Victorian Policy & Advocacy Update

The latest Victorian advocacy and policy update.

Keep Architects on the ARBV Campaign

A fortnight ago we alerted members in the Victorian Chapter newsletter to very concerning changes to the Architects Act 1991 that are to be introduced by the Building, Planning and Heritage Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 which was read in the Victorian Legislative Assembly on June 23rd by outgoing Planning Minister, the Hon. Richard Wynne.

The most serious concern of the Institute is that one of the proposed changes to Section 47 of the current Architects Act would only require three 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 need your help to support a campaign by emailing or speaking with your Victorian lower house (Legislative Assembly) or upper house (Legislative Council) member. Both houses are important as the bill’s debate will resume in the lower house at the beginning of next month but the amendments would be made in the upper house.

To support the campaign visit the Keep registered architects on the ARBV campaign webpage where there is:

  • more detailed explanation of the changes being introduced to the Architects Act
  • a template letter/email for members to send
  • a link to the Victorian Parliamentary website to find out details about your lower and upper house members

The Institute supports the move to a skills-based board but the Board needs to retain registered architects and consumer and construction industry representatives. The bill’s proposed changes will weaken consumer protection by removing any requirement to have registered architects on the Board and therefore the important insights into the conduct and competency standards of registered architects as well as removing the insights through representation of consumers and construction sector professions.

The Institute wrote to the new Planning Minister, Ms. Lizzie Blandthorn, less than a week after the amendment bill was introduced, and has also briefed the opposition about our concerns. A joint media release with the Association of Consulting Architects has also been issued. We have received feedback from members who have been engaging with our campaign since its launch a week ago. We ask all members across the state for their support.

Small Business Ventilation Program

Members may be interested to hear of this Victorian Government program to support their clients who have public-facing small businesses to improve building ventilation in areas accessible to customers and reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. Under the program, two types of support will be available:

  • Ventilation Rebate – A $500 rebate for immediate actions such as purchasing equipment or hiring a qualified tradesperson to undertake minor services to improve ventilation in areas accessible to customers
  • Ventilation Grant – Matched grants of $1000 to $5000 to enable public-facing small businesses who employ staff to invest in larger projects such as building works, engaging professional services or equipment to improve ventilation in areas accessible to customers

Small Business Ventilation Program – Ventilation Grant and Ventilation Rebate will close for applications at 11:00pm on Thursday 8 September 2022. To find out more visit: Small Business Ventilation Program

Victorian Government Neighbourhood Battery Initiative (NBI)

The Victorian Government is making available up to $2.32 million in grant funding to implement neighbourhood-scale batteries (including installation and commissioning) that demonstrate the ability to access multiple value streams. Applications opened on Monday, 6 June 2022 and close at 5.00pm Friday, 29 July 2022. Click here for more information.

Victorian Ready for Growth program.

Ready for Growth is a Victorian Government initiative to support 1000 Victorian businesses with high growth potential to access new markets and create jobs. It provides businesses with tailored advisory services by expert Growth Facilitators. The program is being delivered by Business Victoria with delivery partner BDO Australia.

Ready for Growth will help businesses:

  • develop a Growth Action Plan
  • build capabilities for growth
  • find grants and programs to support growth
  • improve connections to networks and ecosystems
  • connect to peers through the Ready for Growth Alumni Network

The program is open to June 2024. To find out more click here.

Australian Building Codes Board corrigendum – NCC 2019 and Australian Standards. 

The ABCB have issued a corrigendum for NCC 2019 and NCC 2019 Amendment 1. 

NCC 2019 and NCC 2019 Amendment 1 reflect the expiry date ‘1 May 2022’ relevant to some referenced Australian Standards in the notes to Table 1 of Schedule 4. The date of 1 May 2022 was specified on the expectation that the 2022 edition of the NCC would be adopted by states and territories on this date. 

It has since been agreed by Building Ministers to delay the adoption of NCC 2022 until 1 September 2022 in recognition of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the impacts to industry during a difficult economic time. 

The corrigendum, released in April, provides advice to NCC users for alternative expiry arrangements. For notes 2 and 9 that concern the AS 1530 series and AS 4072.1, 1 May 2022 is replaced with 1 September 2022. In note 4 that relates to the AS 1670 series, 1 May 2022 has been replaced with adoption of NCC 2025.