New requirements for Victoria’s professional engineers explained

According to the latest Hays Quarterly Report, civil engineers, civil designers, land surveyors and project architects are among professional and business services experts in high demand but short supply.On July 1, the Professional Engineers Registration Act 2019 came into effect in Victoria. Roads & Infrastructure looks at the implications for each engineering category.

The Act requires all individuals who provide professional engineering services in a prescribed area of engineering in Victoria, or intended for Victoria, to be registered with the Business Licensing Authority (BLA) and to renew their registration every three years, showing sufficient continuous development.

The organisations administering approved assessment schemes will play a key role in ensuring that professional engineering services in Victoria are provided by suitably qualified and experienced engineers, while setting out the requirements for the level of experience and continuing professional development the engineers will be assessed against.

The Act introduces five areas of engineers for registration, which include civil, structural, mechanical, electrical and fire safety. The requirements for each of the five areas of engineering will be progressively introduced by 1 December 2023.

Under the phased enactment of the registration scheme, the requirements for each area of engineering will come into effect as below:

Fire safety engineering – mandatory registration from 1 December 2021
Civil Engineering – mandatory registration from 1 October 2022
Structural Engineering – mandatory registration from 1 October 2022
Electrical Engineering – mandatory registration from 1 June 2023
Mechanical Engineering – mandatory registration from 1 December 2023

Engineering practitioners will not be required to be registered if they work under the direct supervision of a registered practising professional engineer or only in accordance with a prescriptive standard.

Further, it is an offence under section 68(4) of the Act for a person who is not a registered professional engineer to use the title ‘professional engineer’.

For the purposes of the Act, professional engineering services include any service that requires engineering judgement, knowledge and skill to provide professional and fit-for-purpose engineering services.

These services may include (but are not limited to) providing consultation, evaluation, engineering studies, design of engineering works and systems, design drawings, specifications, modelling, simulations, reviews and advice and other technical submissions reviewing for the purposes of informing engineering decisions for the use or modifications of design or construction products such as drawings and specifications related to engineered works, and assessing proposed modifications that may impact the basis of design.

Under the state government’s co-regulatory model, the registration for professional engineers is a two-step process:

  1. The assessment entities will assess an applicant’s eligibility for registration under an Assessment Scheme approved by Victoria’s Business Licensing Authority by reviewing their qualifications, experience and continuing professional development activity (for registration renewal only).
  2. The Business Licensing Authority will approve and revoke the approval of assessment schemes determine applications for registration and renewal (probity checks inclusive of criminal history checks and matters relating to fitness to practice) maintain a Register of Professional Engineers, including changes following disciplinary action.

Three organisations, namely Engineers Australia, Institute of Public Words Engineering Australasia – Victoria (IPWEA Victoria) and Association of Professional Engineers Australia (APEA) have been approved as assessment entities for the Victorian Government’s Professional Engineers Registration Scheme.

Each entity has its own assessment pathway, which might be slightly different from the other.

IPWEA Victoria operates a BLA-approved Assessment Scheme and will accept and assess applications from applicants seeking registration in the ‘civil’ area of engineering only. IPWEA Victoria’s Assessment Scheme does not require participation in any member certification scheme. The IPWEA Victoria has organised a webinar on July 14 where the IPWEA Victoria CEO David Hallett will outline the latest developments. The webinar will also provide one hour of Continuing Professional Development for professional engineers.

APEA will be providing assessments for Victorian registration in four out of five areas, excluding fire safety.

Engineers Australia has also been approved as an assessment entity, providing an assessment pathway for professional engineers. As Engineers Australia has confirmed, Chartered and NER professional engineers in Victoria will be deemed assessed in their area of practice. Those who are not members of Engineers Australia will also be able to apply for an assessment through Engineers Australia via the BLA-direct pathway.

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