THE state government of Victoria, Australia has opened a public consultation for a scheme that will require the registration of professional engineers who provide engineering services in the state. IChemE is encouraging members to start considering Chartership in preparation for expected changes.
Next year, on 1 July 2021, Victoria’s Professional Engineers Registration Act 2019 will come into effect. The Act requires professional engineers to register if they provide civil, electrical, fire safety, mechanical, and structural services in the state, whether from within Victoria or from outside it. This will only apply to those working without direct supervision and who do not operate in accordance with a prescriptive standard.
The Act foreshadows that registration may be needed for other areas of engineering. It is expected that chemical engineering will be considered once the Act is fully implemented and as part of a review of the scheme set to take place in 2024–2025.
With the public consultation, the state is looking for guidance from professional engineers to support implementation and operation of the Professional Engineering Registration Act 2019.
According to the Victorian Government, despite the complexity and importance of the work engineers perform, and the pivotal role they have in ensuring public safety, most are not required to hold any formal government registration or licence.
The Government expects that the forthcoming registration scheme for engineers will ensure professional services are provided by engineers who have a minimum level of qualification, experience, and professional development, or are directly supervised by a professional registered engineer. It is also expected to help the community and government to purchase engineering services with greater confidence.
The registration scheme is expected to go live on 1 July 2021, and will be phased-in over a two-and-a-half-year period.
Once the Act comes into effect, approved bodies will be responsible for assessing individuals to ensure they are qualified for registration.
Peter Slane, Director of Regions for IChemE, said the organisation intends to apply to be an assessing entity for chemical engineers that seek to apply to the Professional Engineers Registration Scheme in Victoria. This will see the institution operating in a similar manner as it already does for the Board of Professional Engineers of Queensland, an independent body responsible for regulating the engineering profession across the state.
In assessing the qualifications of chemical engineers looking to register, IChemE intends to use Chartership as its assessment criteria for the scheme.
Slane encouraged members to start considering getting Chartered in the coming years to ensure they have the correct skills for engineering.
Ainslie Just, Chair of the Qualifications Committee and VP Qualifications for IChemE, said: “The creation of the Victorian register for professional engineers is aimed at ensuring public safety by regulating who can provide engineering services. Initially it will not apply to chemical engineers, but that is likely to change in time to come into line with the equivalent legislation in Queensland that has required chemical engineers to be registered since the 1950s.
“There is pushback in some quarters against this move to registration, which is also beginning in NSW. But without some form of regulation, there is no way to prevent unqualified and unskilled people passing themselves off as being able to provide engineering services safely.
“IChemE and other professional institutions maintain standards for academic learning and professional experience by which they qualify chartered engineers, but unless these standards are enforced in law, the public and users of engineering services remain potentially exposed.
“If, as expected, chemical engineering is added to the list of regulated areas of engineering in Victoria in a few years, then Chartered Membership of IChemE is likely to be accepted as evidence of fitness to practise, as it is in Queensland, and applications for chartered membership are likely to increase significantly.”
Just sits on IChemE’s Board of Trustees and is the Professional Formation Forum Chair on IChemE’s Australia Board.
Victoria is seeking feedback from professional engineers. To help with the consultation they have prepared several documents, developed in consultation with a range of engineers, peak professional engineering bodies, and Victorian Government agencies involved in the delivery of infrastructure and engineering services.
The documents include guidance material on key terms and provisions of the Act; the proposed registration regulations; a proposed code of conduct for professional engineers; and options for setting fees for the registration and endorsement of professional engineers. In addition, there will be two other sets of regulations on registration and endorsement fees and transitional arrangements.
The current consultation, which will end on 7 October, is the first of two. The second will be held in early 2021 and will inform the proposed registration and endorsement fees and supporting regulatory impact settlement.
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