Victoria passes new mandatory registration for engineers
New legislation passed by the Australian state parliament will mean that engineers working throughout Victoria will need to be registered in order to perform certain types of work. The Professional Engineers Registration Bill 2019 was passed in late August and will see those performing work in structural, civil, mechanical, electrical, and fire safety engineering all required to be registered.
Registration will be awarded by the Building Licensing Authority and will ensure that all Victorian engineers on the register meet the necessary minimum standards as set by the authority. While details of competency requirements will be subject to further consultation with industry experts, they are expected to include: an accredited four-year qualification; at least five years’ experience working as a professional engineer in a relevant field; and a requirement to undertake 150 hours of Continuing Professional Development over the course of three years.
Members who are on Engineers Australia’s voluntary National Engineering Register will be deemed to have already met the requirements of the new bill and will therefore not need to register. While the scheme currently only covers a selection of the engineering disciplines, there is scope to add other more in the future.
This new legislation comes at a time when public confidence in the industry has been shaken, due to revelations of construction defects in several high-rise residential buildings, namely the Opal Tower and Mascot Towers in Sydney and the Australia 108 residential building in Melbourne. The move has been strongly supported by industry bodies, including Engineering Australia, who have long suggested that specific types of engineering work should only be performed by those who demonstrate the experience and qualifications necessary to carry out the work in question.
The general public too has shown great interest in bringing in mandatory registration, with a national poll commissioned by Engineers Australia in July 2019 showing that almost 90 percent of people believe that engineers should be registered to practise in Australia. In Victoria, support for registration exceeded 85 percent of respondents and was consistently high across demographics.
Currently, Queensland is the only other state that requires mandatory registration for engineers. A BPEQ registration, known as an RPEQ (Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland), allows engineers to refer to themselves as a ‘professional engineer’ and requires that they have an academic standard that meets The Washington Accord (a worldwide standard of engineering education), as well as four to five years of mentored experience in the profession. Only once you have proved these qualifications and been assessed as competent is a person able to make an application to become a registered professional engineer.
Support for engineer registration in other states appears to be growing. For example, in March this year, a NSW government discussion paper, Building Stronger Foundations, called for submissions for proposed reforms to the building and construction sector.
There are hopes that Victoria’s new Professional Engineers Registration Bill will encourage better design and more innovative construction techniques that will ensure structural issues, fire dangers and other construction failures are significantly reduced.
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