As Bob Dylan once taught us “the times they are a changing”. Nowhere more so perhaps than in our sister profession of engineering. In the wake of well reported problems with the construction of some buildings, there has been a renewed interest in professionalism. Queensland has long had mandatory regulation and registration for engineers and Victoria is now introducing a similar approach. Other Governments are said to be considering this as well.
Despite a number of well-publicised project failures, ICT is not yet being considered for regulation or registration along the lines of the engineering profession, although who knows what may happen in the future, particularly in the area of cyber security. This doesn’t make professionalism any less important in our discipline and within the last year, ACS has obtained approval for a redesigned Professional Standards Scheme to include all Certified Professional (CP) members. Governments throughout Australia collectively appoint a body called the Professional Standards Council (PSC), which regulates ACS to ensure we maintain professional standards for CPs.
As part of this process, ACS has to make sure CPs adhere to a standard of ethics, record their professional development, and have insurance for consumer protection. This scheme means that CP members have recognition from all Governments in Australia, at federal, state or territory level and limits liability for them. We are also in good company with accountants, lawyers and other professionals being recognised under the same scheme.
Having gone to all this effort to enshrine and recognise professionalism in our society, it is important to ensure that we make similar efforts to enshrine and recognise professionalism in our new governance framework. We are, after all, Australia’s society of ICT professionals.
I have been a member of ACS for a number of years and have actively participated as President, Vice President and Treasurer in the current governance structure. Prior to this, I participated for a short period in the previous governance structure. From personal experience, I can confirm that our current structure has served us well, but we have grown very significantly in both members and financial capacity since it was brought in and we have now outgrown it.
It is worth remembering that when our current governance documents were developed, CPs were only just being introduced and there is not even a mention of them in the current rules. As the President and others have already written, it is time for us to change to a structure that reflects the modern professional society that we are.
Because I am the Vice President (Membership), I have a particular focus on professionalism and professional standards. It is an interesting quirk of our current constitutional arrangements that the Vice President (Communities) looks after membership and the Vice President (Membership) looks after professional standards and accreditation! All this will change with the new constitution.
This focus on professional members has meant that I have been a strong proponent of enshrining the notion of a professional member in the new governance framework. Our current rules are the equivalent of a company constitution within ACS’s present structure as an incorporated association. They make only passing reference to a professional division. You will see, however, that in our proposed new constitution, there is a much more explicit description of the professional division including mention of our professional grades of Fellow, Senior Member and Member. It is also worth emphasising that these current professional grades will, of course, remain unchanged in the transition to the new governance arrangements.
I am very pleased that congress unanimously approved this more extensive definition of professionals in the proposed new constitution and also agreed that only ICT professionals can be elected to the board or to divisional councils. This makes it very clear that we are indeed a society for ICT professionals governed by ICT professionals.
I believe that the changes we are making, both in our recognition under the Professional Standards Scheme and in enshrining professionalism more solidly in our governance framework, ensure that we can confidently say that we are the Association for ICT professionals in Australia.
Vice President (Membership)