In this month’s article my intention is to update our members about the ongoing work to establish a register for engineers here in Western Australia.
The title “engineer” is not protected in Australia, therefore anyone can claim to be an engineer and practice without the necessary competencies, understanding of standards, or in compliance with a code of ethics. This exposes our profession to poor quality engineering, a lack of public trust, and increased general risk – be it financial, safety or environmental.
Most people are surprised to learn that the engineering profession does not have this technical assurance in place, compared with other professions such as medicine, law, accounting, teaching, architecture etc. which all require registration, either on a state or national level.
It has been strongly advocated by Engineers Australia for many years that as part of maintaining professional standards we need to ensure that our engineers are properly qualified, assessed, responsible for their own ongoing continuous professional development (CPD), and are accountable to a code of ethics. For EA this is known as the Chartered Engineer process.
Furthermore, Australia should have a national register of engineers whose competency and integrity have been assessed against a national benchmark standard of professionalism.
As a result, the National Engineering Register (NER) was launched by EA in 2016. There are currently over 16,000 people registered, and it is publicly available and searchable online. The EA chartered engineer route is one way (and by far the most common) onto the register, and the other is by individual assessment.
The register has been designed to be low-cost and flexible, such that each state can adopt their own system of registration. We have seen the long-standing requirement for registration in Queensland under the RPEQ (Registered Professional Engineer Queensland) now being adopted by Victoria under an act of legislation being tabled in the State Parliament. There are other limited versions already in place in NSW, Tasmania, and ACT.
In 2017 Engineers Australia has been active on behalf of its members in meeting with the new WA Labor Government ministers, to advocate the establishment of a register of engineers for Western Australia. As the EA national registrar and main person overseeing the NER, it was great to Glen Crawley’s attendance at these meetings.
The idea has been positively received - the work now is to continue to progress the establishment of a WA register with both sides of government as we move through 2017 – this could be a long process but we feel we are on the right track.
To progress your career, I highly recommend joining the Chartered Engineering program.
You can contact me directly at [email protected]
Best regards, James Westcott