Guidelines on Professional Conduct and Practice
Regulation 7 (1) of the Architects Regulations 2015 empowers the Board to prepare guidelines on professional conduct and practice for architects, approved partnerships and companies. The guidelines must be published on the website.
The Victorian Architects Code of Professional Conduct (Code) addresses an architect’s suitability to perform and knowledge of services by stating -
2(1) An architect in charge of a client's project must -
(a) have suitable skills and experience to be in charge of the project; and
(b) maintain a thorough knowledge of the architectural services to be
provided and of matters relating to the performance of those services.
The Board uses the phrase Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to describe the requirement in the Code for practising architects to maintain the appropriate level of knowledge, skill and competence.
Whilst engagement in CPD activities may assist an architect to enhance their professional skills and knowledge, engagement in CPD activities does not substitute the positive duty imposed on an architect in charge of a client's project, by clause 2 of the Code, to (a) have suitable skills and experience to be in charge of the project; and (b) maintain a thorough knowledge of the architectural services to be provided in relation to that project and matters relating to the performance of those services.
The CPD framework approved by the Board is based on a joint policy developed by the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA) and the Australian Institute of Architects, and recommends that practising architects obtain a minimum of 20 CPD points a year, of which 10 are formal CPD. The Board encourages architects to comply with this national CPD model each year.
Architects are encouraged to have an annual CPD plan that addresses the architect’s needs and enhances skills and knowledge. Each year, CPD activities should relate to a minimum of two units in the National Architecture Competency Standards – Design, Documentation, Practice Management and Project Management. The National Competency Standards in Architecture (NCSA) can be downloaded from the AACA website www.aaca.org.au
Architects are encouraged to record their CPD activity on the database by logging in, and listing what CPD has been completed for how many points.
The Board may advise architects on compliance. Regulation 8 of the Architects Regulations 2015 gives the Board the power to give written advice to an architect on compliance, and regulation 8 (2) states that the Board may advise an architect in relation to a practice or conduct that the Board reasonably believes -
does not comply with the Guidelines prepared under regulation 7; or
does not comply with the Act or these Regulations; or
affects an architect’s fitness to practice; or amounts to unprofessional conduct.
While it does not endorse, accredit or approve any provider or course officially, the Board may provide information about CPD activities to architects via social media or the website, and may produce online CPD activities.
Continuing Professional Development: information about the national model
There is an expectation today, by Government, the public, consumers and insurers that providers of professional services are maintaining their knowledge, skill and competencies. This is also reflected in many Acts of Parliament that control the governing bodies of various professions. Architects are no different and participating in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is one way Architects can ensure that they maintain and enhance professional knowledge and skills, to maintain technical excellence and to better serve the community and profession.
Framework model for CPD
The Architects Registration Board of Victoria has developed this CPD framework based on a joint policy developed by the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia and the Australian Institute of Architects, and various models adopted nationally.
This should ensure that architects registered in more than one state or territory need only keep one set of CPD records. The Board is also committed to making the types of qualifying CPD activities as broad as possible recognising that continuing education that develops knowledge, skills and competencies may originate from many sources.
This model takes as its basis the National Competency Standards of Architecture (NSCA). The NSCA identifies reasonable standards to be achieved for registration, and requires that architects will possess an understanding across all competencies and be able to contribute to the resolution of complex architectural problems. Whilst the practice of architecture often involves specialisation, registration requires all competencies to be understood throughout a person's professional career.
The NCSA prescribes standards in four units:
- Project Management; and
- Practice Management.
Continuing Professional Development
The objective of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is to maintain and enhance professional knowledge and skills of architects, to maintain technical excellence and to better serve the community and profession.
Continuing Professional Development should :
- Relate to the practice as an architect.
- Be additional to the activities normally undertaken in the course or practice of architecture or architectural employment.
- Relate to the ‘National Competency Standards in Architecture’ (NCSA). The NCSA are produced by the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia and can be downloaded from their website www.aaca.org.au.
CPD activities may be either formal or informal as defined below:
- Formal CPD – A formal CPD activity must be ‘structured’ in a learning environment with structured learning outcomes or assessment. A learning outcome is a general term that is used to state specifically what architects should know and
- Informal CPD – An informal CPD activity must relate to practice as an architect (with the basis in the context of the NCSA) and is in addition to activities already undertaken in the normal course of practice or employment but is not structured.
The CPD model proposed which has been tailored to the requirements of Victorian Architects, recommends that registered architects to satisfy a minimum of 20 hours of CPD per registration year – 10 formal and 10 informal hours.
Definition of FORMAL CPD Activities
Examples of formal CPD activities include :
- Seminars at educational facilities, in-house seminars, workshops, courses, conferences, online and distance learning;
- Authorship of published articles, books, papers (up to 5 hours);
- Preparation and presentation of material to be used in a CPD activity or in other forms of education ie. lecturing (up to 5 hours) –when this is not your full-time employment;
- Postgraduate degree or diploma courses (up to 5 hours);
- Design workshops, lectures and seminars;
- Organised learning groups.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, only two hours can be claimed for a formal activity at any one time.
Definition of INFORMAL CPD Activities
Examples of informal CPD activities include:
- self-directed study of practice notes, technical magazines;
- talks and presentations by peers;
- preparation / presentation for peer review;
- site visits;
- involvement in mentoring programs;
- research through practice (collective memory bank);
- competitions (research above and beyond normal practice);
- participation in professional practice committees and advisory groups - through professional associations, regulatory authorities, task forces, government bodies;
- local area networks (LAN) chairs, presenter and attendance;
- raising awareness of architecture in primary and secondary schools;
- relevant volunteer / pro bono work.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, two hours can be claimed for an informal activity for the period of assessment.
Activities that simply promote product brand names and services will not be deemed to be a CPD activity unless they satisfy educational criteria.
Non-practising architects, and newly registered architects (in the financial year they register) do not need to follow the CPD recommendations.
Selecting Appropriate CPD Activities
The CPD recommendations don’t specify mandatory topics, however it is acknowledged that each CPD activity should be contained within one or more units and context of the NCSA.
Architects are encouraged to consider and plan their CPD programme. CPD should be seen by architects as an opportunity to review areas of their knowledge that may require development, and ensure that skills are not only maintained, but current. It is noted that generally the profession already participates in forms of CPD.
CPD activities are provided by a number of organisations and individuals including:
- accredited training providers;
- universities, TAFE;
- professional and industry associations especially the AIA; organised learning groups or networks
- commercial education and training providers employers;
- product and service suppliers (activities that simply promote product brand names and services would not be deemed to be an appropriate CPD activity)
The Board does not accredit CPD providers.
Architects should consider available individual activity information to determine if the activity would be considered formal or informal - and if the relevant activity is applicable to the individual's CPD program.
Recording CPD Activity
Architects are encouraged to record their CPD activity online using the ARBV website (a password protected area for architects). The records provide for entry and identification and annotation of all CPD - the course or task undertaken, and the topics and competency standards addressed if relevant.
If an architect is registered in more than one state or territory, the architect must still comply with the requirements in those jusrisdictions. The hours do not have to be in addition to those used for compliance in another state or territory. The hours of CPD acquired in another state or territory may be used to satisfy the Victorian recommendations.
Please find a link to the national CPD policy, agreed to by the AACA and AIA in 2006, on the AACA website here.