The NSW Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 was enacted in June 2020, introducing statutory registration for professional engineers.
The Act provides for registration to apply to professional engineers working without supervision in any industry, but beginning with just five areas of practice: civil, structural, mechanical, electrical and fire safety engineering (more areas of practice can be added through regulation). The provisions of the Act will commence on 1 July 2021.
However, the NSW Government has advised that it will limit application of the Act to engineers working on Class 2 apartments only and to extend it to the whole building sector over time. It is understood that the Government does not intend to utilise the full scope of the Act to apply registration to engineers working in any other sector, including civil infrastructure, the power industry, manufacturing or any other industry.
“Engineers Australia is disappointed that the provisions for registration of engineers in the Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 (NSW) are not going to be applied in full”, says Engineers Australia CEO Dr Bronwyn Evans.
“The fundamental position of Engineers Australia has not changed; it is crucial to secure public confidence in the engineering profession by implementing a Government-run register of engineers that is modelled on what is in operation in Queensland and has recently been introduced for Victoria,” added Dr Evans.
“Registration should apply to anyone who provides professional engineering services (unless if working under the supervision of a registered engineer, or if only applying a prescriptive standard or instructions). However, it is imperative—whatever the scope of registration—that Engineers Australia continues to work with the Government to ensure that the NSW scheme is efficient and effective.”
The NSW Government expects to start public consultation on the draft Regulations in mid-November 2020. Engineers Australia will advise all members in the Sydney, Newcastle and Canberra Divisions to seek their views on the draft Regulations. Their feedback will inform the official Engineers Australia submission to Government.
We will also hold an online event to talk through the Government’s draft Regulations, answer questions and garner more feedback to inform the Engineers Australia submission.
Make sure you are on the mailing list to receive information on these events and updates.
Note that the draft Regulations cover more than just registration of engineers. A large part will be concerned with new rules about who can sign off on designs by a range of practitioners for buildings, requirements for lodgment of designs with the regulator and more.
What happens next?
The Government will finalise the Regulations in early 2021, ready to be implemented on 1 July 2021. Before then, it will need to consider submissions from all stakeholders.
Over the longer term, Engineers Australia will continue to advocate for comprehensive registration of engineers in consultation with our members, and in collaboration with other stakeholders and representative groups.