July 1, 2021, marks a major step in the national professional registration era, with the NSW and Victorian governments beginning to phase in registration schemes for engineers working in these states.
New South Wales has introduced the Design and Building Practitioners Regulation. Although this applies only to multi-storey (and mixed use) residential buildings initially, the government has indicated it will be extended to other building classes over time.
In Victoria, registration of professional engineers is being introduced under the Professional Engineers Registration Act 2019, and will be progressively introduced for each of the five areas of engineering until December 1, 2023.
Meanwhile, the Queensland Professional Engineers Act has been in operation since 2002.
“These schemes are a vital measure in restoring confidence in Australia’s building and construction industry,” says AIRAH CEO Tony Gleeson. “AIRAH fully supports these efforts and is engaging with government to assist with development of the reforms.”
Registration for engineers now applies in the three largest states for engineering work (Victoria, Queensland and NSW), representing about 75 per cent of the Australian economy.
To support these efforts, AIRAH has introduced the AIRAH Professional Engineer Register (APER) accreditation program for mechanical engineer – HVAC&R building services professionals. APER has been designed to meet the requirements of the various state‑based schemes as they are released.
In Australia, the registration of engineers is determined by the various states and territories.
Registration laws will initially apply to professional engineers in the five fields of civil, structural, electrical, mechanical and fire safety engineering. Additional areas of engineering can be added via regulation.
Although engineer regulation has been under discussion for some time, London’s Grenfell Tower fire and similar incidents in Australia spurred authorities into action.
In 2018, the Building Confidence report noted “significant and concerning” problems in Australia’s building industry that were “likely to undermine public trust in the health and safety of buildings if they are not addressed in a comprehensive manner”.
A plan was put in place, with the top priority stipulated that each jurisdiction set up a scheme for registering professionals involved in the design, construction and maintenance of buildings. This includes engineers.
For a summary of the situation in different jurisdictions around the country, click here.