ARBV Chairperson report

Report by Dr Giorgio Marfella, the Chairperson of the ARBV.

I am pleased to present the annual report of the Architects Registration Board of Victoria (ARBV) for the 2020-21 financial year. The 2020-21 year was a period of hard work and achievements, culminating in June 2021 with the ARBV completing a cycle of strategic and organisational initiatives and delivering key performance measures set out in the Statement of Expectations (SOE) for 2019-2021, issued in August 2019 by the Minister for Planning, The Hon. Richard Wynne.

The ARBV has continued to strengthen its position as a contemporary and trusted regulator. Today, the ARBV is in a strong position to act with timeliness in its decision-making and communications, effectively apply risk-based regulatory strategies in the delivery of its operations, as well as respond to current and emerging compliance issues. The ARBV has produced educative guidance material and information to support regulated entities to comply with their obligations, worked co-operatively with other regulators, engaged with its stakeholders, and remained accountable and transparent as a financially sound and independent public entity.

This annual report outlines in detail the fulfilment of these achievements.

Undeterred by the disruptions of the global pandemic, the ARBV never lost sight of the performance measures in the Ministerial SOE and used its best efforts to fulfil them. Working and engaging remotely all year, staff continued to carry out their duties supporting the ARBV to effectively and efficiently perform its statutory function to administer the Architects Act 1991 (Vic) and the Architects Regulations 2015. The ARBV has also continued to engage daily with all its registered architects through its newly launched website and several communication channels.

While critical activities continued as business-as-usual in a coronavirus (COVID-19) context, the Board and senior staff worked to revise and refine ARBV’s comprehensive regulatory framework. This work saw the release of a suite of Regulatory Strategy documents in June 2021 that frame the principles, priorities, and procedures necessary to guide a risk-based approach to the regulation of the profession of architecture.

The complexity of the contemporary built environment demands that regulators discern general trends and patterns emerging from individual cases. Awareness of this need led the Board to review and enhance both the static and dynamic risk assessments in the Regulatory Strategy and develop a new proactive campaign, which will be informed and refined by data collected about current and emerging risks.

The new Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) will be critical for implementing future proactive initiatives. The ARBV commissioned this capital investment in digital infrastructure, launching it with great effort from all staff within the short period of 6 months. The CRM provides a more user-friendly interface for architects in their dealings with the ARBV and a more robust and efficient IT platform for staff. Over the medium and long term, the CRM will be a valuable instrument to elicit data and research concerning the regulation of the profession in Victoria.

The 2020-21 year was also notable for 2 milestones related to professional education. For the first time, all Victorian architects were required to complete a mandatory declaration that they complied with Continuing Professional Development (CPD) obligations. The benefits and imperatives of continual professional education are unquestionable.

Committing to undertake CPD is a social responsibility, is consistent with the national framework and will provide more confidence and reassurance to the public about the competence of architects.

The second milestone relevant to professional education was the development of a set of ARBV Guidelines under Regulation 7 of the Architects Regulations 2015 on professional conduct and practice for architects. The Guidelines are a new resource for Victorian architects published on the ARBV website, complementing a large body of existing resources and materials available. The Guidelines underline matters of professional conduct and guide architects on best practice and obligations they must comply with under the Architects Act 1991(Vic) and Architects Regulations 2015 (including the Victorian Architects Code of Professional Conduct).

The ARBV continues to work closely with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, the Victorian Building Authority and numerous industry and representative bodies and has been working towards establishing an Industry and Consumer Forum, for the purpose of gathering insights, perspectives and ultimately intelligence from multiple stakeholders. Enduring channels of constructive dialogue and engagement are always open with key representatives of the architectural profession, such as the Australian Institute of Architects, the Association of Consulting Architects, ArchiTeam Co, the Office of the Victorian Government Architect, the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia, and the Registration Boards of other states and territories.

The achievements completed and ongoing activities progressed in this busy period cannot be attributed to any one individual. Rather, they reflect the collective effort of the entire organisation. Progress and developments at the ARBV in 2020-21, completed or ongoing as an enduring legacy, also represent the fruit of the service of colleagues who completed their terms of office on the Board during this period, including former Chairperson, Karen Alcock, who led the ARBV with admirable energy and flawless dedication, and committed Board members Stuart Brown, Catherine Duggan and David Islip.

I wish to acknowledge with appreciation the work and leadership of all the ARBV staff, including the Interim Registrar, Allan Bawden, who filled the leadership position until the role was permanently filled with the appointment of our current Chief Executive Officer and Registrar, Dr Glenice Fox. The appointment of Dr Fox has brought a stimulating atmosphere to the organisation.

Her leadership inspires trust and confidence in the ability of the ARBV to continue growing over the long term, starting with the implementation of a new set of performance measures set out in the Ministerial Statement of Expectations for 2021-23.