The importance of the engineering profession is one step closer to being recognised in Victorian legislation, with the introduction of a bill to highlight the critical nature of engineering skills and increase public confidence.
Unlike many parts of Asia, the US and Europe, the term ‘engineer’, and the training, experience and proven professional competence it entails does not have national statutory protection in Australia.
Currently, Queensland is the only state of territory with a comprehensive registration scheme for engineer.
Victoria is poised to follow Queensland’s lead, with the introduction of the Engineers Registration Bill to state parliament yesterday. If passed, the bill will introduce a state-wide mandatory registration system for engineers providing professional services in Victoria or exporting their services from the state.
According to Engineers Australia CEO Peter McIntyre, the organisation has been working closely with the Victorian Government to ensure that the legislation provides industry, the community and government that engineers in Victoria are qualified and working to professional standards.
McIntyre stated that this will bring us into line with global efforts to establish the reputation of engineering as a critical profession.
"Many countries see engineering as a critical profession, whose practitioners are recognised and registered by government.”
The Victorian and Queensland governments are working to introduce mutual recognition between the two states’ schemes once the Victorian legislation has passed.
In Queensland, engineers use the National Engineering Register (NER) as a pathway to government registration. McIntyre expects that Victoria, and other states and territories who subsequently adopt mandatory registration, will follow a similar path.
McIntyre encouraged engineers to register on the NER before the Victorian legislation takes effect.
"The NER not only fulfils engineers’ professional practice obligations, but showcases their capabilities to prospective employers and consumers of engineering services," McIntyre said.
The introduction of mandatory registration for engineers will not only recognise the importance of the profession, but reduce the risks of work that does not meet professional standards.
"Risks may include increased construction and rectification costs, litigation expenses, lost production and injury or death,” McIntyre explained.
Unlike professions like law and medicine, there is currently no national provision to prevent engineers from practicing due to professional negligence.
While consistent national legislation to introduce mandatory registration for engineers is yet to be achieved, McIntyre said that the NER provides important information about professionals who have chosen to register.
“Engineers Australia’s NER will provide information about expected professional standards and whether engineers have the requisite professional practices that support the services they offer," he said.
The second reading of the Engineers Registration Bill was moved in the Victorian Parliament today and the bill has now been made publically available on the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website.