The Victorian Building Authority will take control of building practitioner registration and discipline, whilst new processes for building practitioner discipline and a prohibition on builders appointing private surveyors will come into play under new changes which will impact building industry regulation practices in Victoria.
The new rules are the second tranche of two tranches of changes designed to improve regulation within the state, following earlier changes which came into effect on July 4. The earlier set of rules saw builders and architects specifically prohibited from performing building work without a permit, greater powers being given to the Victoria Building Authority to inspect documentation, and work being done by owner builders and building surveyors being specifically prohibited from acting in any positions in which they would have a conflict of interest.
Set to come into effect on September 1, the new changes will see the abolition of the Building Practitioners Board and responsibility of with regard to practitioner disciplinary proceedings transferred to the Victoria Building Authority.
With the new arrangements will come a new disciplinary process whereby the VBA will issue a ‘show cause’ notice where it believes grounds for disciplinary action exists and the onus will be on the practitioner to argue his or her case as to why the proposed action should not indeed be taken.
Any practitioners who have their registration suspended or cancelled, meanwhile, will have the option of seeking an internal review of that decision from a senior VBA officer before going to the Victorian Civil Appeals Tribunal – a move designed to give affected practitioners the opportunity to access fast and inexpensive means of review in light of the gravity of the impact of decisions of this nature from the practitioner’s viewpoint.
Other changes will see the move to a new five-year period for registration, the introduction of a new ‘fit and proper person test’ during the registration process, the ability of practitioners to surrender their registration upon leaving the industry (as opposed to having to have the registration cancelled or suspended) and the gradual introduction of a mandatory requirement for continuing professional development.
The new changes come amid considerable criticism with regard to the current system of building industry regulation in Victoria, which critics charge does not hold practitioners adequately accountable and fails to adequately protect consumers.
Various reports by the Victorian Auditor General’s Office and the Victorian Ombudsman have panned building practitioner registration as not being adequate to ensure that those who are registered are suitably qualified and competent in order to adequately discharge their responsibilities.