The latest reforms announced in Victoria aim to facilitate understanding and meeting regulatory obligations for small businesses. The reforms are expected to save the sector millions of dollars each year.
Improving Effectiveness Through Regulation
Improving engagement is a big part of the new reforms. A Small Business Regulatory Engagement Charter will be developed to improve the effectiveness of interactions between small businesses and regulators. The Charter will promote best practice as well as more consistent regulatory engagement processes. It will clearly describe what small businesses can expect from regulators as they work to meet their regulatory obligations so that small businesses can understand and comply with regulations more easily.
Improving access to information is another key factor. The reform makes way for a clear path to faster trade accreditation. The development and promotion of clear and timely guidance from regulators will make their licensing and registration requirements clearer to electricians, plumbers and building practitioners.
Employing Tech to Do the Job
Some of the improvements come from the support of digital technologies. Small businesses won’t need to waste time filling in duplicated information on government forms thanks to an online profile tool.
The small business online profile tool is set to simply doing business. This includes improving the management of certificates of compliance and the ongoing development and implementation of e-certification systems. This way small businesses will have an easier time managing their certificates of compliance.
The small business online profile tool will also involve the identification of information that small businesses are commonly asked to provide when complying with regulations. It will also prioritise opportunities for achieving better integration between digital service platforms and record-keeping in order to reduce duplication.
Guidance for the Future
Another major part of the reforms is the improvement of Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS). Enhanced guidance material for SWMS will be developed for small and medium-sized businesses, particularly in the residential housing industry. It will make it easier to understand when an SWMS is required and to what level of detail.
Most businesses in the construction sector are small, and both small and micro businesses are critical to the construction sector in Victoria. The sector includes over 23,000 registered builders, 27,000 registered plumbers and nearly 28,000 registered electrical contractors. The majority of these are sole traders or businesses with fewer than 20 employees.
Regulators also stand to benefit from the reforms as they are expected to encourage better compliance and increased regulatory knowledge among small businesses.
In Talks With the Master
Jobsite ANZ spoke to Master Builders Association Of Victoria CEO, Rebecca Casson.
“The majority of builders in the building and construction industry operate as small businesses,” Casson said. “They are likely to feel the regulatory burden more strongly than larger businesses as they attempt to balance operating an effective business and complying with regulations. This charter should ensure that the needs of these small businesses are kept front of mind when communicating with the industry.
“We also believe that prevention is better than cure. We hope that this charter will generate a renewed focus with regulators on sharing best practice. Thus, we would be able to prevent problems from occurring and further our common goal of increasing standards in the industry.”
Casson went on to talk about the reforms promise of faster trade accreditation.
“In the past, many building practitioners have voiced concern over the degree of paperwork required for the application process for registration for domestic and commercial builders. Concerns were also raised over the complexity associated with the builder registration requirements. Master Builders Victoria have voiced that there are opportunities to reduce such levels of paperwork without sacrificing the stringency of the registration assessments.
“While the VBA has made improvements in simplifying the application process for registration, the overall time required to prepare for registration remains considerable. clear path to faster trade accreditation will hopefully make the registration process simpler while continuing to remain stringent in its assessment,” Cassen said.
“Delays in the approval of planning permits remain a significant issue for builders in Victoria. Process delays are an added cost for builders which ultimately are passed on to the consumer,” Cassen added.
To learn more about the review, go to engage.vic.gov.au/smallbizreview