Four weeks ago, our Chapter President Bill Krotiris, stepped down from the Presidency to take on the role of National President-elect, and I want to sincerely thank Bill for his enthusiastic leadership of the Chapter over the last two years in what has been a challenging period. Having been recently elected as Victorian President, I wish to publicly thank members for the encouragement and good wishes I’ve received as I now take on this role. I feel honoured to be in this position and will do my best to justify the confidence expressed.
Within days of my appointment, I became aware of legislation introduced by former Planning Minister Richard Wynne into Victoria’s Legislative Assembly called the ‘Building, Planning and Heritage Legislation Amendment (Administration and other Matters) Bill 2022’. Of most concern within this legislation are changes proposed to the Architects Act 1991 – specifically on the appointment and composition of the ARBV’s board where there will no longer be a mandatory requirement for an Architect to be on the board. This is a marked change from the existing board where 5 of the 10 seats are required by be filled by Architects. Disappointingly, there had been no prior consultation by the Government with our profession, nor with any of the bodies that currently nominate members for the board.
Neither has there been a regulatory impact statement to consider how such an action will impact the relationship with the Architectural Accreditation Council of Australia that sets architectural registration standards for candidates and for architectural courses at our universities. This proposal significantly impairs the capacity of the ARBV to provide reasonable Consumer Protection in the regulation of Architects by not mandating the presence of Architects who best understand the obligations and professional conduct in detail and can provide critical advice to the Board.
The Institute has approached both the administrative and political bodies that are propelling this ill-considered legislation and has undertaken the following actions:
Immediately wrote to the new Planning Minister, the Hon. Lizzie Blandthorn, explaining the consequences of such amendments and requested a meeting to discuss. This request has been declined.
Immediately issued a press release co-authored with the Association of Consulting Architects, alerting the community to the legislation
Requested and were granted a meeting with DELWP’s Executive Director of Building, Dr Trevor Pisciotta, who oversaw the drafting of the legislation
Briefed the Shadow Minister for Planning & Heritage, the Hon. Ryan Smith
Wrote to the Association of Architectural Schools of Australasia, which represents the universities. The AASA have subsequently written to the Minister articulating their concerns
Briefed journalists on the issue
Launched a campaign for Institute members to write to their local members
The legislation is up for further debate in the Legislative Assembly on 2 August, and with no engagement from the Minister and a Government majority in the House, we imagine the legislation will pass directly into the Legislative Council. The government does not hold a majority in the Upper House, so there is an opportunity for a real debate on the merits of the legislation.
We urge every single student, graduate and corporate member of the Institute, who has not already done so, to immediately write to both their elected upper and low house members and request amendment of this legislation. TO do so please this visit this webpage which includes a downloadable template letter/email.
The passing of the currently worded legislation will detrimentally impact consumer protection on architectural services, as well as the standing of the profession in our state. The opportunity to address this Bill is in your hands and now relies upon each one of us to take the democratic action of writing to our elected members and request the amendment of the legislation. A State Election later in the year also offers a subsequent (although belated) opportunity to raise concerns
On a final note, I would like to recognise and thank our former State Manager, Tim Leslie, for his sterling work over the last two years in re-establishing the role that had been vacant for some time and creating a sound platform for our Chapter’s ongoing activities. We wish Tim well in his future role at the OVGA.
We have been very fortunate that another from our profession, Daniel Moore RAIA B.Env Des M.Arch, the 2022 recipient of the Australian Institute of Architects Emerging Architect Prize, has been appointed as our new Victorian State Manager. Daniel would be known to many of you for his architectural advocacy work and in particular his production of the popular podcast ‘Hearing Architecture’. Daniel has been a director of Open Creative Studio since 2020 and has also represented EmAGN members on Victoria’s Chapter Council. Daniel is well aware of the demands of the role and the issues being discussed across the profession. We very much welcome Daniel and look forward to his energetic involvement as our new State Manager at this most demanding of times.
David Wagner FRAIA