Engineers Australia promotes member perspectives in finding solutions to the big questions facing Australia, write EA President Trish White and CEO Peter McIntyre.
Whether in terms of infrastructure, energy, technology or industry, governments make decisions today that will have far-reaching effects in the future.
At Engineers Australia, we know from our research that members want us to be active in the policy space and to have the engineering perspective heard.
For this reason, we are focusing our efforts on influencing policy in priority areas, both behind the scenes and in the media.
Without Engineers Australia, governments would be informed by economists and lawyers, and lack the perspectives of the professionals who turn ideas into reality: engineers. We are part of the national debate on the big challenges governments prepare for and respond to – issues such as energy.
In relation to the National Energy Guarantee, Engineers Australia believes it is crucial that policy should be informed by technical experts and not dictated by political opportunism – a point we made strongly in the opinion section of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times, following our submission to government.
As a member of the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council, we have also been part of a recent campaign to upgrade energy standards in the National Construction Code to prepare for a zero-carbon future; the market alone will not deliver improvements at the rate and scale required.
Engineers Australia is now regularly featured in mainstream media and our perspective is increasingly sought.
There was extensive media coverage of the Australian Capital Territory’s (ACT) appointment of its first Chief Engineer, the culmination of a long campaign led by Engineers Australia in conjunction with Consult Australia and Professionals Australia.
The ACT joins Victoria in having an official Chief Engineer, helping governments bring engineering to the fore across all portfolios.
Now more than ever, Engineers Australia is asked for expert input. Recently, the Department of Defence requested our input on their future STEM skills requirements planning, demonstrating we are seen as the voice of the profession.
The professionalism of engineers is recognised through our ability to sign statutory declarations, and we have strongly advocated to retain this power unchanged in a recent review.
However, unlike many countries, the term ‘engineer’ does not have statutory protection in Australia. Here, most engineers do not need to be registered, unlike lawyers and doctors.
Engineers Australia favours mandatory registration, and welcomes the increasing government support.
The burden of compliance is not heavy compared to the benefits, both for public safety and increasing the recognition and status of engineers – reflecting the vital role engineers play in delivering safe and sustainable solutions.
To inform our advocacy, Engineers Australia harnesses the expertise of our members, consulting with colleges and technical societies.
We encourage members who would like to have a say on their area of interest to join and play an active part in our colleges and technical groups.