A message from the CEO - December 2019

Melbourne skyline with crane

As 2019 draws to a close, we’re about to tick over not just another year, but another decade.

And it’s safe to say that this has been a decade that has given the building and plumbing industry plenty to reflect on.

Over the past ten years, we have witnessed major changes in the industry, with the widespread adoption of new building materials, modernised regulations, innovation in construction methods and, not least, the creation of the Victorian Building Authority through the merger of the former Building and Plumbing Industry Commissions.

I think we are all well aware that the road behind us has been far from smooth.

In the past decade, we saw a hungry market that drove an unprecedented construction boom, particularly in apartments.

But while the boom initially looked positive for the industry, it also delivered unacceptable increases in building defects and non-compliant work, which, coupled with regulatory failures, clearly had a major impact on public safety, the industry and reputations.

Where we find ourselves now is with a raft of questions still being asked about industry culture, best practice and, of course, combustible cladding. Given the market nervousness, there is now concern regarding the availability of professional indemnity insurance for surveyors and engineers.

Industry has sought a nationally consistent implementation of all of the recommendations of the 2018 Building Confidence report to restore confidence in the building industry and develop a stronger building and construction sector.

We are pleased this has been agreed to by Building Ministers across Australia.

As a member of the Australian Building Codes Board, it has been pleasing for me to witness first-hand the team’s extensive work so far in the implementation of priority reforms. These reforms, with political support, will soon be part of the work we do every day at the VBA.

We’re making progress, but there is plenty more to be done, and we will continue into 2020 and beyond to build and sustain a better Victorian industry.

But as we pause to reflect, we should also recognise the many positive milestones of the past ten years.

Certainly, one major step forward came out of the horrific Black Saturday bushfires of February 2009 and was the turning point in national bushfire preparedness, with Victoria now leading the nation in the adoption of some of the most stringent fire regulations in the world.

2011 saw the Building Code of Australia and the Plumbing Code of Australia consolidated appropriately into the National Construction Code. And the formation of the VBA on 1 July 2013 took two separate but interdependent parts of the building industry and made them one.

This edition of VBA Mail examines the past, present and future of building in Victoria.

The VBA and the industry have faced many challenges and considerable change throughout these past ten years. We at the VBA have learnt much and we will continue into the new decade with the same determined resolution to protect public safety.

We know next year, and perhaps the new decade, will be another challenging time for all of us in this critical industry, with more legislative changes and reforms scheduled to roll out from 2020.

As the clock strikes midnight on 31 December 2019, the New Year and new decade will usher in a new era for the VBA.

On 31 January 2020, we will bid farewell to Dr Owen Donald, our Chief Commissioner, who is leaving the VBA when his term expires.

Dr Donald has steered the VBA through a period of enormous transformation, leading the VBA from a passive regulator to one that has put public safety at the very heart of all decisions. Under his leadership, we are confident the VBA has adapted to a changing environment and that we are on the right path, one that will see us increase our commitment to doing more to restore the confidence of Victorians in the quality, safety and durability of their buildings.

I want to thank you all for your open engagement, collaboration and preparedness to adapt during 2019 and I look forward to seeing you all in 2020. The New Year marks the start of a new decade and a new opportunity for us all to leave the industry in a better place when the clock ticks over to 2030.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a safe and happy festive season and hope you all enjoy the precious time spent with your loved ones and friends.

Take care,

Sue Eddy

Chief Executive Officer
Victorian Building Authority

In this edition