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NSW opens talks on professional registration

Earlier this year, a bill passed in Victoria that should see professional registration of engineers become mandatory in that state. Queensland already has this requirement. Now it appears that New South Wales will go down the same path.

The NSW government has released a discussion paper that responds to recommendations of Shergold and Weir’s Building Confidence report. It asks for stakeholder input on different facets of the plan – including professional registration of building designers such as engineers.

Following the release of Building Confidence, the Building Ministers Forum prioritised the need for registration and training of practitioners. It also recognised the need for better regulation and oversight of the industry, as well as stricter controls on compliance.

NSW has already started efforts to improve compliance through what the government calls “the biggest compliance operation in the industry’s history”, with 25–30 per cent of the industry to be audited every year. It has also incorporated harsher penalties for non-compliant certifiers: a “zero tolerance” approach that imposes increased penalties for corruption and negligence, and a “name and shame” register of certifiers’ compliance history.

The new discussion paper, titled Building Stronger Foundations, takes the next steps by engaging with stakeholders to shape the direction of other major reforms. Chief among these are a new registration scheme for building designers. Another recommended step is making building designers formally declare that the plans, specifications and performance solutions they provide are compliant with the National Construction Code (NCC).

“Introducing a registration scheme is intended to enhance accountability by ensuring that practitioners have the relevant skills, hold appropriate insurance, and can be held accountable for their actions including being subject to appropriate disciplinary action,” the report reads.

“Feedback is requested on the establishment of the registration scheme and the appropriate level of regulation for registered practitioners.”

The paper asks for specific feedback on the following questions:

  • Which occupations or specific activities are involved in building design and should be in scope for the registration scheme?
  • What should be the minimum requirements for a registration scheme?
  • What skills should be mandatory for building designers?
  • Should specific qualification(s) be required?
  • Should there be other prerequisites for registration?

Interested organisations and individuals are invited to provide a submission on the issues raised in the discussion paper. You can provide a submission by email or by using the online form.

The closing date for submissions is close of business, July 24.

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