Victorian Policy & Advocacy Update

The latest Victorian advocacy and policy updating including the COVID-19 restrictions update and more.

VICTORIA’S JULY 2021 COVID-19 OUTBREAK LOCKDOWN No. 5

The Institute’s Policy and Advocacy team has again been working on behalf of the Chapter, attending government information sessions and seeking clarity from the Victorian Government about the current Covid-19 outbreak circuit-breaker restrictions. We have subsequently been providing frequent updates to members. This has included ensuring that Architects and other consultants are including in the definition of Authorised Workers.  Victoria’s Employment Minister, Jaala Pulford, verbally assured the Policy and Advocacy Manager in direct response to a question put to the Minister during an online briefing hosted by the Minister and the Industry Coordination Centre of the Department of Jobs Precincts and Regions (DPJR) on Friday July 16th. We have been further provided with definitive advice received today (Monday July 19th) as result of direct inquiries the Institute was making prior to lockdown in anticipation of the current restrictions.

The advice the Institute has received from the Manager for Industry Engagement at DPJR is as follows:

“Thank you for your patience in responding to your email. As I’m sure you understand our team has been receiving a large volume of enquires.

 I understand your desire for unequivocal confirmation regarding the status of Architects, Draftspersons, Engineers, Building Surveyors and Inspectors and other consultants in the context of the permitted ‘Building and Construction Services’.

 While this has not been explicitly stated in the Directions, I am able to advise that your members would be well placed to consider the following two points within the restrictions:

  1. Work: If you can work from home, you must work from home (with the exception of Authorised Workers)
  2. Authorised Workers: Any person who performs work that is essential for the continued operation of – building and construction services

 On this basis, my advice is that if construction would not be able to continue without the presence of the Architects, Draftspersons, Engineers, Building Surveyors and Inspectors and other consultants, and it is not possible for them to conduct their work remotely (ie via video-conference) then they would be considered an Authorised Worker.

 I further advise that this interpretation be applied with utmost caution and only where considered absolutely necessary – and that compliance is maintained for all other protocols (CovidSafe Plans, Density Quotients, QR Codes etc).

This advice is now also on the FAQ section of How we work: Current restrictions webpage.

In response to a question from another industry body it was clarified that at this early stage of the lockdown that:

  • Renovation work at occupied residential premises is not permitted.
  • Landscaping and external work at occupied residential premises is not permitted. However, landscaping works may continue where they are occurring as part of a new build, or as a standalone project on an existing property where there are no residents.

These two points of advice about work at occupied premises can be found on the Construction Sector guidance webpage.

A further qualification was also provided in response to the question that renovation of an apartment in an occupied block of apartments is also currently not permitted.

To access the Institute’s Victorian Covid-19 updates visit here  or click on the Covid-19 Essential Information link at the top of the Victorian Chapter main page. If members follow @AusINSArch_VIC in Twitter, they can receive a notification each time a new update is posted on our Covid-19 Essential Information section of the Victorian Chapter web page.

BUILDING A CLIMATE-RESILIENT VICTORIA - CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION ACTION PLANS

There is a currently a Victorian ‘whole of government’ consultation underway to develop seven climate Adaptation Action Plans (AAP) scoping:

  • Primary Production – agriculture, productive fisheries and plantation forestry
  • Built Environment – cities, buildings, urban spaces, and infrastructure
  • Education and Training – early childhood, education, training and skills 
  • Health and Human Services – disease prevention, physical and mental health care, social support and assistance
  • Transport – passenger and freight movement, transport networks and vehicles
  • Natural Environment – land, water bodies, coastal waters, biodiversity and ecological processes
  • the Water Cycle – water supply, sewerage, drainage and flood management.

 The Institute’s Policy and Advocacy team is currently working with the Victorian Chapter’s Sustainable Architecture Forum (SAF) to prepare response questions to a series of survey questions which are being used to seek feedback about the Built Environment Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan 2022-2026.

VICTORIAN GAS SUBSTITUTION ROADMAP

The Victorian Government recently announced a consultation to seek feedback from industry, businesses and the community about ways to reduce our reliance on natural gas, including more sustainable options like renewable hydrogen, biogas and electrification. The purpose of the consultation is to develop a Gas Substitution Roadmap. The Roadmap to be released later in 2021 will:

  • outline the Government’s plan to decarbonise the gas sector while ensuring Victorians have access to an affordable, secure, reliable, and safe supply of energy.
  • identify policies and programs to reduce the use of natural gas, reduce fugitive emissions which result from leaks, venting and flaring of gas and help inform long-term planning and investment decisions for gas use in Victorian homes and businesses

 The Institute’s Policy and Advocacy team will work with the Victorian Chapter’s Sustainable Architecture Forum (SAF)  to prepare a brief submission support the roadmap and commending the proposal particularly to enhance the Victorian Energy Upgrades Scheme to promote greater electrification.

DECISION ON TRADITIONAL CUSTODIANS

The Victorian Chapter has recently received the following advice from Office of the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council  located in the Department of Premier and Cabinet:

The Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council is pleased to announce that the Melbourne CBD, along with Country and Waters to the east, west and south, will now be formally cared for and protected by its Traditional Owners.

 From 1 July 2021, the Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Council (BLCAC) and Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation (WWWCHAC) will be the registered Aboriginal parties (RAPs) for a combined 3,721km2 area, that lies between their existing registration boundaries.

 This area includes, in part, the local government areas of:

Baw Baw

Bayside

Boroondara

Brimbank

Cardinia

Casey

Frankston

Glen Eira

Greater Dandenong

Hume

Hobsons Bay

Kingston

Knox

Maribyrnong

Maroondah

Melbourne

Melton

Monash

Port Phillip

Stonnington

Whitehorse

Wyndham

Yarra

Yarra Ranges

Detailed mapping will be available as an ACHRIS layer here from 1 July 2021.

 Self-determination, the act of Aboriginal Peoples being able to make decisions about their governance, underpins the registration of Aboriginal parties. The RAP statutory functions that Aboriginal Corporations undertake, ensure that Traditional Owners are involved and, in time, will have control of all aspects and impacts of Cultural Heritage on Country.

 This will be of importance to members whose work with clients may require them to consult with or provide information about the Traditional Owners of a location where a project is being undertaken.