As you will be well aware, significant rains that Victorians have experienced of late have manifested as devastating floods across parts of Melbourne and regional Victoria, including extensive flooding in the Echuca, Shepparton and Wangaratta regions. Floods have spread across towns and properties, with the loss of lives, ravaging properties, businesses, livestock and wildlife. We acknowledge and empathize with the pain, anxiety and trauma that these communities are experiencing and forward our best wishes to all effected during these difficult times. The Institute has contacted members in these regions to better understand what they are going though and to assess how we might prioritise our activities and actions to be of assistance.
The floods point to the impact of our changing climate and how we must progress towards net zero carbon, sustainable design and a greater respect for country which are all issues we are currently promoting as policy priorities during the lead-up to the state election with the intent that they be progressed by the next Victorian government. Authorities also need to develop an easier to access, universal system for setting permissible development above flood levels that is regularly reviewed rather than the current combination of differing levels prescribed by municipal and water authorities that require lengthy and costly application processes. Improved planning controls to prevent development on low lying land are far better than development being dependent upon levee construction to provide security against water inundation. Buy-back schemes for housing in flood prone lands are underway in Queensland and could also happen in Victoria while restoration of flood plain ecological systems would also contribute to mitigating the extent of future flooding.
In the interim, architects can render assistance through preparing damage reports of buildings impacted by the floods and assist building owners through design and technical solutions in reconstruction to minimize the effect of future flooding. The Institute’s Architects Assist service is a national organization of architects who are prepared to provide pro-bono assistance to victims of natural disasters such as the current flooding and I would encourage members to become involved or see how they might contribute.
I also wish to let members know that the Institute has been speaking to industry partners and receiving counsel on DELWP’s Alternative Dispute Resolution system to facilitate cost recovery on the Victorian Government’s combustible cladding programme. In the interest of allowing members to fully appreciate the content and character of the Government’s ADR programme, we have a link to the correspondence issued by DELWP which includes a link to DELWP’s survey for feedback on the ADR, due by 31 October. Be mindful that for those practices which have been involved in the installation of combustible cladding, it is recommended that they consult their insurers and legal advisers before engaging with either the ADR or DELWP’s survey.
David Wagner FRAIA
President of Victorian Chapter