Engineers Australia reviewed its complaints process and disciplinary proceedings in 2022 to ensure:
- A modern, best-practice process that protects the rights of all parties.
- A process that ensures professional engineering standards are maintained and members are accountable, ethical and competent.
- A process that creates member and public confidence.
Engineers Australia commissioned Peter Gow to review our complaints process in light of expanded statutory registration and calls for Engineers Australia to take a more active role in overseeing the professional conduct of its members.
The outcomes of the review will be implemented over three phases.
- Phase 1: Interim improvements that do not require changes to Engineers Australia’s General regulations.
- Phase 2: More significant changes that require changes to the Engineers Australia regulations, bylaws and charter.
- Phase 3: In the long-term, exploring what co-regulation could mean for Engineers Australia and its regulatory partners.
Phase 1: Is well underway, including updating our website to better support those seeking to understand the process and to report outcome statistics. Phase 1 also includes a review of our Terms and Conditions to better support the complaints process.
Phase 2: Has also commenced with the drafting of clearer guidelines and changes to governance documentation that will provide greater flexibility. For example, the ability to set up subcommittees to deal with complaints. A recommendation is being presented to the Board to expand membership of the Professional Conduct Committee.
Phase 3: As a professional membership body, Engineers Australia does not have regulatory powers. Exploring with regulatory partners what this may look like in the future is underway.
The complaints process is an element of the Engineers Australia Professional Standards Framework (PSF). Work is being undertaken to strengthen the PSF to articulate how it does, and can, strengthen the profession.
With engineer registration now well advanced in QLD, NSW and VIC, and soon to be introduced in the ACT and WA, Engineers Australia will continue to advocate for registration of engineers.
We are actively working to seek greater consistency across jurisdictions as the implications of registration are being seen. Until a national registration system is possible, mutual recognition legislation and the recently introduced Automatic Deemed Registration (ADR), when fully functional, will greatly reduce the cost and effort in gaining registration for individuals who work across states and territories. When ADR is fully introduced into Australia, an engineer will only need to be registered in a 'home' state and will be able to practice in other states without having to gain any further registrations.
Currently the states and territories are responsible for the statutory registration of engineers and we are working closely and consistently with state and territory authorities to design registration schemes and operate assessment schemes where statutory registration is already in force.