After more than a year since the Grenfell Tower fire in London claimed 72 lives, the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA), has called on Australia’s building ministers to ‘finally implement consistent, nationwide changes’ that are designed to improve safety and further protect people from poor compliance with building regulations.
The AIA is urging the Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF) to adopt a range of recommendations which are aimed at improving compliance with the National Construction Code (NCC) when they meet this week. At their last meeting in April this year, building ministers from the federal, states and territory governments were presented with the findings and recommendations of the Building Confidence report.
The independent report, which was commissioned by the BMF, and conducted by Professor Peter Shergold AC and Ms Bronwyn Weir, identified ‘a range of issues’ with the implementation of the NCC, regarding quality control and assurance, design, accountability, education and training, and auditing and enforcement practices. Further to this, the Building Confidence report noted various inconsistencies between NCC implementation and compliance across the states and territories.
Authors Peter Shergold and Bronwyn Weir provided 24 recommendations aimed at improving NCC compliance and enforcement systems, with intentions of establishing a national best practice model to strengthen its implementation.
AIA’s Acting National President, Richard Kirk, has said the Institute supports the recommendations outlined in Building Confidence and believes they should be adopted by all states and territories to protect the interests of those who own, work, live, or conduct their business in Australian buildings.
“The Grenfell tragedy demonstrated in the starkest and most distressing way the dire, indeed fatal, consequences of not properly regulating and enforcing compliance with the highest standards of building construction,” Mr Kirk said, “we must learn and apply the lessons from Grenfell here for the safety of all Australians.”
Just like any industry, building design and construction is constantly evolving and innovating, both in terms of practices, but also in terms of the materials that are being used. The building and construction industry’s regulatory environment and practitioners who operate within it must keep pace with these changes.
“With the emergence of non-traditional procurement methods, the industry has lost the necessary clarity of responsibility of decision making around materials and building systems,” Mr Kirk stated, “the Shergold-Weir report identified widespread failures regarding compliance, performance requirements and design. It also showed public trust in the industry, especially relating to health and safety, was lacking.”
Currently, the NCC sets the minimum requirements for the design, construction and performance of our buildings and the AIA believes it should ensure all those involved in construction fully understand and comply with the minimum requirements for health and safety in buildings.
A detailed summary of the Shergold-Weir report, along with the impact of the recommendations on the architecture profession prepared by the Institute’s National Policy Manager Leanne Hardwicke can be accessed here.