Accredited professionals scheme

The Accredited Professionals Scheme enhances the decision-making in the planning system and gives applicants greater confidence in the way that their development applications are assessed.

Any decision-maker in the planning system who is involved in assessing development applications can apply to become accredited under the new scheme.

About the scheme

The Accredited Professionals Scheme provides reliability, flexibility and accountability of decision-makers in the planning system. The scheme gives development applicants greater confidence in the way their submissions are assessed.

The Accredited Professionals Scheme began on 1 April 2019. All planning and building professionals can apply to become accredited.

Under the scheme, planning and building professionals who assess development applications must maintain minimum standards of professional practice and produce evidence that they are sufficiently qualified to make key decisions at certain levels.

Applicants for accreditation must lodge their application accompanied by evidence that supports their eligibility to become accredited in the class that they request.

The Chief Executive of the Attorney-General's Department (the Department), is the Accreditation Authority and offers accreditation for planning and building professionals.

Once accredited, they are registered in a central database managed by the Department.

All Accredited Professionals must:

  • hold professional indemnity insurance
  • comply with an Accredited Professionals code of conduct
  • participate in annual compliance checks
  • complete specified units of continuing professional development.

The Accredited Professionals Scheme is part of the new planning system created under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016.

Land surveyors, planning and building professionals can apply for accreditation now.

Council building officers

Under the Accredited Professionals Scheme, all building professionals who are involved in assessing development applications will now need to be accredited. There are four classes of building accreditation applicable to building professionals under the Scheme, each with different levels of decision making power.

Council planning officers

Existing council planning officers may not need to be accredited at all if they are operating under the delegation of an assessment manager, who will be accredited at Accredited Professional Level 1. However, some assessment managers may want their council planning officers to be independently accredited at Planning Level 3 or 4 (this will be at the discretion of the assessment manager).

Assessment managers and assessment panel members

All Assessment Managers and Assessment Panel Members are required to be accredited from 19 March 2021. However, there are some exceptions, see below.

Private certifiers

All Private Certifiers should now have accreditation under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016.

The following groups will not require accreditation:

  • elected members or former elected members who sit on a Council or Joint Planning Board assessment panel [1]
  • planning professionals who are assessing development applications under delegation for an Assessment Manager or Assessment Panel at a council
  • planning professionals who are not acting as relevant authority for planning consent
  • building professionals who are not acting as relevant authority for building consent
  • surveyors who are not acting as relevant authorities for land division applications seeking planning consent.

[1] Council and Joint Planning Board assessment panels can include an elected member or former elected members who are not accredited professionals. The council needs to be satisfied that a person is appropriately qualified to act as a member of the assessment panel based on the person's experience in local government.

To become an Accredited Professional, practitioners will need to be accredited by the Chief Executive of the Attorney-General's Department (the Department), known as the Accreditation Authority.

An application for accreditation will need to be lodged and accompanied by evidence that supports practitioners’ eligibility to become accredited at the level that they request. Eligibility criteria is set out in the Accreditation Authority’s Qualifications, Skills & Experience Requirements (PDF, 370 KB) and Guide to the Accredited Professionals Scheme (PDF, 423 KB).

Apply to become accredited here.

Evaluation of applications

All applications for accreditation under the Scheme will be evaluated by either the Department or a selected service provider on behalf of the Department. However, only the Chief Executive of the Department will have the authority to officially offer accreditation to applicants.

Recognition of equivalent schemes

Under the Accredited Professionals Scheme Regulations, those practitioners who are registered members of a professional body under a recognised equivalent scheme may receive streamlined accreditation at a reduced fee. They must still apply for accreditation but their existing membership may be taken as evidence that they meet the requirements of the accreditation class in which they wish to operate.

More information about Equivalent Schemes can be found in the Guide to the Accredited Professionals Scheme (PDF, 423 KB).

Update to Recognised Equivalent Schemes for Building Professionals

As of 15 October 2021, the Australian Institute of Building Surveyors (AIBS) categories of membership are no longer recognised as an equivalent scheme pathway for building professionals looking to obtain accreditation under the Accredited Professionals Scheme (APS).

What does this mean?

New applicants applying to be registered as accredited building professionals will need to meet a recognised pathway outlined in Accreditation Authority’s Qualifications, Skills & Experience Requirements (PDF, 370 KB) and Guide to the Accredited Professionals Scheme (PDF, 423 KB).

Accredited professionals who hold a current existing accreditation or have applied for accreditation prior to 15 October 2021 using their AIBS membership as an equivalent pathway, will not be affected provided they maintain their level of accreditation under the APS.

However, if an Accredited Professional under the APS scheme surrenders their accreditation or allows their accreditation to cease or expire, they will be required to re-apply and meet the requirements set out in the documents referred to above if they wish to regain accreditation under the APS.

For enquiries in relation to this update, please contact DIT.APSQueries@sa.gov.au.

Mutual Recognition

If you hold accreditation in another state or territory in Australia and wish to apply for recognition under the Mutual Recognition Act 1992, you will need to provide documentary evidence of the accreditation held in another state or territory.

The Mutual Recognition Act 1992 entitles a person who is registered in a state or territory other than South Australia for an occupation equivalent to a category of accreditation regulated by the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 to apply for recognition of the person’s interstate registration, to carry out that occupation in South Australia.

Automatic Mutual Recognition

A new scheme to automatically recognise interstate licences and registrations will make it easier for workers to take up job opportunities across most of Australia. Building professionals will be able to use their current licence/registration without having to apply and pay for a new one when working interstate.

Automatic Mutual Recognition (AMR) will progressively roll out across the participating occupations, states and territories. The commencement date for SA is yet to be confirmed.

More information about AMR can be found here.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

Regulation 17(1)(a) requires accredited professionals to hold a policy for Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) that is reasonable and adequate taking into account the amount and nature of work undertaken by the accredited professional unless a Regulation 17(2) exemption applies. The accreditation authority has determined that the minimum levels of insurance considered reasonable and adequate are:

  • Accredited Professional – Building level 1 - $5,000,000;
  • Accredited Professional – Building level 2 - $2,000,000;
  • Accredited Professional – Building level 3 - $1,000,000; and
  • Accredited Professional – Building level 4 - $1,000,000

The onus is on each individual accredited professional to assess their own circumstances and ensure that their level of PII cover is adequate taking into account the nature and amount of work undertaken or you may be liable for claims above the level of your insurance cover.

Conditions of accreditation

As an ongoing condition of accreditation under the Scheme, practitioners will be expected to demonstrate that they have maintained suitable skills, knowledge and qualifications by undertaking continuous professional development; be required to maintain an appropriate level of insurance; comply with the Accredited Professionals Scheme Code of Conduct (PDF, 517 KB) and notify the Chief Executive of the Department of any change to their professional circumstances.

There will be several classes of accreditation available under the Scheme and each will require a different level of qualification, skill and experience. The accreditation classes are not dissimilar to the accreditation levels identified by the Planning Institute of Australia, the Australian Institute of Building Surveyors, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute

Planning professionals and surveys

There are four classes of planning accreditation available as well as a class for surveyors under the Scheme. Each class requires different qualifications, skills  and experience (PDF, 370 KB), and each level is able to assess different types of proposals.

Accreditation Class

Approved Activities

Planning Level 1

Assessment Manager

  • Assess 'deemed-to-satisfy' developments
  • Includes the assessment of one or more minor variations to the deemed-to-satisfy criteria
  • Assess 'performance-assessed' developments not assigned to Assessment Panels
  • Assess and approve land division consent, including community titles and strata titles*

Planning Level 2

Assessment Panel Member

  • Assess 'performance-assessed' development applications that are publicly notified

Planning Level 3

Accredited Professional

  • Assess 'deemed-to-satisfy' developments
  • Includes the assessment of one or more minor variations to the deemed-to-satisfy criteria

Planning Level 4

Accredited Professional

  • Assess 'deemed-to-satisfy' developments
  • Excludes the assessment of one or more minor variations to the deemed-to-satisfy criteria

Surveyor

Accredited Professional

  • Assess 'deemed-to-satisfy' land divisions (planning consent only)

*All approved activities are subject to the Planning, Development and Infrastructure (General) (Development Assessment) Variation Regulations 2019

Building professionals

There are four classes of building accreditation available. Each class requires different qualifications, skills and experience, and each class is able to assess different types of proposals.

Becoming accredited at Building Level 2 also includes Building Level 3 and Building Level 4 accreditation. This is the only higher level accreditation that includes accreditation at the lower levels.

Accreditation Level

Approved Activities

Building Level 1

Building Surveyor

  • Assess against the Building Rules and provide building consent, with no limitations
  • Undertake building inspections on behalf of a council
  • Provide planning consent to 'Residential Code equivalent’* development applications, to be determined by the Minister

Building Level 2

Building Surveyor Limited

  • Assess against the Building Rules and provide building consent, limited to buildings that are no more than three storeys in height or have a floor area of no more than 2,000m2
  • Undertake building inspections (for buildings they are accredited to assess) on behalf of council
  • Includes Building Level 3 and Building Level 4 accreditation

Building Level 3

Assistant Building Surveyor

  • Assess against the Building Rules and provide building consent, limited to Class 1 and Class 10 buildings that are no more than two storeys in height or have a floor area of no more than 500m2
  • Undertake building inspections (for buildings they are accredited to assess) on behalf of council

Building Level 4

Building Inspector

  • Carry out inspections as provided for under the practice direction on inspection policies

* All approved activities are subject to the Planning, Development and Infrastructure (General) (Development Assessment) Variation Regulations 2019

The accreditation scheme was introduced in April 2019 to recognise the professional expertise of planning practitioners in the important decisions that they make. The Planning Level 1 role is important in providing advice to Assessment Panels and decision making in their own right.

In order to obtain accreditation at Planning Level 1 a prospective accredited professional must demonstrate peer reviewed compliance (in accordance with a process established by the Accreditation Authority) with the (5) core competencies as set out in the Accreditation Authority's Qualifications, Skills & Experience Requirements for Accredited Professionals (PDF, 370 KB):

  1. Professionalism and integrity
  2. Interpreting and using spatial thinking
  3. Communicating and engaging with stakeholders
  4. Understanding and working with planning frameworks
  5. Using a creative and integrative approach.

The APS Core Competency Assessment Course is available through an online platform to complete these requirements. On application Accredited Professionals will receive access to all course material through the online platform including handbooks and guidebooks.

Prospective Accredited Professionals are required to complete one assessment in each competency area and submit them within quarterly marking windows. Marking windows close on the first Friday in February, May, August and November.

Successful applicants will receive their certificate of completion from the Accreditation Authority which can be used to demonstrate achievement.

If you are a current member of an equivalent scheme recognised by the Accreditation Authority please contact your membership provider prior to determine if alternative peer reviewed compliance with the (5) core competencies is offered as part of your membership.

For more information about the course and how to apply please contact DIT.APSQueries@sa.gov.au.

The Accredited Professionals Scheme will help to facilitate the following:

  • Better decision making
    The Scheme will ensure that planning and building professionals are suitably qualified and experienced to assess development applications and that they adhere to relevant planning requirements and a strict code of conduct.
  • Improved recognition of professionals
    The Scheme will publicly recognise the skills and experience of planning and building professionals and the value they bring to the decision-making process.
  • Faster processing for applicants
    Development applicants will have the choice to engage accredited professionals in the public or private sectors, resulting in faster and more responsive turnaround times on applications.
  • Better management of complaints
    The Scheme will provide a clear auditing and compliance process to ensure that all decisions are transparent and that issues and complaints can be investigated swiftly and fairly.
  • Centralised public register for all accredited professionals
    All Accredited Professionals will be registered on a central directory on the PlanSA website, making it easier for users to access up-to-date information on all planning and building decision-makers, including their areas of expertise.

There are a number of significant benefits to becoming accredited as a decision-maker in South Australia’s planning system:

  • As an Accredited Professional, your skills and experience in the development assessment process will be formally recognised and the importance of your role in the planning and development profession will be elevated sector-wide.
  • You will also be part of a high-profile community of practice that leads the nation in professional standards and conduct and values ongoing professional development.
  • Accredited professionals will also benefit from applicants having greater confidence in the development assessment process and the people who administer it through enhanced accountability and flexibility.
  • Importantly, clearer auditing and compliance processes will be available to all accredited professionals to ensure that all issues and complaints are investigated swiftly and fairly and practitioners can continue to do their work without unwarranted or prolonged disruption.

The accredited professionals register shows planning and building professionals who are accredited under the Accredited Professionals Scheme.

Documents

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