Engineers who work across major construction categories in Victoria will be required to be registered under a new scheme which will see the mandatory registration of professional engineers in respect of certain types of work.

Introduced into Parliament last month, the Professional Engineers Registration Bill 2019 will establish a mandatory system of registration for those who perform work across the five categories of civil engineering, structural engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and fire safety engineering.

Under the scheme, anybody who wishes to perform professional engineering services across any of the five aforementioned categories will be required by law to hold professional registration.

The law also makes it an offences for those who are not registered to represent that they can provide professional engineering services.

Exemptions will only apply for those who are either working under direct supervision or who are working to a prescriptive standard.

The scheme will be enforced via a co-regulation model involving input from both government and industry.

Under the scheme, the state will provide the legislative backing to enforce the scheme’s requirements and will administer the scheme as well as enforcing compliance.

This will involve action from the Business Licensing Authority, Consumer Affairs Victoria and the Victoria Building Authority.

Industry associations such as Engineers Australia, meanwhile, will be responsible for assessing individual practitioner qualifications, experience and professional development.

Around Australia, Queensland is the only state which currently has a comprehensive scheme for the mandatory registration of engineers.

Such schemes are also being considered in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia also considering mandatory registration.

In a paper explaining the scheme, the Victorian Government said the scheme was necessary to address an anomaly whereby lawyers, doctors, nurses, architects, teachers and many trades such as electricians and plumbers are required to be registered but registration was not required for engineers.

Given the impact of engineering work on critical infrastructure such as power and water systems, bridges, roads, dams and buildings as well as within other areas such as industrial product design, the Government says registration is necessary to ensure the quality and safety of design output.

This was especially important with the state expected to invest around $10.1 billion per year on infrastructure over the forward estimates period, it said.

Engineers Australia Victorian President Alesha Printz welcomed the introduction of the legislation.

“This Bill provides a legislative framework that will give the community, policymakers and industry confidence that engineers working in Victoria meet a strict set of professional standards and have the qualifications expected of being an engineer,” Printz said.

“Registration of engineers is vital to accountability and safety standards within the profession. It will help determine that engineers have the adequate skills and competency to undertake complex projects including around infrastructure and fire safety.”

“At the moment in Victoria, anybody can call themselves an engineer with little accountability.”

“Mandatory registration will put an end to this.”

The scheme is expected to commence from mid-2020 and be rolled under a staged process lasting three years.