The Victorian chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) has called for greater action on non-complaint cladding after the release of the Victorian Cladding Taskforce’s interim report.

“We are calling for greater regulation and the registration of all building practitioners in Victoria to address the danger to our community posed by the de-professionalisation of building procurement over many years now,” says Victorian chapter president Vanessa Bird.

“The problem of widespread non-compliant cladding can be attributed to three factors: the supply and marketing of inappropriate building materials, a poor culture of compliance in the industry, and the failure of the regulatory system to deal with these issues.”

“While auditing and rectification of existing non-compliance is important, immediate change is required to protect public safety in the future and remedy a poor culture of compliance in the industry,” says Bird.

“We are calling for all practitioners in the construction industry to hold registration with either the Architect Registration Board Victoria, Building Practitioners Board or the Victorian Building Authority,” she says, and adding, that “ensuring public safety in the built environment is the chief priority of the architectural profession.”

As part of the Stakeholder Reference Group, the AIA helped to identify the “substitution of non-compliant products between the approval phase and the construction phase” and “inadequate on-site inspection, supervision and quality assurance’ as being significant contributing issues.”

“We want to see compliance and enforcement mechanisms strengthened across jurisdictions to properly protect all Australians in their homes, workplaces and in our public spaces. Cutting red tape cannot and should not come at the expense of people’s safety,” says Bird.

Insofar as the Victorian Cladding Taskforce's 26 overarching recommendations are concerned, perhaps the most crucial one is where the state planning minister will have the authority to prevent the use of aluminium composite panels (ACP) with a polyethylene core and expanded polystyrene (EPS) cladding, for class 2, 3, or 9 buildings of two or more storeys, and class 5, 6, 7 or 8 buildings of three or more storeys.