As part of this review, the Expert Panel identified a number of specific issues impacting on efficiency in the building industry. These issues could be addressed with targeted interventions; interventions to be addressed rapidly while the core review work was commencing. The recommendations are in the process of being implemented and constitute a program of early initiatives under the reform agenda.
The early initiative projects
Supporting education and training system reforms
Victoria currently has a shortage of qualified building surveyors. Surveyors play an essential role in domestic building approvals and inspections. This project is investigating a range of short-term changes to the education and training system that would increase the supply of building surveyors to meet current and future needs. DELWP is working with the Victorian Skills Commissioner and the Victorian Building Authority on implementing improvements to the current system.
Strengthening the role of the State Building Surveyor
This project is exploring options for the State Building Surveyor to play a more direct role in oversight of the building surveying profession. This will help to address some of the problems with the current system, including monitoring performance and compliance and providing advice, guidance and peer review. To achieve this, the role of the State Building Surveyor needs to be redefined so it can be clarified, strengthened and enhanced.
Establishing a centralised building consumer information and support service
This project will establish a single entry point for building consumer information and support. It will provide consumers with centralised access to the information they need to effectively understand and navigate their way through the building sector from start to finish of a building project. The service will work closely with the dispute resolution services, regulatory bodies, and other government entities consumers may need to interact with. Funding has been secured to implement the initial stages of this initiative and recruitment of a project team is now underway.
Supporting improvements in industry compliance
This project will help facilitate building industry compliance with regulatory requirements by providing increased guidance and improved transparency of building inspection activity. It will include changes such as a provision for the Victorian Building Authority to publish guidelines and standard inspection checklists for surveyors and inspectors to use during mandatory inspection stages. It will also utilise existing data resources to assist in improving practitioners’ understanding of non-compliance.
Promoting consumer awareness about building consultants
DELWP is working in collaboration with Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) to deliver this project which aims to provide consumers with accessible information about the role of building consultants, including their participation in disputes over building. The project will be based on an information campaign that will use CAV website and social media platforms to raise consumer awareness about the services building consultants can provide and the limitations of those services.
Expert Panel’s Framework for Reform discussion paper
The Expert Panel’s Framework for Reform discussion paper has now been released and is available for public comment on the Engage Victoria.
The discussion paper sets out possible improvements to Victoria’s building system to improve oversight of building construction, increase accountability for all industry participants and improve the consumer experience. Stakeholders and members of the public are invited to give their views on the options outlined in the discussion paper using the Engage Victoria website.
Primary Review and outcomes
Several recent reviews have highlighted failures in the building regulatory system. These system failures have in part contributed to defective and low-quality buildings becoming an increasingly significant public safety and amenity issue.
Concerns about the regulatory system are supported by a range of observations and recommendations made by the Victorian Ombudsman, Victorian Auditor-General, the Victorian Cladding Taskforce and the Shergold-Weir Building Confidence Report.
The Victorian Government has committed to spending over $600 million to rectify combustible cladding on both public and private buildings and has established Cladding Safety Victoria to deliver this program.
Building Reform Expert Panel
In December 2019, the Government appointed an Expert Panel on Building Reform to lead a comprehensive review of Victoria’s building system.
The Panel members are:
- Anna Cronin - Chair and Commissioner for Better Regulation and Red Tape Commissioner
- Dame Judith Hackitt - Chair of the UK Independent Review of Building regulations and Fire Safety and former Chair of the UK Health and Safety Executive
- Lauren Solomon - CEO of the Consumer Policy Research Centre
- Melanie Fasham - Past President of the Master Builders Association of Victoria and member of the Building Regulations Advisory Committee
- Dr Gerry Ayers - Health and Safety Manager of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (Construction and General Division – Victorian/Tasmanian Branch)
- Professor Ian Bailey AM SC - Founding Chair of the Society of Construction Law Australia and professorial fellow at the Melbourne Law School.
Objectives of the Expert Panel
The Panel will work with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning to provide recommendations to government on a building system that delivers safe, quality buildings with effective consumer protections, through a sustainable construction industry.
The objectives of the review are to provide a strengthened regulatory system that:
- delivers safe, compliant, durable, affordable and sustainable housing and buildings efficiently and effectively
- protects consumers and improve confidence in the industry and its regulators
- supports skilled and experienced practitioners to carry out compliant and safe practices
- provides support to regulators to effectively and efficiently enforce compliance.
Page last updated: 06/08/21