Review of the NSCA Project – Progress update as at mid November 2020

Stage 4 of the Review is progressing well and is close to completion. The Expert Reference Group (ERG) continues to guide the direction of the review, whilst further expertise from outside of the AACA is engaged to inform the detailed re-drafting. The process has been iterative, with continual reference back to the ERG’s early agreed direction and the key themes from the first round of feedback on the Issues Paper.

Inputs and considerations during this current stage of work have included:

  • A review of the regulatory and legislative framework impacting federally and all states and territories
  • A review of the terminology and analysis of the material differences in content in relation to stages of architectural services and key industry reference documents
  • Consultation with subject matter experts familiar with all of the AACA assessment programs
  • Consultation with nominees from AIA’s First Nation’s Advisory Group
  • Consultation with nominees from AIA’s Climate Action Taskforce Advisory Group
  • Editorial review for consistency.

The Issues Paper released in June 2020 noted five key recommendations. All Recommendations received general support from the majority of submissions received (many submissions noting that support was dependent on seeing the final details of the proposed changes). An update on plans to address those recommendations is noted in the table below.

Recommendations noted in the Issues Paper, 1 June 2020

Current plans to progress these recommendations in the revised NSCA

Recommendation 1. Conceive the NSCA as a Framework of Professional Competency viewed through specified Professional Capabilities.

This recommendation continues to be progressed. The structure and coverage of the Professional Capabilities influence the re-worded Performance Criteria. The Professional Capabilities are being developed in a manner that will allow their inclusion in all AACA Assessment Programs.

Recommendation 2. Retain four units of competency with a refocus on the architect’s primary responsibilities in design and in design project delivery.

This recommendation continues to be progressed, with a focus on grouping the Performance Criteria specific to each area of focus within the units.

Recommendation 3. Revise Performance Criteria to reduce repetition – focussing less on the linear project phases and more on the core component of professional obligations of the architect in relation to design services to clients; acknowledging that the functional aspects of these obligations may apply differently across projects depending upon the project type, scale and context of risk and liabilities.

This recommendation continues to be progressed though the extent of the level of reduction in the number of Performance Criteria.

Recommendation 4. Remove Elements, the current subgrouping of Performance Criteria under the four units of competency, in order to reduce linearity and repetition in the NSCA


Recommendation 5. Review language and organisation of the Performance Criteria in order to improve user understanding of how Performance Criteria are applied at differing levels across the contexts of the competency profiles of the Architectural Graduate, the Architectural Graduate at Registration and the Registered Architect.

This recommendation continues to be progressed. Performance Criteria linked to the Architectural Graduate and the Architectural Graduate at Registration will underpin the basis of AACA Assessment Programs. Use of the Performance Criteria linked to the Profile of the Architect post registration may be used to inform Boards’ regulatory functions.  


The Project Timeframes have been reviewed. The current Stage has been extended to support the broad consultation that has occurred, as well as the iterative process of review and refinement.

Work is underway to commence the next stage in early December, with the release of the revised draft of the Standard and the draft implementation strategy. The consultation stage will remain open until the end of February.

All important details, including the revised project timeframes, can be found on the 2020 Review of the NSCA webpage here.

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