Architects Board of the ACT Annual Report 2014

Appointed members of the Architects Board of the ACT

Community interests representative

Joan Westaway

Appointment expired Jan 2013

Alex Sloan appointed Dec 2013

Legal representative

Greg Walker passed away Oct 2013

At 30 June 2014 a new legal representative had not been appointed

Academic architect representative

Nino Bellantonio

Appointment expired July 2012

Reappointed June 2013

Registered architect representative

Alan Morschel

Appointment expired March 2014

Reappointed with Ministerial intervention May 2014

Peak body representative

Catherine Townsend – Board Chair

Appointment expired March 2014

Reappointed with Ministerial intervention May 2014

Registrations

Registrations from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014
Type of registration No. of registrations

New architects

26

Re-application

56

New organisations

1

Renewed architects

341

New mutual recognition

11

Current registered architects

341

Architect Board meetings

The Board met on four occasions.
Date Board attendees

3 September 2013

Catherine Townsend, Alan Morschel, Nino Bellantonio and Greg Walker.

6 February 2014

Catherine Townsend, Alan Morschel, Nino Bellantonio and Alex Sloan.

20 May 2014

Catherine Townsend, Alan Morschel and Alex Sloan.

24 June 2014

Catherine Townsend, Alan Morschel, Nino Bellantonio and Alex Sloan.

Continuing function of the Architects Board of the ACT

The ACT Architects Board (the Board) was unable to function effectively for a good portion of this financial year due to a continuing administrative process which regularly results in Board members not being appointed by the Minister for months, and often up to a year. This financial year, the Board was regularly left with as few as two members, without a quorum, and eventually had to resort to Ministerial intervention in order to discharge its statutory obligations. This was particularly the case in relation to the accreditation process of University of Canberra Masters Degrees in Architecture. As of 30 June 2014, a new legal representative had still to be appointed after a process which has already been in train for eight months. The Board’s newly appointed Registrar has undertaken to address this and other administrative issues.

Board functions

The Board is part of a national network of boards which administer the state legislations pertaining to architectural education and the registration of architects. The eight state and territory Architect Registration Boards are Nominating Bodies of the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA). AACA was established by the boards to ensure national consistency in the pathways that lead to registration as an architect in Australia. The Architects Board of the ACT is represented by the Registrar and the Board Chair, as are the other state Architect Registration Boards.

The AACA is recognised as the national organisation responsible for advocating, coordinating and facilitating national standards for the registration of architects in Australia and for the recognition of Australian architects overseas by the relevant registration authorities. AACA also has the responsibility for assessment of overseas qualifications in architecture for the purposes of migration to Australia under the Australian Government’s Skilled Migration Program.

Registrar functions

The role of the Registrar under the Act is to manage the administration of the Board and to maintain the Register of Architects. It is noted that consistency and continuity in the role of the Registrar has been challenging over a number of years. A number of officers have acted in the position due to staff movements within the Directorate. On 5 April 2014 a new Registrar was appointed. Prior to his formal appointment the Registrar participated in the annual Architect Registrars Conference in February 2014. This conference was attended by the registrars from all other Australian jurisdictions except Northern Territory and Tasmania. The meeting provided an opportunity for registrars to share information about what was happening in each of the jurisdictions and to look at ways to work together in the progression of architecture across Australia.

The Registrar has noted the concerns of the Board in relation to continuity and information available. The Registrar has developed a series of new forms and fact sheets. A number of the forms have been approved by the Board and include new registration forms and a complaint form. The fact sheets will be considered by the Board in 2014–15. The Registrar also drafted a Code of Professional Conduct. The draft code is currently under consideration by the Board. In May 2014 the Registrar declared the qualifications required to meet the eligibility requirement to be registered as an Architect in the ACT. The declaration identified 15 educational institutions whose qualifications in architecture were deemed to be sufficient to meet the qualification requirements of an architect in the ACT.

National registration

Mutual recognition agreements are in place between Australian and New Zealand registration authorities for recognition of architecture qualifications and registration. Under Australian Commonwealth, state and territory legislation and New Zealand legislation, designed to facilitate free trade in services, people who are registered as an architect in any Australian jurisdiction, or in New Zealand, may apply for registration within Australia and New Zealand under these mutual recognition provisions. Over the year, a proposal to modify the existing mutual recognition process for registration of architects across states was developed by the registrars of the NSW and WA Architects Boards in consultation with the other state registrars.

This proposal has resulted in the establishment of the Architects in Australia portal
(http://australianarchitect.org.au) that provides a range of information relating to registration as an architect in the states and territories of Australia. It includes a list of individual architects practising in those jurisdictions. The portal is seen as a first step in a national registration process, which would consider architects registered in any one state or territory being automatically registered in all other jurisdictions.

Use and misuse of the title architect

In each state and territory of Australia it is a legal requirement that any person using the title ‘Architect’, or offering services to the public as an architect, must be registered with the Architect Registration Board in that jurisdiction. Architect legislation has been enacted to protect consumers and the public. Only people whose names appear on a state and territory Architect Registration Board register can use the title ‘Architect’ in that jurisdiction. Therefore, it is illegal for people to use the title ‘Architect’ or offer architectural services if they are not on a register of architects in the state or territory in which they are practising.

Numerous complaints are received by the Board each year regarding offences of this kind in the ACT. Non-compliance with this requirement in the legislation is seen by the Board as a serious matter, and acting against all reasonable efforts to protect consumers and the public by ensuring that individuals claiming to be architects have the qualifications and experience required by the legislation. Numerous Board attempts to address this problem have been unsuccessful largely due to reluctance within the Directorate to take action under the Architects Act 2004. Spot fines under Part 6 ‘Offences’ of the Act have been discussed in the past, and could be a simple way forward if implemented by the Directorate.

Similarly, disciplinary action against registered architects who have been the subject of complaints has been stalled by the absence of a Code of Professional Conduct, which the ACT Board has been trying to establish over a long period of time. Discussions with the newly appointed Registrar on these issues are proceeding.

The same can be said for the introduction of mandatory Professional Indemnity insurance, and Continuing Professional Development as additional requirements for registration in the ACT to ensure national consistency.

The Board strongly recommends timely action on all of the above issues.

Approval

The information in this report has been approved by Ms Catherine Townsend, Chair ACT Architects Board.

Further information may be obtained from:

Mr Ben Green
Registrar, ACT Architects Board
Phone: 6207 7387
Email: architectsboard@act.gov.au