ARBV impacted by changes to Architects Act

A bill introduced into Victorian Parliament ten days ago will change Section 47 of the Architects Act 1991 to reduce the ARBV board from ten members to nine. The changes would require only three board members to have an architectural qualification, but no requirement for any of the board members to be an actually registered architect.

The existing board consists of ten board members, two of which are registered architects (selected via elections managed by ARBV), one as a nominee by Australian Institute of Architects, one nominee by Office of Victorian Government Architect, and one nominee by the heads of architecture schools. The other five board members include important consumer, government, and construction industry representatives. All nominees are approved by the Minister. The existing structure allows for a variety of registered architects, architectural graduates and industry leaders to be part of the board, subject to ministerial approval.

There is real concern that the new ARBV configuration could have no registered architects in the future. This does not appear to be a sensible solution for the registration board of the profession or for the protection of consumers.

Alarming change to ARBV from the Building, Planning and Heritage Legislation Amendment Bill.

This large (200 pages) bill (200 pages) was introduced into the lower house on June 23rd by the then Planning Minister, Richard Wynne. There had been no prior announcement, nor regulatory impact statement or other exposure draft released for public consultation.

The most alarming issue is the changes to the Architects Act 1991 to be introduced by the Amendment Bill. Proposed changes to Section 47 of the current Architects Act would only require three ARBV board members to have an architectural qualification, although none would be required to be a registered (for added emphasis) architect, out of the board’s total of nine members. The current ten-member board composition includes five currently registered architects with various practice, government and academic backgrounds alongside important consumer and construction industry representatives on the Board.

We have consequently written to new Planning Minister Lizzie Blandthorn (who was only sworn in on June 27th) A joint media statement with the ACA is being finalised for release. The Institute have also briefed the Shadow spokesperson for Planning and Heritage to seek amendment to this bill with respect to the need to retain five (registered) architects on the Board.

A summary of the changes to the Architects Act 1991 include:

  • reducing the size of the Board from 10 to 9
  • removing the power of the Board to appoint its own Chair and Deputy Chair who will, instead, be appointed by the Minister,
  • setting a regulated requirement for a four year strategic plan
  • extending Board and Panel appoints from 3 to 5 years
  • replacing Section 47 and repealing Section 48 – which gives effect to no longer having the various industry bodies including the Institute nor the universities having nominated representatives on the Board.
  • inclusion on the register for at least 5 years, that information pertaining to disciplinary or criminal sanctions of an architect. This period commences from the time following any timeframes for VCAT or court appeals.
  • amendments similar to those for other practitioners that are enabling changes required to give effect to the Commonwealth’s Automatic Mutual Recognition legislation

Almost half of the bill introduces changes to the Heritage Act 2017. Some of the changes include:

  • Nominations of additional land in heritage applications
  • Adding “land” to the phrase, “place or object” in a number of sections.
  • An Exclusion determination as a new type of determination that can be made by the Executive Directo
  • Powers of entry to also require written consent or 2 days’ clear notice to be given to owners of an unoccupied residence.

The Bill also introduces positive changes – essentially pre-announcing Victoria’s building reforms including the legislative establishment of the State Building Surveyor and the create of a Building Monitor for Residential buildings as per the announcements in this year’s state budget. A further positive move is the establishment of legislated requirement for electronic building manuals.