In mid-2017 The Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF) commissioned Professor Peter Shergold and Ms Bronwyn Weir to undertake an assessment of the effectiveness of compliance and enforcement systems for the building and construction industry across Australia.

In late April, the BMF met to review and discuss the final report which provided 24 recommendations to improve building safety and compliance on a national basis.

The recommendations cover a range of issues, from registration and training of practitioners, to the role of fire authorities in building design and the approvals process.

The Report’s conclusions and recommendations provide the BMF with a significant package of reforms intended to strengthen the effective implementation of the National Construction Code (NCC).

The BMF provided in-principle support for the Report. Ministers will examine the Report’s findings and recommendations in detail and have agreed to discuss future directions and next steps at the next BMF meeting

“Our goal is to enhance public trust through effective implementation of building and construction standards that protect the interests of those who own, work, live, or conduct their business in Australian buildings. We make 24 recommendations. We believe that compliance and enforcement systems that incorporate our recommendations represent a national best practice model that will strengthen the effective implementation of the NCC.”

 The full report can be reviewed here


Summary of Recommendations

Recommendations 1 to 4 focus on the registration and training of practitioners.

We recommend a nationally consistent approach to the registration of certain categories of building practitioners and compulsory Continuing Professional Development, which includes mandatory hours/units dedicated to training on the NCC and the establishment of supervised training schemes which provide better defined career paths for building surveyors.

Recommendations 5 to 7 address the roles and responsibilities of regulators.

We recommend a focus on collaboration between state and local government and (where applicable) private building surveyors to improve regulatory oversight. We also recommend the provision of broad powers to audit building work and take effective compliance and enforcement action. We recommend that each jurisdiction implement a proactive audit strategy for regulatory oversight of the Commercial building sector

Recommendation 8 goes to the role of fire authorities in the building design and approvals process.

We recommend that, consistent with the International Fire Engineering Guidelines, jurisdictions require early engagement with fire authorities on designs which include performance solutions on fire safety matters

Recommendations 9 to 11 focus on the integrity of private building surveyors.

We recommend minimum statutory requirements for the engagement, and role, of private building surveyors, a code of conduct with legislative status and enhanced supervisory powers and reporting obligations.

Recommendation 12 addresses the issue of collecting and sharing building information and intelligence.

We recommend the creation of a central database by each jurisdiction and collaboration to develop a platform that can provide for information sharing to inform regulatory activities and the work of the BMF. Information in the databases would also be accessible as appropriate, by authorised persons including owners or purchasers of buildings.

Recommendations 13 to 17 focus on the issues of adequacy of documentation and record keeping.

We recommend that there be a statutory duty on design practitioners to prepare documentation that demonstrates that proposed buildings will comply with the NCC. We recommend a more robust approach to third party review of designs and to the documentation and approval of performance solutions and variations.

Recommendations 18 to 19 emphasise the importance of inspection regimes.

We recommend that jurisdictions require on-site inspections for all building works and that there be greater oversight of the installation and certification of fire safety systems in Commercial buildings.

Recommendation 20 addresses the issue of post-construction information management.

We recommend that for Commercial buildings, a comprehensive digital building manual be created for owners which can be passed on to successive owners. This would include all relevant documents for the ongoing management of the building, such as as-built construction documentation, fire safety system details and maintenance requirements.

Recommendation 21 relates to building product safety.

We recommend that the BMF agrees its position on the establishment of a compulsory product certification system for high-risk building products.

Recommendations 22 to 24 deal with the implementation of the recommendations laid out above.

We recommend commitment to a three year timetable for the implementation of the recommendations. We recommend that the BMF establish a plan for implementation which is reported against by each jurisdiction annually. We also recommend that, to deal with the issue of differing terminology across jurisdictions, the BMF develops a national dictionary of terminology.