Proposed Changes to the WA Architects Act

Architects Act2

As part of the regular review of the Architects Act, the Department of Commerce has released some proposals for amendments to the Architects Act. Those of us who are registered may have seen the letter come through from the Board, and not paid it much mind. But there are actually some quite interesting points in there. The Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement (CRIS) has been released, and is open for comments now. Its long, but is worth the read.There’s some interesting proposals in there relating to building designers and how they are recognised (some which I agree with, some I don’t). If you have ever had issue with how building designers are treated, how registration works, and/or how the term ‘architect’ gets used and abused, I would recommend at least reading through the outlines of the first few proposals and making comment to the review panel – things don’t change if nobody says anything!

In summary, the proposals are:

  1. That the Act be retained and architects continue to be registered in WA by the Architects Board.
  2. That consideration of whether to regulate architects and building designers under the Building Services (Registration) Act 2011 be deferred until a review of that act is due (August 2016).
  3. That the national recognition model for architects be implemented in WA.
  4. That further analysis and consultation with industry be carried out to determine the feasibility of :
    • defining some or all of the terms “architect”, “architectural”, “architecture” or, the use of new terms such as “architectural work services” or “in the work of an architect”, to better define the scope of services provided by architects and to ensure the services provided by building designers are not captured by the Act; or
    • removing the terms “architectural” and “architecture” in the Act while maintaining restrictions on the use of the words “architect” and “architects” to persons with specific qualifications prescribed in the Regulations.
  5. That the Act or Regulations are amended to clarify which members of the Board are able to have a casting vote.
  6. That regulation 9(b) is amended to state that each candidate is to be taken to be elected at the expiry of the incumbent’s term.
  7. That regulation 10 is amended to no longer require the publication of names in the Government Gazette.
  8. That following comment from registered architects, consideration be given to:
    • reducing the number of members on the Board from 10 to 6 or 7; and
    • replacing the process of electing members with a process whereby the Minister selects members based on the nominations of the key associations within the architecture profession.
  9. That clause 1(2) of Schedule 1 is amended to provide that when an elected member vacates their position early, the Board may :
    • appoint a registered person for the remainder of the term if there is less than one year remaining; or
    • hold an election in accordance with the Regulations and to appoint the elected member for the remainder of the expiring member’s term.
  10. That Schedule 1 be amended to clarify that once elected, the chairperson or deputy chairperson remain in their positions without requiring re-election unless they leave or are removed from that position by a vote of the Board members.
  11. That the Act be amended to clarify the power of the Board to delegate its inspection and investigation powers, including the power of entry, to other persons as it determines.
  12. That the penalties available under the Act be increased to reflect the penalties available for similar legislation in other states/territories, as well as other occupational registration legislation in Western Australia.
  13. That section 33(4) of the Act be amended to:
    • enable the Board to rely on AACA advice in relation to an applicant’s qualifications or standard in relation to the practice of architecture; and
    • provide for applicants to pay for the cost of AACA assessments.
  14. That the Act be amended to allow for all natural persons and corporations to display their registration or licence numbers on all stationery, advertisements, signage and other information given to the public about the applicant’s architectural work.
  15. That:
    • the requirement under section 55 of the Act for licensed corporations to advise the Board of proposed changes to their constitution be repealed; and
    • regulation 15(a), which requires that a corporation’s constitution is, or the rules governing the corporation’s internal management are, acceptable to the Board, be deleted.
  16. That:
    • the existing date upon which fees for renewal of registration are due be changed from 30 September to 30 June;
    • a provision similar to section 12(3)(a) of the Building Services (Registration) Act 2011 be introduced that maintains an architect’s registration status for up to three months until the renewal fee is paid (along with a late payment penalty);
    • the Board be able to remove architects from the register that have not provided their insurance details on time;
    • regulations 16A, 16B and 16C(1), (2) and (3) be deleted; and
    • the Regulations be amended to introduce three year registration/licence renewals for architects.
  17. That:
    • examination fees contained in Schedule 1 of the Regulations be removed and a regulation be made enabling fees for those examinations to be based on the fees set by the AACA for all states and territories; and
    • delete the fee in Schedule of the Regulations relating to the Supplementary Examination by Interview.
  18. That sections 44 and 45 of the Act be amended to allow that charging a fee be discretionary rather mandatory for:
    • obtaining a certified copy of the register or any part of, or entry in, the register; and
    • amending particulars in the register.
  19. That section 57(2) of the Act be amended to allow the Board to deal with minor disciplinary matters.
  20. That a section be inserted into the Act stating that architects must provide a written agreement to their clients and failure to do so would result in disciplinary action under the Act.
  21. That further consideration be given to the need to implement a legislated Code of Conduct for architects, following comment from industry.
  22. That further investigation is carried out about the process available for review of a Board decision by the State Administrative Tribunal.
  23. That further analysis and consultation be carried out with non-traditional corporations (‘NTC’s) and the wider architectural profession to determine the feasibility of defining the term “architectural work services” to better delineate the architectural and non-architectural services of NTC’s.
  24. That section 68 of the Act is amended to include the term “retired architect”.

Closing date for comments is 22nd May, so hurry! The process for commenting is on the last page of the PDF linked above.

For further information on the review email architectsreview@commerce.wa.gov.au

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