The tragedy of London’s Grenfell Tower fire put a human face to the dangers of poor construction and lax regulation.
Here in Australia, high-profile cases Opal Tower and Mascot Towers saw the Australian dream turn into a nightmare for residents and owners. And in Sydney this past month, engineers were called in to investigate severe structural issues at a 10-storey apartment complex in Canterbury.
These heartbreaking images have shaken people’s confidence in the building sector. However, what many in the community may not know is the work being done behind the scenes to address these matters from an engineering perspective.
The engineering profession is owning its part in these serious issues that intersect all sectors and stakeholders in the industry. The way forward demands a cooperative solution.
That solution – driven by the New South Wales Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson – has seen industry and sector specialists, thought leaders, peak bodies (including the Owners Corporation Network, Insurance Council of Australia and Consult Australia) and membership organisations band together to deliver a reform agenda.
These reforms aim to ensure better compliance with the Building Code of Australia, underpinned by higher quality design and construction documentation. Engineers Australia commends the Minister for leading this important work and for engaging so constructively and professionally with the entire industry generally, and the engineering sector specifically.
Engineers Australia has been represented at all key decision points of this process. With the backing of the engineering profession, we have been working closely with the state government to support the reforms – leading a successful campaign in 2019 and 2020 for the compulsory registration of engineers in the New South Wales building sector.
As of July 2021, civil, geotechnical, structural, fire safety, electrical and mechanical engineers working on multi-storey residential buildings must apply for registration in order to do this work.
This registration aims to ensure that only those with suitable qualifications, enough relevant experience, and a proven commitment to ongoing training and professional development can provide engineering services.
As a voluntary membership organisation, Engineers Australia does not possess regulatory powers.
We do, however, take the responsibility of representing engineers, and the reputation of the profession, extremely seriously.
We are committed to strengthening engineering as a profession through our Professional Standards Framework. This includes a well-respected training and credential framework that is aligned with international benchmarks for standards of engineering competency and practice.
As engineers we use our knowledge and skills for the benefit of the community to create engineering solutions – at the heart of which sits the consumer. We will continue this important work to support all efforts to improve standards right across the building industry and renew community confidence in the system.