Defence confirms support for engineers to become RPEng accredited through Professionals Australia
Difference of legal opinion on state law impacts
3 June 2020
Defence has released advice to employees encouraging engineers to aspire to become accredited with peak body organisations. But what does this all mean?
Professionals Australia will be holding info sessions in each state (remotely). Register your interest here (you may need to register using a personal device) and we’ll send you an invite once they’re scheduled. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DefRPEng
The registration of engineers in Defence
There’s been a lot of discussion about engineer registration in the profession lately.
Professional engineers deserve to be recognised for your qualifications, hard work and commitment to ethical practice; for your contribution to the community and nation.
One of the ways of being assessed and achieving accreditation is through the Registered Professional Engineer (RPEng) of Professionals Australia program. You’ll achieve a mark of professionalism which defines professional engineers as distinct from technologists, associates, para-professionals, and the unqualified.
At the moment, legislation exists requiring any professional engineering services in Queensland (or for a Queensland-based project) be carried out by an engineer registered with the Queensland Board of Professional Engineers (BPEQ). Similar legislation will be in operation in Victoria next year, the introduction of legislation is being debated in NSW Parliament this week, and the ACT Government are designing their scheme now.
This legislation exists to ensure that engineering works are conducted to the highest standards of safety by competent, registered professionals. Being assessed and achieving RPEng accreditation is the step required before you apply for registration with BPEQ (and their equivalent in Victoria).
You may not know it yet, but Defence recognises and supports engineers to achieve RPEng accreditation
In DEFGRAM 213/2020, Defence outlines the department’s support for engineers to attain RPEng status:
Defence sees the merit in increasing professional engineering capability through accreditation with peak body organisations which recognises the competency of engineering and technical officers via the award of Chartered/Certification Status and/or Registered Professional Engineer Status. Chartered Professional Engineer Status or Registered Professional Engineer Status stands for the highest standard of professionalism, up-to-date expertise, quality and safety, and for the capacity to undertake independent practice and exercise leadership within the engineering team. As well as competence, it denotes a commitment to keep pace with advancing knowledge and with the increasing expectations and requirements for which any professional must take public responsibility. Chartered Professional Engineer Status or Registered Professional Engineer Status should be the aspiration of all engineering and technical officers engaged in engineering activities.
You can find out how to access reimbursement for RPEng accreditation on the CASG Professionalisation section of the intranet under Engineering & Technical Function – Certification and Peak Bodies.
What do I have to do to become RPEng accredited?
You can be assessed to gain RPEng accreditation with Professionals Australia if you hold a degree in line with the Washington Accord, hold 5 years post-graduation experience and can demonstrate you’ve conducted 150 hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) over 5 years. Our RPEng portal and officials are available to assist you to meet the requirements. You can find answers to some of the likely burning questions here: RPEng of Professionals Australia
What is BPEQ registration?
BPEQ accreditation is afforded to engineers who complete registration with the Queensland Board of Professional Engineers (BPEQ).
At the moment, legislation exists requiring any professional engineering services in Queensland (or for a Queensland-based project) be carried out by an engineer registered with the Queensland Board of Professional Engineers (BPEQ). Similar legislation will be in force in Victoria next year, legislation passed NSW parliament overnight and the ACT to follow suit soon.
This legislation exists to ensure that engineering works are conducted to the highest standards of safety buy competent, registered professionals.
RPEng is Professional Australia’s gateway for an engineer to become registered with their state Board of Professional Engineers. Registration with the state board (in applicable states) is required to be able to perform engineering services in or for that state.
The journey towards registration is a 4 stage process for an engineer, involving graduate qualification, building professional competency and experience, assessment by an approved assessment body (ie Professionals Australia’s RPEng) and finally, registration with the state Board of Professional Engineers.
Professionals Australia became an approved assessment entity and established our RPEng program to give degree-qualified engineers an affordable and practical alternative to other accreditation programs. As an assessment entity, Professionals Australia has the highest professional standards.
Wait, doesn’t Defence say that registration is not applicable?
In DEFGRAM 213/2020, Defence outlines the department’s support for engineers to attain RPEng status to demonstrate competence and denote a commitment to keep pace with advancing knowledge and with the increasing expectations and requirements for which any professional must take public responsibility.
In this DEFGRAM Defence outline their view that Defence employed engineers are exempt from the final step in the registration journey; the obligation to register with the state Board of Professional Engineers in order to provide engineering services.
This is a view which is not shared by Professionals Australia or the Board of Professional Engineers of Queensland. Professionals Australia’s independent legal advice, and the advice of BPEQ to our members, is that engineers employed by the Department of Defence are not exempt from the requirement to hold registration with BEPQ in order to deliver engineering services in or for Queensland. Our legal advice applies equally to the Victorian regulations coming into force next year.
So, Defence’s view is at odds with Professionals Australia’s. What should I do?
Professionals Australia’s legal position is that Defence does not have the power to grant engineers exemptions from being bound by state laws. Defence’s advice in DEFGRAM 213/2020 that APS engineers do not need to register as professional engineers in Queensland or Victoria is their legal view.
The legislation in Queensland and Victoria hold individual engineers (not employers) responsible for complying with the requirement to be registered. If Defence employed engineers provide engineering services in or to states where a compulsory registration scheme exists, our advice is that there is the potential risk of being exposed to investigation and/or action by the regulator.
Our advice to members is: Don’t take that risk.
Defence provide financial support for engineers via the department’s Engineering Certification Program. Engineers should take that opportunity and aspire to become registered, regardless of whether Defence have a view that it is not legally necessary.
Undoubtedly there will be more questions as this matter makes its way out into the workforce in discussions between colleagues. Your state PA officials will be convening meetings with members over video and teleconference to take all of your questions.
Register your interest here and we’ll send you an invite once they’re scheduled (you may need to register using a personal device https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DefRPEng
If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact your state representative.
ACT // Dale Beasley // firstname.lastname@example.org
QLD // Thomas Whibley // email@example.com
NSW // Adrian Catt // firstname.lastname@example.org
SA // Kimberley Rowney // email@example.com
VIC // Emma Parkinson // firstname.lastname@example.org
WA // Tamarah Rowlands // TRowlands@professionalsaustralia.org.au