Consumer protection under threat from new bill

The Victorian Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects and Association of Consulting Architects have expressed alarm that consumers will be placed at risk under proposed changes to the Architects Registration Board of Victoria (ARBV).

Under the Building, Planning and Heritage Legislation Amendment Bill, making its way through the Victorian Parliament, the ARBV would only require three board members to have an architectural qualification, with none required to be a registered architect, out of the board’s proposed total of nine members.

Currently, the ARBV, which is regulated by the Architects Act 1991, requires a ten-member board that includes five registered architects with various practice, government and academic backgrounds, alongside important consumer and construction industry representatives.

President of the Institute’s Victorian Chapter, David Wagner, said:

“Consumer protection through regulation of the profession is being placed at risk. The current composition has ensured a robust base of direct professional insights into the high standards required for architectural professional conduct and practice competency alongside the important perspectives of the consumer and construction industry stakeholders.”

Before a person who has graduated with architectural qualifications is able to be registered with any Australian state or territory Architects Board, they must pass a comprehensive registration examination process. This includes satisfying a range of competency requirements including demonstrating suitable architectural experience over a requisite period followed by written as well as oral examinations on practice matters.  This process generally takes a further five years after graduation with a master’s degree before registration can be attained.

The move to no registered members of the profession is markedly out of step with other professional registration and regulation boards. Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia and the Medical Board of Australia each have eight members from their professions on their respective 11 and 12-member boards. The five-member Victorian Legal Admissions Board comprises entirely legal professionals including the Chief Justice. Eleven of the 12 members of the Council of the Victorian Institute of Teaching, who register and regulate teachers, are members of that profession.

President of ACA’s Victorian Executive, Paul Viney, said:

“We understand the primary aim of the legislation is to provide consumer protection and that the board needs to be independent, but Architecture is a complex process that requires significant industry expertise and experience. The proposed changes do not equip the board to adequately undertake its role with the required experience, expertise and balance. It is critical that this board has members who are actually registered architects.  We call on new Planning Minister, Ms. Lizzie Blandthorn (MLA), to amend the proposed substituted Section 47 in order to retain five registered architects on the new nine-member board.”

 

For media enquiries contact: 

Rosanne Barrett on behalf of the Australian Institute of Architects | | M. 0425 420 024 | hello@barrettcomms.com.au 

Paul Zanatta | National Advocacy and PolicyManager | M. 0400 340 292 | paul.zanatta@architecture.com.au