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2020-21 highlights

Registration

  • 315 new architect registrants with numbers decreased from the previous year, which is likely a flow on from the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) environment
  • 8,108 architects registered (practising and non-practising)
  • 193 requests from architects for change of class (practising and non- practising) has remained steady, which is attributed to correct classification messaging and coronavirus (COVID-19) impacts
  • 418 graduates registered for the Architectural Practice Examination
  • 403 registration related applications processed and completed
  • 88 new company registrations processed and completed
  • 14 Financial Hardship Applications seeking assistance through deferral on the payment of 2021-22 renewal fees received
  • 82% of architects’ 2020-21 renewal fees were paid by the 1 July 2021 due date

Compliance

  • 67 professional conduct investigations initiated comprising both reactive and proactive investigations
  • 2 professional conduct matters referred to the Architects Tribunal for inquiry
  • 1 inquiry completed by the Architects Tribunal resulting in adverse findings
  • 63 professional conduct investigations completed and not referred for inquiry
  • 14 professional conduct investigations completed and not referred for inquiry, but written advice provided
  • 64 prohibited conduct investigations initiated

2020-21 in Review

Q1

July

  • Legislative amendments to Architects Act 1991 (Vic) came into operation
  • 2020 ARBV Forward Plan endorsed by Board
  • Practice Examination (APE) Part 1 – Logbook and Statement of Practical Experience
  • National Registrars Forum meeting

August

  • APE Part 2 – National Examination Paper conducted remotely (included candidates for the postponed April NEP)

September

  • National Registrars Forum meeting

Q2

October

  • APE Part 3 – Examination conducted by remote interview
  • ARBV’s 2019-20 Annual Report reported to Parliament

November

  • Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA) Annual General Meeting
  • National meeting of architects registration boards
  • ARBV Registrar re-appointed as Chair of the National Architect Registration Boards Registrars’ Group
  • National Registrars Forum meeting
  • APE Part 3 interviews for session 1 and 2 held remotely

December

  • Board approved final 2 options for new leasehold

Q3

January

  • Recruitment for the CEO/ Registrar commenced
  • Provider engaged to deliver Customer Relationship Management system (CRM)

February

  • A plan for the revision of the Regulatory Strategy was agreed and the review commenced
  • APE Part 1 – Logbook and Statement of Practical Experience

March

  • Dr Glenice Fox appointed as CEO/Registrar
  • ARBV moved out of its premises at 372 Albert Street, East Melbourne
  • Election notice published in gazette for candidate nomination for Board election
  • ARBV provided a response to the AACA for the review of National Standard of Competency for Architects (NSCA)

Q4

April

  • National Registrars Forum meeting
  • Board approved updated Community and Engagement Strategy
  • Lease of new premises at Level 10, 533 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne commenced
  • Election process completed to nominate 2 architects for appointment by the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Minister as members of the Board
  • Board Strategy Day held and attended by Board members and Leadership team
  • APE Part 2 – National Examination Paper conducted remotely

May

  • New CRM and ARBV Portal launched
  • New website launched integrated with the CRM sharing the Victorian Government Single Digital Presence platform
  • 2 workshops about the Victorian Building System Review conducted by the Expert Panel
  • The ARBV’s response to the Framework for Reform of the Building System submitted

June

  • Full suite of Regulatory Strategy documents, including a Proactive Strategic Plan and Performance Monitoring Framework and adoption of risk profiling methodology approved
  • Realigned organisational structure approved by the Board for implementation in 2021-22
  • 2021-2022 Business Plan and Delivery Plan approved by the Board
  • Revised Board Induction Manual approved by the Board
  • APE Part 1 – Logbook and Statement of Practical Experience
  • APE Part 3 – Examination conducted by remote interview

In 2020-21, the ARBV continued to enhance the delivery of its core functions and implemented several initiatives to improve regulatory outcomes and deliver its purpose to protect the community interest and instil confidence in the regulation, integrity and delivery of architectural services in Victoria.

Despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions and working remotely, ARBV’s dedicated and capable team of staff worked with the Board on a very busy program of work focused on achieving best practice regulation, with several ongoing projects and key initiatives finalised or close to finalisation.

Priority areas focused on by ARBV in 2020-21 included:

  • revising the risk-based Regulatory Strategy and regulatory objectives underpinning the strategy and developing a proactive strategic plan, performance monitoring framework and risk profiling framework
  • embracing digital processes and improved data analytics by implementing a fit for purpose Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) operational for 2021-22 annual renewal of registration
  • launching a new more user-friendly website integrated with the CRM sharing the Victorian Government Single Digital Presence platform
  • developing guidance material for use by architects and consumers available on the website
  • providing leadership of the National Registrars Forum and co-operating with co-regulators to share information and insights
  • building on relationships with key stakeholders and Government
  • supporting Government improvement initiatives and participating in consultation processes exploring sectoral reforms
  • developing policies, processes and procedures to support delivery of core services
  • establishing a dedicated human resources function
  • workforce planning and assessing resources to ensure the organisational structure will enable ARBV to deliver its regulatory responsibilities and meet its obligations as a contemporary regulator
  • building improved and effective communications with consumers and architects
  • enhancing financial systems, processes and reporting and approach to risk management
  • improving Board systems and processes
  • working on relocating the office premises due to the redevelopment of the old site, ensuring appropriate facilities for staff and those attending for examinations, disciplinary hearings and other business.

The above focus by ARBV ensured that the expectations contained in the Ministerial Statement of Expectations for 2019-2021 relating to key governance and performance priorities were largely met, despite the challenges created by coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • The ARBV compliance function exercises the regulatory powers of the Architects Act 1991 (Vic) (the Act) to protect the public interest. The Act enables the ARBV to investigate matters on its own initiative or on the complaint of any person.

    The ARBV continues to increase its ability to generate and process information to develop actionable intelligence which informs its proactive activities to enable greater focus on higher risk matters and initiate early and timely regulatory responses. Sharing of information and insights with related co-regulatory bodies, in accordance with privacy principles and information sharing requirements, remains a key part of the regulatory strategy.

    Central to the ARBV’s data and intelligence capabilities is the newly introduced CRM that enables more enduring and accessible data and record management, as well as the ability to identify trends and emerging issues with significantly greater efficiency.

    Professional conduct of architects

    Architects must demonstrate conduct that is professional. This includes but is not limited to fulfilling the obligations detailed in the ‘Victorian Architects Code of Professional Conduct’ (contained within the Architects Regulations 2015).

    The Code sets out requirements architects must comply with relating to:

    • standards of conduct
    • skills and knowledge
    • approval of documents
    • contracts and agreements with clients
    • administering a building contract for a client
    • professional fees and costs
    • provision of information to clients
    • retaining documents and record keeping
    • maintaining confidentiality of client information
    • disclosing conflicts of interest, referrals, and endorsements
    • engendering confidence in and respect for the profession
    • maintaining standards and integrity of the profession.

    Following investigation, the ARBV may determine that an Architects Tribunal inquiry should be held into an architect’s professional conduct and/or fitness to practise. If the Tribunal finds allegations against an architect proven, it may make determinations against the architect that include cautions, reprimands, mandatory further education, registration conditions, and suspension or cancellation of registration. The ARBV is required to enforce any determinations made by the Tribunal.

    The Act provides that:

    • a person whose interests are affected by an ARBV determination not to refer an architect’s conduct or fitness to practise for inquiry may apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a review of that determination
    • an architect may apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a review of an Architects Tribunal determination concerning them.

    Prohibited conduct

    To be an architect, a person must be registered with the ARBV. The education and experience required for registration, coupled with the professional conduct obligations and the need to have compliant professional indemnity insurance cover, contribute towards the public being protected and being able to have confidence in the profession.

    If a person or body is not registered with the ARBV, they are not an architect in Victoria. If a person or body represents themselves or allows themselves to be represented as an architect, they are in breach of the Act’s prohibited conduct provisions.

    Breaches of the Act’s prohibited conduct provisions may be prosecuted in the Magistrates Court of Victoria by the ARBV.

    Compliance activity statistics

    Professional conduct of architects 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21
    Investigations initiated 14 10 30 77 67
    Reactive (complaints) 27 63 63
    Proactive (initiated by ARBV) 3 14 4(2)
    Investigations completed - not referred for inquiry 6 33 63
    Investigations completed - not referred for inquiry, but written advice 14

    Notes:

    1. Where no values are shown this indicates the category was not previously reported.
    2. Numbers of proactive (initiated by ARBV) professional conduct matters in 2020-21 were expected to be low as ARBV was still developing a proactive strategic plan that is consistent with the statutory framework
    Professional conduct of architects 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21
    Matters referred to Architects Tribunal 4 3 6 4 2

    Notes:

    1. For the 2016/17 to 2017/18 reporting periods, outcomes reported reflect only matters referred to the Tribunal in response to complaints (reactive).
    2. 2018-19 and 2019-20 reporting reflects matters referred to the Tribunal in response to complaints (reactive) and investigations of a reactive (complaints) and proactive nature (ARBV initiated).
    Professional conduct of architects 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21
    Architect Tribunal Inquiries completed 2 2 6 6 1

    Prohibited conduct

    The Act prohibits representations as an architect by people or bodies who are not architects and enables the ARBV to investigate potential offences and to initiate proceedings in the Magistrates Court of Victoria.

    As a consumer protection mechanism, the Act’s prohibited conduct provisions ensure the public can have confidence in an architect’s:

    • qualifications, skills, and experience
    • regulatory requirements
    • professional indemnity insurance cover.

    During the 2020-21 reporting period 64 potential breaches were investigated.

    Prohibited conduct 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21
    Investigations initiated 72 86 79 73 64 (3)
    Investigations in which prohibited conduct was not identified 29
    Investigations in which prohibited conduct was identified, compliance was able to be achieved 32
    Investigations referred for prosecution advice 12 8 4 4 0
    Prosecutions initiated 1 0 0
    Completed prosecutions 8 5 1 0 0

    Notes:

    1. Prosecutions initiated were first reported on in 2018-19.
    2. Where no values are shown this indicates the category was not previously reported.
    3. 61 investigations were completed, though some were initiated prior to 2020-21. Some cases initiated in 2020- 21 remained open at the end of 2020-21

    Tribunal

    Professional conduct and/or fitness to practise inquiries are conducted by the Architects Tribunal which is independent of the Board. A Tribunal is constituted as required, from a panel of suitably qualified people appointed by the Minister and approved by the Governor in Council.

    An Architects Tribunal is constituted as follows:

    • one panel member who is a practising architect
    • one panel member who is not an architect
    • one panel member who is a representative of consumer interests.

    At least one member of a Tribunal is to be a person with legal experience and knowledge.

    If the Architects Tribunal finds allegations against an architect proven, it makes determinations regarding penalty and costs.

    The ARBV is required to enforce the determinations made by the Tribunal.

    Number of new cases referred to the Tribunal for inquiry in 2020-21 – 2

    Number of inquiries finalised in 2020-21 – 1

    Compliance with professional indemnity insurance requirements

    Section 8B and 8C of the Act require practising architects to be covered by professional indemnity insurance that complies with requirements set out in the Architects Insurance Ministerial Order of February 2020. The Board audits compliance with this requirement and suspends the registration of architects who fail to comply. The newly introduced CRM will enable more efficient auditing of compliance with insurance obligations.

  • Registration is an important regulatory requirement that controls entry to the profession and provides assurance to consumers that architects possess a high standard of education and experience, adhere to prescribed standards of professional practice and hold professional indemnity insurance.

    Qualifications for registration

    The fit and proper person (FPP) requirements for registration (first introduced in July 2020) have been integrated into the registration process. Registrants are now required to answer questions related to their fitness to practice. ARBV has also introduced an enduring declaration at renewal for registrants to provide details of changes in their registration related to the FPP requirements contained in section 10A of the Architects Act 1991 (Vic) (the Act).

    FPP is determined during the granting of registration process and can help to provide initial insights into the risk profiling of a regulated entity. This initial understanding of risk profiles provides useful information to inform education and monitoring of newly regulated entities.

    To be eligible for registration as an architect, a person must have been engaged for not less than two years in practical architectural work and attained a standard of professional practice satisfactory to the ARBV. The legislation makes provision for the Architectural Practice Examination (APE) for this purpose, being the APE administered by the architect registration boards in collaboration with the AACA. The APE has been adopted by all Australian state and territory architect registration boards, providing for national consistency in pre-registration examination.

    The APE is the most common pathway to registration and is held twice in each calendar year. The other pathways to registration are administered by the AACA and include the Experienced Practitioner Assessment (EPA) – for both overseas experienced and locally experienced individuals and overseas mutual recognition (APEC and US architects).

    While continuing to deliver registration business as usual services as described above, the emphasis in 2020-21, consistent with the overall organisational strategy, has been to deliver enhancements to the registration function. This has included:

    • Assist in the implementation of a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) and a new website sharing the Victorian Government Single Digital Presence platform.
    • Reviewing and developing policies and procedures as part of the implementation of the regulatory strategy and to ensure they meet legislative requirements.
    • Collaborating with the AACA and other architect registration boards to implement improvements to relevant registration and examination procedures and processes.
    • Working to ensure that registration pathways remain nationally consistent.
    • Reviewing and improving record management for registrant records.
    • Managing the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) process, including the implementation of the mandatory CPD declaration.
    • Improving communications regarding the registration renewal process and the overall regulatory framework.
    • Contributing to content for the revised ARBV Update provided periodically through the year to registrants.
    • Assist with the accreditation processes administered by the AACA.

    APE held remotely

    Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) impacts, the ARBV worked to assist the AACA to move the APE examinations to online platforms. In October and November, the ARBV held over 300 Part 3 interviews online. This involved creating new procedures and processes for the interviews, and ensuring the interviews were conducted in a timely manner.

    APE Examiner Panel

    The recruitment process for the APE examiner panel, was finalised in mid-2020. The panel consists of 74 Architects with a range of experience. Training for the examiners took place in September 2020 remotely. Examiners were provided with information and guidance about conducting the examination, including how to conduct an examination in an online setting.

    ARBV Conferring Ceremony

    The ARBV Certificate Conferring Ceremony (CCC) is typically held as an annual event to acknowledge newly registered architects in Victoria. Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) the 2020 CCC was postponed and resumption of CCC’s remain uncertain in the current environment.

    Payment of annual fees

    The ARBV has continued to improve communications about the renewal process to promote compliance by registrants with the 1 July date for payment of prescribed annual fees. The introduction of the CRM and the timing of the release by Government of the increase in fee units for 2021 delayed the commencement of the registration renewal period. With a shorter renewal period and the ongoing impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19), ARBV observed an increase in non-payment of annual fees compared to 2019-20, with 266 registrants not having paid by the due date.

    Where the prescribed fee is not paid by the due date (which may be extended in agreed circumstances, e.g. through the Financial Hardship Policy) ARBV may initiate steps to suspend the registration of the regulated entity. If a regulated entity continues to fail to pay without a reasonable excuse, a recommendation may be made to the Board to suspend their registration.

    Numbers of suspensions since 2018-19 Number of suspensions % of total registrants
    Suspensions relating to non-payment of 2018-19 annual fees 332 6.3%
    Suspensions relating to non-payment of 2019-20 annual fees 78 1.4%
    Suspensions relating to non-payment of 2020-21 annual fees 45 0.93%

    Registration and Architectural Practice Examination Statistics

    New registrants 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21
    Architect registrations 304 322 403 347 315
    Company approvals 73 81 75 102 87
    Partnerships approvals 0 3 0
    Changing of registration class 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21
    Practising to non-practising 50 135 121
    Non-practising to practising 55 82 72

    Notes:

    1. Partnerships were previously combined with companies for reporting purposes.
    2. Changing of Registration Class was first reported on in 2018-19.
    Total architects on register at 30 June 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21
    Practising 4046 4380 4633 4822 5025
    Non-practising 1141 1214 1868 2005 3083
    Total 5187 5594 6501 6827 8108

    Notes:

    1. Increase in non-practising between 2017-18 and 2018-19 results from the inclusion of previously non-reported architects e.g. retired. The Act does not provide for resignation or removal from the register other than through suspension or cancellation.
    2. Total numbers do not include cancelled or suspended registrations at 30 June.
    3. The increase in non-practising registrations for 2020-21 is due to the implementation of the CRM data migration, as historically some registrants had been placed in an inactive status not the non-practising class.
    Total companies and partnerships on register at 30 June 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21
    Companies 1001 1046 1046 1112 1176
    Partnerships 26 27 27

    Notes:

    1. Partnerships were previously combined with companies for reporting purposes.
    Architectural Practice Examination 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21
    Number of candidates 248 361 351 430 418
    Successful candidates 224 318 222 183 373
    Unsuccessful candidates 24 43 129 24 45

    Notes:

    1. Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) only one APE session was completed in the financial year 2019-20 which has impacted outcomes.
    Suspension of registration/approvals at 30 June 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21
    Architects suspended 474 472 438
    Companies suspended 257 251 250
    Partnerships suspended 16 15 16

    Notes:

    1. Suspensions were not previously reported prior to 2018-19.
  • Finance and Corporate Services

    The ARBV launched its new website and implemented a new fit for purpose Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) which provides significant improvements in delivering the ARBV’s core regulatory functions, service delivery, data analysis and sovereignty of data held onshore. The managed information technology (IT) provider has delivered improved service, better value for money and provided employment for persons in Australia.

    In addition to the above initiatives, the Finance and Corporate Services function continued to provide service delivery for a range of internal and external stakeholders. In 2020-21, ARBV continued to improve core operational policies and procedures. It also worked to achieve financial procurement efficiencies as well as improving risk management and heightening risk awareness more broadly. Information security and document management have also been areas of focus.

    The ARBV continued to strengthen its governance and risk oversight by conducting an internal audit program to identify improvements and promote best practice.

    Further improvements are being delivered in the following areas:

    Customer Relationship Management system (CRM)

    The CRM system has been implemented and moved into a warranty period and business as usual phase after year end. The CRM provides considerable improvements in self-service, workflow management, reporting, auditability and data sovereignty.

    New website

    The ARBV launched a new more user-friendly website which is integrated with the new CRM. This simplifies navigating and using our services, makes it easier for regulated entities to complete transactions, and provides consumers and architects with guidance and educational materials that drive improved regulatory outcomes. The website shares the Victorian Government Single Digital Presence platform, increasing ARBV’s profile and visibility to consumers and architects as a statutory authority regulator.

    Human resources

    A new Australian owned and operated payroll and HR Management System, which provides significantly improved functionality has been purchased and implemented. In addition to a payroll function, the new system includes modules for management of learning and development, annual performance planning and review and the capacity to capture other core human resources processes on a single system.

    In April 2021, a Human Resources professional was engaged on a part-time basis by the ARBV, and Human Resources became a discrete function separate from Finance and Corporate Services.

    The ARBV concluded a new Enterprise Agreement which aligns to the Victorian Public Service Agreement’s terms and conditions. This agreement was approved by the Fair Work Commission in May 2021 and will be in place for three years.

    Finance system

    More thorough and timely reconciliations and reviews have been a focus in 2020-21. This included enhanced vendor master file security reviews as well as integration of customer integration between the new CRM and the finance system.

    Risk

    Further improvements to risk management based on the Board approved revised Risk Management Policy and Framework, included updating risk registers, controls and treatments. The ARBV developed a Protective Data Security Plan aligned to the Victorian Protective Data Security Framework.

    Governance

    Improving Board systems and processes were a focus in 2020-21 as well as continued enhancement of ARBV’s governance frameworks to better meet whole of government accountabilities including compliance and reporting obligations.

    The Board election pursuant to section 47(2)(c) of the Architects Act 1991 (Vic) for architect nominated candidates was concluded in April 2021. The results of the election for the nominated architects were published in the Victorian Government Gazette (G18 6 May 2021) and provided to the Minister for Planning and the Minister’s portfolio agency DELWP. The process for appointment of Board members, including architects nominated for appointment by election, is managed by DELWP which is responsible for undertaking requisite probity and suitability checks and making a recommendation to the Minister.

    The appointment of Board members had not been finalised at the end of the reporting period.

    The focus for legal services in 2020-21 included:

    • development and implementation of significant legislative and regulatory changes
    • revisions to the Professional Indemnity Insurance framework applied to the architectural profession in response to the cladding issues and the insurance markets response
    • introduction of new guidance material for panel members of the Architects Tribunal, providing them with information on the administrative framework and operation of the Tribunal
    • revision of the Regulatory Strategy including the reformulation of the regulatory objectives underpinning the strategy and the development of the proactive strategic plan and performance monitoring framework
    • assistance to Architects Tribunal on inquiries and oversight of prosecutions
    • oversight of application for review in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal
    • review of processes in place between ARBV and the Architects Tribunal
    • development of a revised privacy policy and collection statement.
  • Corporate Plan

    The ARBV’s 3-year Corporate Plan 2019–22 endorsed by the Board in May 2019, provided the guidance for the resulting Business Plan for 2019-20 approved by the Board in June 2019. The ARBV continued working in 2020-21 to achieve the key initiatives and projects identified in the Business Plan for 2019-20.

    The Corporate Plan established a roadmap for the future in providing a clear guide for its activities and continually building on its work during the duration of the Plan.

    The Plan is built on the ARBV’s:

    Long term outcomes

    • A capable, compliant and informed profession.
    • A community that understands the role of architects and the ARBV.
    • A modern, trusted and connected regulator.
    • A regulatory framework that drives strong outcomes.

    Key strategies

    • Build a high performing, focused and sustainable organisation.
    • Implement effective systems and processes.
    • Undertake effective communications and stakeholder engagement.
    • Deliver and implement an effective regulatory strategy.
    • Drive improvements to the regulatory framework while optimising use of the existing framework.

    As part of the Corporate Planning process, indicators of success to achieving the long-term outcomes have been developed and incorporated in the published plan. Those outcomes will be delivered and measured through the identified strategies and actions over the 3-year life of the Plan.

    Statement of Expectations

    The revised Statement of Expectations (SOE) framework, issued by the Minister for Planning in August 2019 for the period to June 2021, included the following performance improvements and targeted outcomes.

    SOE framework

    SOE performance improvements and targeted outcomes

    SOE target

    ARBV progress

    Improved timeliness

    Simplifying and improving timeliness of services by providing a client focused digitally enabled system to replace paper-based lodgements and interactions with the ARBV staff.

    By 30 June 2021

    (a) a client focussed digitally enabled systems is successfully implemented and is operating effectively.

    (b) reporting on timeliness of service is published in ARBV annual report and website.

    Completed

    A fit for purpose Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) has been implemented and was operating effectively for renewals of registration for 2021-22.

    Reporting on timeliness of service to commence in 2021-22 following implementation of CRM and launch of ARBV’s new website in May 2021.

    Risk-based strategies
    • Development of a public-facing risk-based and evidence-led regulatory strategy
    • Key regulatory outcomes are published in the ARBV annual report.

    By 31 July 2019 the risk based regulatory strategy is published on the ARBV website.

    By 30 June 2021 the risk based regulatory strategy is being applied to improve compliance through:

    (a) development of risk profiles as predictors for likelihood of non-compliance

    (b) focused strategies addressing the current major and emerging key compliance issues

    (c) development of improved data analytics in:

    • identifying emerging trends and tailoring of services;
    • better targeting of areas of non-compliance of most need and effect.

    Completed

    Projects completed in 2020-21 include:

    • Revision of the Regulatory Strategy
    • Statement of Regulatory Approach updated in line with the revised strategy and published on the ARBV website
    • Proactive Strategic Plan developed for implementation in 2021-22
    • Performance Monitoring Framework developed for implementation in 2021-22
    • Operations Manual updated to support revised regulatory strategy.
    • Risk Profiling Framework developed for implementation in 2020-21
    The above focused strategies, together with improved data analytics and the CRM, will enable the ARBV to address emerging compliance issues and tailor services to better target higher risk areas of non-compliance.
    Compliance-related assistance and advice
    Activities to support regulated entities’ compliance, including the development of guidance, education and support. By 31 December 2020 guidance material to support regulated entities with their compliance obligations has been reviewed, updated and made available on ARBV’s website.

    Completed

    Guidelines are available on ARBV’s website and communicated to registrants.

    Guidance material, education and support will continue to be developed as part of the Proactive Strategic Plan.

    Cooperation among regulators
    Establishment of information sharing agreements with key co-regulatory bodies.

    By 30 June 2021 information sharing agreements with key co-regulatory bodies to be established.

    Information sharing agreement is in place with VBA.

    The ARBV notes that work is planned by DELWP in relation to information sharing between building system entities and the department. That work is expected to assist ARBV in progressing information sharing agreements underway with other regulatory agencies.

    Stakeholder consultation and engagement

    Development and implementation of a communications and stakeholder engagement strategy

    By 31 December 2019 implementation of a communications and stakeholder engagement strategy has commenced with a view to full implementation by 31 December 2020.

    Completed

    ARBV revised its 2019 communication and stakeholder engagement strategy in 2020-21 and the updated strategy was approved by the Board in April 2021.

    Establishment of a regulatory forum for regulators of Australian architects in other jurisdictions By 30 June 2021 the jurisdictional regulatory forum will be operating with a view to sharing information and learning to improve consistency in regulatory activities nationally and within jurisdictions.

    Completed

    Forum meets on a quarterly basis.
    Accountability and transparency
    Establishment of an industry and consumer forum to provide feedback and guidance on the delivery of the regulatory strategy.

    By 30 June 2021 the industry and consumer forum will be in operation effectively and its findings used to inform the ARBV’s regulatory activities and a review of the effectiveness of the ARBV’s regulatory strategy.

    While considerable work was undertaken to establish Terms of Reference for the forum, the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic led the ARBV to revise the format of the forum in early 2021. The forum has been revised to incorporate a wider range of strategies to obtain feedback from a broad cross-section of stakeholders. This includes surveys and other targeted communications the ARBV has been working on.

  • Victorian building system review

    Following work undertaken by the Victorian Cladding Taskforce highlighting a need for reforms in the building sector, the Victorian Government announced in December 2019 the establishment of an independent expert panel to conduct a comprehensive review of Victoria’s building regulatory system. The expert panel’s work has been conducted in parallel with work being undertaken by the Australian Building Codes Board to develop a framework for implementation of the findings of the Building Confidence Report (2018).

    On 7 April 2021, the expert panel released for consultation its discussion paper containing a Framework for Reform for modernising Victoria’s building system. As the expert panel proposed several significant reforms, including changes to the regulatory regime that governs architects, the ARBV thoroughly considered the panel’s proposals and provided a written submission in response. At the same time ARBV communicated its interest in participating in the reform process as it evolves. The written response was supplemented by ARBV’s responses to relevant questions posed by the expert panel. The ARBV also participated in 2 workshops with building sector regulators and the expert panel in May 2021.

    Automatic Mutual Recognition

    In August 2020, the Australian Government announced that the commonwealth, and state and territory governments had agreed to introduce a uniform scheme for the Automatic Mutual Recognition (AMR) of occupational registrations. On July 2021, commonwealth, state and territory governments introduced AMR to streamline long-standing mutual recognition arrangements and improve occupational mobility by removing additional fees and paperwork and making it easier and less expensive for registered professionals to operate in multiple jurisdictions. While AMR commenced in Victoria on 1 July 2021, the Victorian Government decided to delay several occupations from the start of AMR, including architects.

    The ARBV has worked with DELWP in relation to legislative amendments to the Architects Act 1991 (Vic) to facilitate AMR and ensure intended safeguards operate. The ARBV has also met regularly with the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA) and interstate architect registration boards to discuss the introduction of AMR and how information can best be shared in a timely manner between jurisdictions.

    To promote its readiness for AMR for architects and mitigate against risks, the ARBV has sought to engage with other regulators to share insights and resources.

    Amendments to the Architects Act 1991

    Proclamation of the Building and Environment Protection Legislation Amendment Act 2020 (Vic) took effect on 28 July 2020, bringing into operation changes to the Architects Act 1991 (Vic) designed to improve the regulatory regime in the building and construction sector and modernise and strengthen the Architects Registration Board of Victoria.

    These changes were implemented to ensure the ARBV could effectively carry out its regulatory strategy, build a stronger profession and meet community expectations.

    Key amendments to the Act included:

    • substituting a ‘fit and proper person’ (FPP) test for the ‘good character’ test
    • introducing a power to require the production of information or documents
    • introducing a power of immediate suspension of registration
    • introducing a head of power to mandate continuing professional development (CPD) for architects.

    The Act also incorporated a number of other amendments including extending the term of Board members appointment from 2, to up to 3 years, repealing the provision that restricts replacement ARBV Board members from holding office only for the rest of the term of appointment of the member whose place he or she fills and changing suspensions of registration relating to Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) by including PII grounds as a basis for immediate suspension, pending inquiry.

    In 2020-21 the ARBV updated processes, procedures and forms to incorporate new requirements (e.g. FPP test and CPD) and monitor compliance, this encompassed incorporating those requirements in the CRM and on the new website. Embedding and monitoring such requirements builds a stronger profession, enhancing community confidence. The ARBV has also worked on gaining a clear understanding of the extent of its power to require production of information or documents to ensure the exercise of the power is consistent with the statutory framework. Consistent with the amendments, appointments to the ARBV Board will be made for 3 years increasing continuity and the capacity of Board members to make an effective contribution during their term of office.

  • In addition to sector and legislative reforms, ARBV has been involved in progressing several key regulatory and operational activities in 2020-21 as already referred to in this report. Key activities have included:

    CRM and website

    The ARBV embraced digital processes and improved data analytics by implementing a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) that was operational for 2021-22 annual renewal of registration. Central to the ARBV’s data and intelligence capabilities the CRM enables more enduring and accessible data and record management, as well as the ability to identify trends and emerging issues with significantly greater efficiency. The CRM also provides considerable improvements in terms of user self-service, workflow management, reporting, auditability and data sovereignty.

    ARBV also launched a new more user-friendly website integrated with the CRM. This new website simplifies navigating and using our services, makes it easier for regulated entities to complete transactions, and provides consumers and architects with guidance and educational materials which drives improved regulatory outcomes. The website shares the Victorian Government Single Digital Presence platform, increasing ARBV’s profile and visibility to consumers and architects as a statutory authority regulator.

    Regulatory Strategy and development of proactive strategic plan, performance monitoring framework and risk profiling

    Over recent years the ARBV has made significant changes to its regulatory strategy, policies and procedures to ensure it meets its obligations as a contemporary regulator. The Regulatory Strategy embeds a risk-based approach to regulation and enables the ARBV to target its resources at the compliance areas and issues that pose the greatest risk to the public, while minimising undue regulatory intrusion and burden. In 2020-21, the ARBV continued to build on and enhance its regulatory approach to keep pace with sectoral changes, including the emergence of systemic risks. Central to this development was the revision and refinement of the Regulatory Strategy, including the establishment of a proactive strategic plan, a performance monitoring framework and risk profiling criteria for regulated entities.

    Guidelines for architects

    In 2020-21, the ARBV continued to develop guidance material for use by architects which can also assist consumers. These Architect Guidelines are made available on the ARBV website. Guidance material has been developed in relation to the following:

    • Classes of registration
    • Client-architect agreements
    • Conflicts of interest
    • Informing and agreeing on client access to project material
    • Obligations to inform client
    • Professional fees and costs

    National Registrars Forum

    The National Registrars Forum was initiated in April 2019 and brought together cross-jurisdictional regulators to share best practice, better understand risk and to work towards a nationally consistent approach to the regulation and oversight of the architectural profession.

    At meetings of the National Registrars Forum in 2020-21 matters discussed included:

    • information sharing arrangements between architect registration boards
    • APE review, including revising the pathways to registration
    • the revision of the National Standard of Competency (NSCA)
    • the continued transition for the APE to online platforms for the delivery of the program
    • the automatic mutual recognition scheme.

    Review of organisational structure

    A dedicated human resources function was established by ARBV in 2020-21. An important task of the function was to assess staffing resources and undertake workforce planning to ensure the ARBV is effectively structured in 2021-22 to deliver its regulatory responsibilities and meets its obligations as a contemporary regulator. A realigned organisation structure was approved by the ARBV Board at its June 2021 meeting and will come into operation in 2021-2022.

    Office relocation

    Due to the redevelopment of the site where its previous office was located, ARBV had to search for and secure new premises in 2020-21, to ensure appropriate facilities for staff and for those attending for examinations, disciplinary hearings and other business. A lease commenced in April 2021 for new premises at Level 10, 533 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne and arrangements for fit out works to be completed were in progress at the end of the reporting period.

    The ARBV anticipates that staff will be able to move in and commence working from the new premises in late 2021, but this will depend on the status of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions at that time.

Reviewed 01 February 2022

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