At their November 2020 meeting, Building Ministers declared that they would release the National Model Code of Conduct for Building Surveyors. The code addresses 10 recommendations of the Building Confidence Report (BCR), which conveyed the need for defined standards of behaviour throughout jurisdictions for building surveyors with state-based responsibilities.
The Model Code outlines a regulated basis for the education, audit and compliance roles assumed by regulators. It can help building surveyors to adhere to their requirements, and handle others’ expectations.
The communique regarding this matter from the Building Ministers’ Meeting is available on the Department of Industry website.
A draft of the Model Code was presented for public consultation earlier in 2020, which consisted of 25 obligations. The result of the public consultation displayed the requirement for the obligations to be explained and re-grouped to clarify and negate duplicated efforts. This led to the inclusion of 16 obligations of conduct stated in the finalised Model Code.
These obligations are placed into four categories:
- Follow the law and respect the public interest
- Honesty and integrity, and
- Transparency and accountability.
Among the obligations is the mandate that a building surveyor must not commit to roles where they are called upon to certify work where they have helped in the development of by way of the provision of advice. The public expressed worries about this obligation throughout the consulting process as not every region has sufficient registered building surveyors to adhere to this obligation. Yet the mandate that registered building surveyors should not certify or approve their own labour is in keeping with the independent character of statutory functions and the integrity of building surveyors related in BCR recommendations 9, 10 and 11 and has remained in the Model Code.
A compliance policy attached to the Model Code suggests actions for jurisdictions to facilitate compliance, recommended tools to aid this compliance, and an audit to confirm compliance. The disciplinary advisements rely on the level of the non-compliance; including enhanced training and supervision for unintended non-compliance with minimal consequences, to de-registration, fines and suspension for intentional non-compliance with severe repercussions.
The compliance policy recommends a chance for building surveyors charged and sanctioned with non-compliance to seek out administrative or judicial review. Yet a building surveyor should be barred from practice while waiting for judicial review if they’re in line for a serious administrative penalty like de-registration or suspension.
The Model Code is downloadable from the Australian Building Code Board’s Resource Library. Practitioners should know that the Code is a model, and lacks force prior to adoption by jurisdictions. Contact your state or territory building administration for info regarding how standards of conduct are applicable in your state or territory.