Performance report (non-financial) 2022-23

ARBVs Performance report (non-financial) 2022-23.

Registration

Registration is an important regulatory function that controls entry to the profession and provides assurance to consumers that architects possess ahigh standard of education and experience, adhere to prescribed standards of professional practice and hold Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII).

Qualifications for registration

Persons seeking registration as an architect in Victoria 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 Architects Act 1991 (the Act) makes provision for the main pre-registration pathway being the Architectural Practice Examination (APE) for this purpose, as it allows candidates to be tested on their practical knowledge. The APE has been adopted by all Australian state and territory architect registration boards, providing national consistency in pre-registration examinations.

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 (Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation and US architects). During the reporting period the UK mutual recognition pathway was introduced.

The fit and proper person (FPP) requirements for registration requires registrants to answer questions related to their fitness to practise. FPP is determined during the registration assessment 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.

ARBV also administers 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 Act.

Enhancements to the registration function continue to be delivered, including:

  • Working to increase registrations, particularly among persons who meet registration requirements but are not registered as architects
  • Embed the National Standard of Competency for Architects into pre-registration programs
  • Communicate the importance of fulfilling Continuing Professional Development obligations
  • Continue to deliver proactive activities in registration to encourage voluntary compliance e.g., monitoring of compliance with CPD requirements
  • Deliver training to ARBV’s refreshed Panel of APE Examiners
  • Collaborate with the AACA and other architect registration boards to implement improvements to relevant registration and examination procedures and processes
  • Overseeing the accreditation processes administered by the AACA
  • Implement an audit process for companies and partnerships to ensure compliance with the Act
  • Improve communications regarding the registration processes and ensuring that all relevant details are available on the website
  • Contribute content for the ARBV Update provided quarterly to registrants.

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 CRM now enables more efficient auditing of compliance with insurance obligations.

The Registration team conduct routine audits to ensure compliance with professional indemnity insurance requirements and to ensure that architects meet statutory requirements. Most incidences of non-compliance detected in 2022-23 related to a failure by the registrant to provide a copy of their up-to-date PII certificate of currency to the ARBV.

Registration renewal

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 system has improved the overall renewal process and allowed registrants to be more actively engaged with their compliance obligations for renewal and more widely their registration obligations for professional indemnity insurance.

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) the ARBV may initiate steps to suspend the registration of the regulated entity. If a regulated entity fails to pay their registration renewal, the ARBV may suspend their registration.

Numbers of suspensions relating to non-payment of annual fees since 2018-19 are as follows:

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%
Suspensions relating to non-payment of 2021-22 annual fees

37

0.58%
Suspensions relating to non-payment of 2022-23 annual fees

37

0.54%

Notes:

1. Registrants required to pay annual fees: architects (practising), approved companies and approved partnerships.

Registration and architectural practice examination statistics

New registrants

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

2021-22

2022-23

Architect registrations

403

347

315

336

338

Company approvals

75

102

87

119

120

Partnership approvals

0

3

0

1

3

Changing of registration class

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

2021-22

2022-23

Practising to non-practising

50

135

121

226

237

Non-practising to practising

55

82

72

105

76

Total architects on Register at 30 June

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

2021-22

2022-23

Practising

4633

4822

5025

5276

5423

Non-practising

1868

2005

3083

1779

1975

Total

6501

6827

8108

7055

7398

Notes:

1. Due to changes in recent years in how we record Non-Practising registrants on the Register of Architects, the total in 2020-21 appears greater. This primarily relates to the treatment of Non-Practising registrants holding inactive status.

Total companies and partnerships on register

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

2021-22

As of 30 June 2023

Companies

1046

1112

1176

1274

1362

Partnerships

26

27

27

28

28

Architectural practice examination

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

2021-22

2022-23

Number of candidates

351

430

418

348

329

Successful candidates

222

183

373

310

280

Unsuccessful candidates

129

24

45

38

49

Notes:

1. Due to coronavirus (COVID-19), only one APE session was completed in the financial year 2019-20 leading to the postponement of 223 candidate examinations.

Complaints and investigation

The ARBV Complaints and Investigation function exercises the regulatory powers of the Architects Act 1991 (the Act) to maintain the standards and integrity of the profession of architecture, to protect consumer interests and to underline the importance of registration. The Act enables the ARBV to investigate matters on its own initiative or on the complaint of any person.

In line with the Regulatory Strategy, the ARBV continues to strengthen its focus on the delivery of proactive regulatory activities and increasing awareness and understanding of compliance obligations by architects through education and assistance.

Voluntary compliance by architects supports high standards of professional conduct and practice being maintained and helps to instil confidence in the profession among relevant stakeholders, including the public.

Consumers are able to engage architects with the knowledge that registration requires them to be covered by Professional Indemnity Insurance. Restricting who can represent themselves to be an architect also protects consumers by allowing them to source competent and qualified architects over unregistered persons, who may lack the qualifications or competencies to deliver safe and compliant building work.

The ARBV increased its proactive regulatory activities in 2022-23 particularly in the areas of research and education and engagement and plans to further upscale the delivery of proactive activities in the coming year with additional revenue and resourcing available through the increase in 2023-24 registration fees.

The ARBV’s reactive regulatory activities ensure that architects are being held accountable for their professional conduct and practice thereby protecting consumers and upholding the high standards of integrity in the professional practice of architecture. The ARBV undertook important reactive regulatory activities in 2022-23 including a number of complex investigations.

During 2022-23the ARBV commissioned a review to assess the manner in which complaints and investigations are managed. The review involves an assessment of the extent to which ARBV’s reactive regulatory activities are aligned with the Regulatory Strategy. The review will support the enhancement of regulatory documents, tools and guidance materials and help to ensure that good regulatory practice is maintained.

Professional conduct of architects

Architects must demonstrate professional standards and conduct that are competent and professional. This includes but is not limited to fulfilling the obligations detailed in the ‘Victorian Architects Code of Professional Conduct’ (the Code) 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 an investigation, the ARBV may determine that an Architects Tribunal inquiry should or should not be held into an architect’s professional conduct and/or fitness to practise.

A person whose interests are affected by an ARBV determination not to refer an architect’s conductor fitness to practise for inquiry may apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for a review of that determination. In the reporting period the ARBV responded to one application for review that was made to VCAT.

In 2022-23, the ARBV’s complaint data indicates that the highest incidence of complaints about professional conduct related to the following complaint issues:

  • inappropriate billing practice
  • unreasonable delays in the provision of architectural services
  • incompetent design or specifications
  • failure to provide services with due skill, care and diligence.

The complaints data from 2022-23 helped to inform the research project undertaken jointly with the NSW ARB on systemic risks in the architecture sector. The data was also used to inform ARBV’s proactive regulatory activities including the delivery of the ARBV’s webinar program and will inform the development of the next Proactive Strategic Plan and delivery of proactive regulatory activities in the coming year.

Prohibited conduct

To represent themselves as an architect in Victoria, a person must be registered with the ARBV. The education and experience required for registration, coupled with the professional conduct obligations and continuing professional development and Professional Indemnity Insurance requirements, contribute towards maintaining the integrity of the profession and providing consumer protection.

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.

Complex investigations 2022-23

Over the past year, ARBV has been carrying out a number of complex investigations as part of its reactive enforcement regime. Those investigations have taken significant time, due to the number of issues raised, the complexity of the issues under consideration and the need to ensure that the persons involved are given appropriate time to provide documents and information in relation to the issues raised regarding their conduct.

Some examples of the complex investigative work undertaken by ARBV over the past year include:

  • Investigation of multiple complaints regarding a former architect who is no longer registered under the Architects Act but who was continuing to hold himself out to consumers as a registered architect. The investigation by ARBV required detailed review of significant amounts of evidence, given the numerous occasions on which the architect had misrepresented himself. The investigation led to a successful prosecution of the former architect and the company through which the former architect carried on his business for numerous offences against the Act. The former architect and the company pleaded guilty to the charges and was ordered to pay a fine and costs.
  • Investigation of a person who allowed himself to be represented to be a registered architect on multiple occasions in published articles and interviews, in circumstances where he had never been registered. That investigation concluded that this conduct had occurred more than 14 times. The person involved took steps to ensure that the offending representations were removed from publicly available records and to avoid any future representations of that type.
  • Investigations regarding a building that was designed with external aluminium cladding, which did not comply with the requirements of the National Construction Code and at which a fire subsequently occurred, causing significant damage to the building. Given the complex factual matrix and the involvement of numerous regulators, including Fire Rescue Victoria and the Victorian Building Authority, ARBV has been liaising with those regulators to understand the circumstances leading to the approval of the non-compliant building design and the conduct of the architects involved.
  • ARBV closely monitored an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) into the conduct of a Melbourne architectural company and a registered director of that company in relation to a tender for a development that was federally funded. The ACCC concluded that the architectural company and director in question had engaged in cartel conduct, by seeking to prevent other architectural firms from submitting a tender for that work. The ACCC brought civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia, as a result of which the Court imposed significant fines. Now that the court proceedings are concluded, ARBV is conducting its own investigation, focusing on whether any professional conduct obligations set out in the Architects Act or the Regulations have been contravened by any of the parties involved.

Complaints and investigation statistics

Professional conduct of architects

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

2021-22

2022-23

Assessments and investigations initiated

30

77

67

33

26

Reactive (complaints)

27

63

63

33

24

Proactive (initiated by ARBV)

3

14

4

0

2

Investigations completed – not referred for inquiry

6

33

63

20

16

Investigations completed – not referred for inquiry, but written advice provided to architect (per Regulation 8)

14

2

5

Notes:

1. Where no values are shown this indicates the category was not previously reported.

Professional conduct of architects

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

2021-22

2022-23

Matters referred to Architects Tribunal

6

4

2

1

8

Architects Tribunal Inquiries Completed

6

6

1

5

0

Prohibited conduct

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

2021-22

2022-23

Assessments and investigations initiated

79

73

64

44

32

Investigations in which prohibited conduct was not identified

29

7

20

Investigations in which prohibited conduct was identified, compliance achieved without escalation

32

15

19

Investigations referred for prosecution advice

4

4

0

8

Prosecutions initiated

1

0

0

0

1

Completed prosecutions

1

0

0

2

1

Notes:

1. Where no values are shown this indicates the category was not previously reported.

Architects 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.

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.

Conduct considered by the Tribunal in 2022-2023 includes:

  • Entering into a client architect agreement that did not comply with the requirements in the Code of Conduct for architects
  • Careless or incompetent conduct by providing estimates for build cost that were significantly inaccurate
  • Failing to take reasonable steps to ensure information provided to a client was accurate and unambiguous
  • Failing to engender confidence in and respect for the profession of architecture with respect to communications with the client
  • Failing to disclose a conflict of interest
  • Careless or incompetent conduct by providing drawings for which a building permit could not be issued
  • Failing to act honestly and with reasonable care in the provision of services, by failing to comply with a planning permit.

If the Tribunal finds allegations against an architect proven, it makes determinations regarding penalties and costs. The Tribunal 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 the determinations made by the Tribunal.

An architect may apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a review of an Architects Tribunal determination concerning them.

ARBV Service Charter

The ARBV Service Charter was first published in July 2022. The charter sets out the standard of service people can expect to receive from the ARBV, including:

  • how to contact us
  • what you should do if you wish to make a complaint or provide feedback about your dealings with us
  • how you can help us to help you
  • our expected time frames for services provided.

Our service commitments

Responsiveness

  • We will respond promptly to your enquiries through our phone and email service.
  • We aim to respond to phone enquiries and emails within 3 business days and written correspondence within 10 working days.
  • We will provide accurate and up to date information in response to enquiries.
  • We will manage all registration applications efficiently and finalise complete and routine applications for registration within 6 weeks.
  • We will keep complainants informed about the progress of their complaint and the expected timeframe for finalisation. We will acknowledge complaints about the ARBV within 3 days and respond to those complaints within 4 weeks.

Transparency

  • We will be open and transparent about our processes.
  • We will provide consistent and clear information across our communication channels.
  • Our staff and Board will disclose conflicts of interest, and comply with the VPS code of conduct.
  • We will give you access to your personal information if you request it.
  • We will publish clear and current information on our website.

Quality service

  • We will give you clear and straightforward information about the ARBV, including information on how to register as an architect in Victoria, make an enquiry or complaint, or respond to a complaint.
  • We will keep an up-to-date Register of Architects in Victoria.
  • We will handle all complaints about the conduct of architects fairly and efficiently. We will keep you informed about the progress of your enquiry, application, or complaint.
  • We will tailor our response to your accessibility needs where possible.
  • We will provide linkages and referral to other government information relevant to your needs where reasonably practicable.

Confidentiality

  • We will have systems in place to protect your confidential information.
  • We will treat all information received in accordance with the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014.

Professionalism and respect

  • Our dealings with you will be conducted with integrity, honesty and respect.
  • Our staff will be informative and helpful and responsive to feedback you may wish to provide.
  • When you contact us, the person who responds to your enquiry will give you their name.
  • We will be inclusive and treat every member of the public equally.
  • We will endeavour to ensure we are accessible for those with disabilities and culturally diverse backgrounds.

ARBV feedback and enquiries

At the ARBV we collect a range of information and feedback from architects and consumers of architectural services throughout the year. Each email, portal enquiry or phone call is categorised, and surveys are conducted.

Data gathered provides valuable insights, and helps us to identify key trends and issues. This data is used to inform and guide the delivery of the ARBV's regulatory strategy.

Approximately 8000 enquires were received and responded to in the 2022-23 financial year. Most enquiries were responded to in accordance with the timelines set out in the ARBV Service Charter.

EmailsPortal enquiriesCalls
Registration1813332533
Continuing Professional Development851625
Architectural Practice Examination1212133276
Professional Indemnity Insurance34339101
Portal help233NA204
General advice 42NA24
Renewal 291NA262
Other1046197242
Complaints and Investigation321NA230
Total53867171897

Sponsorships, grants and awards

In 2022-23, the ARBV entered into a sponsorship partnership program with Open House Melbourne (OHM). The partnership program will deliver a number of events in 2023-24 to celebrate ARBV’s centenary and recognise and promote the contribution the ARBV makes to Victoria's well- designed, liveable and safe built environment in its role as a regulator of the architectural profession.

The ARBV is delighted to be working with OHM on a range of partnership activities, including hosting a commemorative walking tour as part of the OHM “Collective City” weekend in July 2023. The generous support provided by Jill Garner AM, Victorian Government Architect, in hosting the walking tour alongside ARBV Chairperson, Dr Giorgio Marfella is deeply appreciated. This support includes the identification of buildings for the walking tour that depict the evolution of architecture and the growing needs of Victorians and showcase how the architecture profession that is regulated by the ARBV has contributed to our built environment over the last 100 years.

Grants and sponsorships by ARBV must be linked to the objective of the advancement of architectural education as set out Section 59(1) of the Architects Act 1991 and cognisant of ARBV’s principal role as a regulator.

From time to time the ARBV supports programs or activities that advance continuing education and learning for practising architects, as a collective group, and which aim to address one or more of the following:

  • encourage continuous improvement in professional competency, conduct and integrity
  • drive awareness of risk associated with the provision of architectural services and/or promote risk mitigation
  • deliver improved compliance with the regulatory regime for architects leading to strengthened consumer experience and confidence in the Victorian architectural regulatory framework.

Grants and sponsorships by ARBV also consider whether proposals:

  • raise awareness of and increase positive regard and understanding for ARBV’s role as a regulator
  • build stronger relationships with and encourage participation by stakeholders.

Sponsorship of OHM fulfils these objectives.

Architectural Student Professional Practice Awards

The Architectural Student Professional Practice Awards are in recognition of the importance of education linked to the professional practice of architecture.

Recognising ARBV’s important consumer protection role, awards are provided each year to the top 4th or 5th year student in a professional practice subject demonstrating the highest level of performance in this field and are available at the 5 Victorian schools of architecture.

Recipients receive a grant of $1,000 as a contribution towards the student’s further studies or professional development. Two students received awards in the reporting period.

Statement of Expectations

The revised Statement of Expectations (SOE) framework, issued by the Minister for Planning in July 2021 for the period to June 2023, included the following performance improvements and targeted outcomes on which an update on progress is provided.

SOE Performance, improvements and targeted outcomesSOE targetARBV progress

Improved timeliness

Development and implementation of a Service Charter - setting out ARBV's service commitment and defining the response times to improve quality of service.

By 30 June 2023:

Undertake development and implementation of ARBV Service Charter - setting out ARBV's service commitment and defining the response times to improve quality of service for:

  • enquiries about Registration
  • managing applications for registration
  • keeping the Register of Architects up to date
  • providing updates
  • about progress of enquiries, applications, or complaints about professional conduct
  • acknowledging and responding to complaints about the ARBV.

Establishment of Service Charter completed. Adhering to commitments is ongoing.

Risk-based strategies

Make greater use of data to refine risk-based strategy and report on how outcomes from regulatory activity under the Strategy align with ARBV's strategic priorities.

By June 2023:

Further develop initial risk profiles based on areas of concern for possible harm to help predict the likelihood of non-compliance. This should be further developed and refined as the CRM is embedded by enabling increased capacity for data collection and analysis and information sharing arrangements.

Develop focused strategies that address the most significant existing and emerging compliance issues in tandem with developing improved data analytics to better identify emerging trends and targeting of non-compliance of most need and impact. The strategies will ensure:

  • ARBV has a Regulatory Strategy which it uses to develop an annual proactive strategic plan - a proactive strategic plan to be launched in July 2021 with a new plan every year.
  • Signal any trends that identify a risk/problem with industry.
  • Report on how outcomes from regulatory activity under the Regulatory Strategy align with the ARBV's strategic priorities in the ARBV annual report and website.

By July 2021:

  • ARBV to complete development of the Performance Monitoring Framework and bring to operation and among other things to assess the outcomes from regulatory activities and how they align with strategic priorities.

Risk-profiling is an ongoing activity.

Proactive Strategic Plan is developed annually, and targeted regulatory activities informed by research and data analytics are delivered on an ongoing basis to address existing and emerging compliance issues.

Outcomes from regulatory activity undertaken are reported in the Annual Report, on the website and in quarterly newsletters

Performance Monitoring Framework has been developed and ARBV regularly assesses the outcomes from regulatory activities and their alignment with strategic priorities.

Accountability and transparency

Coordinate feedback from regulated entities and other stakeholders to identify opportunities to improve regulatory design and interaction with stakeholders.

Publish the ways in which information gathered will be used.

Consider digital mechanisms for interactions and feedback where possible.

By December 2021:

Publish a public-facing Regulatory Strategy with a clear definition of how ARBV administers regulation and, where appropriate, how regulation is enforced - e.g., transparent complaints mechanisms and transparency about the reasons for enforcement decisions).

By June 2022:

Establish digital mechanisms for consumers and architects to provide feedback- e.g., when completing forms and making suggestions for improvement in accordance with the Service Charter.

Define a clear purpose for all information that is collected to ensure it supports regulatory requirements.

By June 2023:

Report and publish key regulatory trends identified and insights emerging from data collected and information and feedback received. Any reporting or publication should explain how that information has been used to inform and prioritise regulatory activities and guide the delivery of the regulatory strategy.

Undertake surveys and other targeted activities to understand regulatory issues that will inform future regulatory activities - with surveys administered on an annual basis to provide currency and an opportunity to compare results over time.

The public-facing Statement of Regulatory Approach is published on the website.

Digital mechanisms for consumers and architects to provide feedback have been established.

A clear purpose is defined for all information that is collected to ensure it supports regulatory requirements

Trends and insights have been published together with information about how they have been used to inform and prioritise regulatory activities and guide the delivery of the regulatory strategy.

Targeted activities have been undertaken to understand regulatory issues and inform future regulatory activities. This included the joint research project with the NSW ARB on systemic risks in the architecture sector.

Cooperation among regulators

Cooperate with regulators in Victoria and nationally - through internal seminar sessions and other measures to identify good practice and share lessons; actively collaborate with other regulators where needed to support regulatory outcomes.

Information to be made publicly available in relation to the work that the ARBV undertakes with other regulators.

By December 2022:

Prepare instruments to clarify regulator roles where there are shared accountabilities and promote coordination between regulators (for example, memorandums of understanding, formal agreements or contracts for service provision).

Collaboration with co- regulators and related stakeholders to establish/renew information sharing agreements, memorandums of understanding or service level agreements is ongoing.

Stakeholder consultation and engagement

Review stakeholder engagement forms, data requests and compliance processes to consider the extent to which they can be digitised to ensure relevancy and efficiency in future.

By June 2022:

Review all forms, data requests and other registration and compliance processes with a view to digitising to ensure relevancy and efficiency in a COVID/post-COVID environment.

All forms, data requests and other registration and compliance processes have been digitised.

Role clarity

Provide more information to clarify the roles of the ARBV and other regulators or statutory bodies, where there are shared accountabilities.

By December 2021:

  • Provide information for consumers in plain English explanations of the difference between the role of architects and other related design professionals.
  • Ensure adequate information is available to consumers to understand the design process easily.

Information for consumers is available on the website explaining the difference between the role of architects and other related design professionals.

Information for consumers about the design process is available on the website.

Updated