Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer or Registrar report

Report by Dr Giorgio Marfella, the Chairperson of the ARBV and Dr Glenice Fox, CEO/Registrar of the ARBV.

The beginning of 2023 marked the ARBVs centenary, our 100th year ensuring architectural services in Victoria are delivered according to high professional standards and contribute to improved building outcomes for the benefit of the community. To mark this significant milestone our board and staff have reflected on the history of the ARBV and how the architectural landscape has changed in Victoria over the past 100 years.

We have formed a partnership with Open House Melbourne (OHM) and will be hosting events in conjunction with OHM to celebrate our centenary. We will be hosting a commemorative walking tour as part of the OHM “Collective City” weekend in July 2023, and will be holding a celebration event later in 2023 which will include a panel discussion focusing on the ARBV’s vision of a well-designed, liveable and safe built environment in the context of the past, present and future of the architecture profession regulated in Victoria.

The most significant initiatives that have commenced or were completed in the last 12 months, and the steps taken to meet our overarching strategic goals are outlined in this annual report. In the 2022-23 financial year the ARBV settled into the new hybrid working model, with staff working a combination of remotely and on-site each week.

Business as usual saw regulatory oversight of more than 6,500 practising architects and approved companies and partnerships, over 300 Architectural Practice Examinations held, and approximately 8,000 enquiries received and responded to. Several matters were referred to the Architects Tribunal and the ARBV prosecuted a person in the Magistrates' Court of Victoria for offences against the Architects Act 1991.

The ARBV continued to work closely with other regulators and both State and Commonwealth Government agencies, including through chairing the National Registrars Forum for regulators of the architecture profession throughout Australia and collaboration with other regulators such as the Victorian Building Authority in improving standards of practice e.g., as part of the Design Standards Working Group.

We also continued to work closely with the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia on matters concerning the standard of architecture education and the practice of architecture in Australia, which supports ARBV’s vital role in monitoring and providing accreditation for Schools of Architecture in Victorian universities.

In the second half of 2022 the ARBV and the New South Wales Architects Registration Board (NSWARB) completed a research project to identify current, emerging, and future systemic compliance issues and associated risks affecting the regulation of architects in Victoria and New South Wales.

Findings from the research project are now being used to inform the proactive regulatory strategies employed by the ARBV, and NSW ARB respectively, in order to mitigate harm caused by systemic risks. Plans are in place to conduct focus groups with a range of relevant stakeholders across the building and construction sectors in the second half of 2023 to further unpack the key themes identified in the context of the research project.

In November 2022 we launched a new webinar series providing free continuing professional development for architects, aimed at addressing emerging trends and issues arising for both architects and consumers of architectural services in Victoria. Three webinars were held in the financial year, covering a range of issues including how to manage client budgets and project costs, client architect agreements and partial services, as well as a detailed overview of the report produced from the research project into systemic risks in the Australian architecture sector.

In February 2023 amendments were made to the Architects Act 1991, primarily to make changes to provide for the application of the Architects Act1991 to interstate architects practising in Victoria under the Automatic Mutual Recognition (AMR)scheme and to facilitate AMR.

The legislative changes include definitions relevant to this scheme and a requirement that architects under the scheme provide proof of insurance in line with the requirements of architects registered in Victoria. The amendments also include provisions on publishing disciplinary actions and removing individuals from the Register of Architects.

Further amendments to the Architects Act 1991 received royal assent in June 2023 and will come into operation as provided for in the Building Legislation Amendment Act 2023. These changes, when they come into operation, will strengthen and improve governance arrangements of the ARBV.

In May 2023, the Lieutenant-Governor made regulations to change architects’ registration fees. Significant work was undertaken in collaboration with the former Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and the Department of Transport and Planning (DTP) to progress the review of fees. The objective of resetting registration fees was to ensure that the ARBV can deliver its regulatory services to meet government, industry and community expectations effectively, while maintaining an independent and sound financial position.

Key industry stakeholders including the Australian Institute of Architects, Association of Consulting Architects and ArchiTeam were closely consulted and provided input into the new fee structure proposed by the ARBV. Income from the fees will enable us to continue to regulate, educate and engage to ensure architectural services are delivered according to high professional standards and contribute to improved building outcomes for the benefit of industry and the community.

In the last quarter of the financial year, the ARBV worked with DTP to provide input on the development of the Minister’s Statement of Expectations (SoE) for the ARBV effective from July 2023. Priority elements identified to be addressed in the SoE will assist the ARBV to foster better practice in regulation and achieve improvements in regulatory efficiency and effectiveness, demonstrating the ARBV’s value as a trusted regulator supporting the delivery of a high-quality built environment.

In providing input in the development of the new SoE the ARBV is mindful of the Building System Review’s Expert Panel Stage 1 Report, particularly recommendation 12: Modernise legislative schemes and regulate governance and operations for architects and design practitioners to ensure alignment with best practice and that qualification requirements include a focus on compliance with current regulatory settings. 

The ARBV has also worked with the former DELWP and DTP during the year to consider and progress a range of legislative reform proposals to strengthen and optimise the ARBV’s powers under the Architects Act 1991.

Our dedicated staff have worked hard to progress initiatives that support our strategic priorities as set out in the Strategic Plan 2022-26, including the delivery of new projects that benefit the profession and the broader sector. We thank our small team of staff for their steadfast contributions over the last year.

We also thank the members of the ARBV Board, Bruce Allen, Sophie Cleland, Mark Curry, Richard Drew, Stefan Preuss, Sally Wills, Danielle Roche (resigned in March 2023) and Richard Salter, for their ongoing support and strategic advice, as well as their commitment to promoting higher standards of professional conduct among architects in the public interest. A special thanks is due to our Deputy Chairperson Richard Salter, who completed his term in June 2023 after serving the ARBV for 2 terms of appointment.

Lastly, thank you to our duty holders, the Victorian architects, for their ongoing support to the ARBV through registration and the valuable services they continue to provide to their clients and the Victorian community.