After a hiatus of almost 12 months, the State Government has returned to progressing building reform with the ultimate aim of promulgating a new Building Act.  Back in May last year, the chair of the Expert Panel on Building Reform, Anna Cronin, became CEO of the Victorian Building Authority, and the Expert Panel appeared to be in recess.  The Government has now appointed a new Chair, Dan O’Brien, who also is CEO of Cladding Safety Victoria as well as appointing Gemma Varley PSM, an experienced legislative drafter, to reinvigorate the panel for its last and final stage.


The Expert Panel has previously issued:

  • Framework for Reform (2021)
  • Stage One: Final Report to Government (2021)
  • Building Reform: Paper Two (2023)


The Expert panel is charged with preparing a report for the Minister of Planning and Suburbs on how the Building Act should be written by late April/early May of this year to facilitate Stage 3.  The review generally is intended to design a modern building regulatory system for Victoria that:


  • delivers safe, compliant, durable, affordable, and sustainable housing and buildings efficiently and effectively;
  • protects consumers and boosts consumer confidence in the industry and in regulators;
  • supports skilled and experienced practitioners to carry out compliant and safe practices; and
  • supports regulators to enforce compliance effectively and efficiently.


Amongst the exploration of a breadth of considerations across the construction industry, the previous reports explored the registration and regulation of architects.


Last week the Institute met with the new Chair to ask about the orientation of the report and views on the regulation of the architectural profession.   The meeting was drawn to the current work of Cladding Safety Victoria and their recent report on the buildings having their combustible cladding replaced, which has discovered other defective building works, commonly waterproofing issues across some 50% of these buildings.  It is the view of Cladding Safety Victoria that these defects are commonly the result of inadequate documentation and that registered architects are generally the authors of these documents.  Their concern is that architects must be adequately trained and regulated to achieve documents that comply with the National Construction Code and if documentation falls short of NCC, that architects should be held to account.


We have requested further information on the buildings subject to Cladding Safety Victoria’s investigations, namely,

  • the percentage of projects where architects were the authors of the documentation
  • the percentage of projects utilising design and construct contracts novating architects or building designers
  • the percentage completeness of documentation achieved before the documenters are novated
  • the percentage of projects where architects have been engaged to prepare base drawings only and not detailed construction documentation
  • the percentage of Class 2 buildings


We are concerned that observations about partial services or inadequate work are not unfairly used to disparagingly generalise about the most educated and highly regulated profession in the construction industry.  Nonetheless the Institute underlines that members are obligated to prepare thorough construction documentation that complies with the NCC and all relevant standards.  The Institute provides CPD programmes and learning materials to assist members with understanding the latest requirements and encourages members to ensure they maintain their regulatory knowledge.  We will keep members appraised of developments in this building reform field.


Last week the Institute also met with Housing Statement Implementation Deputy Secretary Jeroen Weimar. The Deputy Secretary is charged with assisting the forward momentum of the delivery of the government’s housing programme and was most interested to hear the Institute’s observations and suggestions on how the programme might be progressed.  We are arranging for further meetings with Mr Weimar and look forward to assisting in this important and urgent community need.


In addition to the Institute’s two-day National Council held earlier last week, our Chapter also saw the presentation of the Victorian Architecture Awards entries at RMIT’s Design Hub at the weekend.  I can testify that the standard of projects presented was very high and speaks volumes for the health of the profession.   Thanks to the Chapter’s staff for organising the presentation days as well as their lead-up, and in particular special mention to our new awards coordinator, Tasha Ugrinic for the huge effort to coordinate so many entries and jurors.  We look forward to the next stage of the programme and the visits of those projects fortunate to be selected in the respective shortlists.


David Wagner FRAIA
President of the Victorian Chapter

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