Design and Building Practitioners Bill not adequate for projects, says AIPM

PM News
December 9, 2019

The Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) has submitted its responses to the draft legislation of the Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2019 and Building Stronger Foundations Discussion Paper, stating it does not extend compliance far enough.

NSW Government’s Better Regulation Division introduced the draft Bill to reform the construction industry. Proposals include improving the quality and compliance of design documentation and strengthening accountability across the design, building and construction sector.

The AIPM acknowledged the reforms are a major step forward in ensuring compliant building work, especially in the wake of recent systematic failures within current building codes, and conduct leading to substandard buildings in the construction industry.

However, it says the Bill limits itself to designers and constructors without adequately covering broader project management and certifier compliance. The draft legislation currently defines practitioner as a ‘design practitioner, principal design practitioner or building practitioner’.

“We need to ensure the Bill has adequate countermeasures that would actively discourage shortcuts that are currently being taken in the building industry,” stated Elizabeth Foley, AIPM chief executive. “There needs to be a commitment to compliance providing adequate coverage of the full design process, and this can’t be achieved by the current definition of ‘practitioner’ in the Bill.”

In its submission, the AIPM called for other practitioners, including project managers and certifiers, to be included in the scope of the Bill to ensure the legislation covers all aspects of the construction process.

Asked if compliance mechanisms of this nature might created demand for the certification of project managers, Foley said, “I think we will see a move towards certified project managers for construction projects, but we need to be careful on what this includes.”

She made a distinction between on-site and client-side project managers. “I believe there will be a move towards needing a certification for on-site construction project managers in the manner of engineering,” she stated.

Certification through competence measures has long been the remit of the AIPM. While the Institute accredits 92 project management courses in the VET and university sector, education alone is often not sufficient for construction projects of this scale.

“We have university graduates coming straight out of classrooms and given tasks they are not experienced in, with no practical building knowledge,” said Foley. “More importantly they do not have the skills or confidence to communicate with trades people and builders alike.”

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