste SA

The functions of Zero Waste SA are

(iii) programs for the prevention of litter and illegal dumping;

Definition

s235 Deposit of rubbish etc
  1. A person who, without the council's authorisation or permit

    1. deposits rubbish on a public road or public place; or

    2. deposits goods, materials, earth, stone, gravel, or any other substance on a public road or public place,

      is guilty of an offence.

Penalty

Maximum penalty for deposit of rubbish (s235): $5 000.

Expiation fee: $315.
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Tasmania

Applicability

Provision could apply to any person who deposits or casts litter onto any land not owned by them and it is not deposited into the correct receptacle.

It is most likely that a person would be "littering" if they deposited a needle/syringe into a public waste, recycling or litter container as the container would not have been "intended" for these wastes.

Litter Act 1973

Definition

Note that there is a review of this Act in progress. "litter" includes rubbish, refuse, junk, filth, garbage, scrap, or other articles or material abandoned or unwanted by the owner or possessor thereof.

Penalty

Penalty for deposit of litter generally: 20 penalty units.

Victoria

Applicability

Provisions could apply to any person who discards needles/syringes in public areas – not in a designated container.

It is most likely that a person would not be "littering" if they deposited a needle/syringe into a public waste, recycling or litter container.

Environment Protection Act 1970, Part VIIA—Litter and Material that May Become Litter

Definition

"litter" includes any solid or liquid domestic or commercial waste, refuse, debris or rubbish and, without limiting the generality of the above, includes any waste glass, metal, plastic, paper, fabric, wood, food, soil, sand, concrete or rocks, abandoned vehicles, abandoned vehicle parts and garden remnants and clippings, but does not include any gases, dust or smoke or any waste that is produced or emitted during, or as a result of, any of the normal operations of the mining, building or manufacturing industry or of any primary industry.

Penalty

Penalty for deposit of litter generally: 40 penalty units.

Penalty for aggravated littering (b) the intentional deposit of litter that was a danger to any person or animal or to any land, waters or vehicle: 60 penalty units or imprisonment for 1 month or both.
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Western Australia

Applicability

Provisions could apply to any person who discards needles/syringes in public areas – not in a designated container.

Litter Act 1979

Definition

"litter" includes
  1. all kinds of rubbish, refuse, junk, garbage or scrap; and

  2. any articles or material abandoned or unwanted by the owner or the person in possession thereof,
but does not include dust, smoke or other like products emitted or produced during the normal operations of any mining, extractive, primary or manufacturing industry;

s23. Littering

Any person who deposits litter, or causes litter to be deposited, on any land or on or into any waters commits an offence unless the litter is deposited
  1. on private land by consent;

  2. in an appointed area;

  3. in a place or receptacle set aside or provided for that purpose; or

  4. on land adjacent to private land by arrangement with, or at the invitation of, a public authority with a view to the litter being collected and removed by the public authority.

Penalty

Penalty for littering (s23): $1,000

Litter Regulations 1981

s6. Domestic or commercial waste not to be deposited in litter receptacle
  1. Except with the consent of a public authority a person shall not deposit any domestic or commercial waste in a public litter receptacle.

  2. In this regulation:

    Top of page"commercial waste" means waste material of any kind generated by shops, offices, industrial premises, hotels, restaurants and hospitals;

    "domestic waste" means waste material of any kind generated by private dwellings and includes garbage, lawn clippings and old furnishings.