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Victorian Painters Registration and Licensing

Registration for Painters and Decorators in Victoria

Daniel Wurm | 08 Dec 2019

If you’ve heard about the new laws concerning painters licensing and painters registration in Victoria, but are not sure what it’s all about, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we’ll explain the new painters registration and painters licence requirements in Victoria. If you are a painter in Victoria, or run a painting business in Victoria these changes may apply to you.

Recently, the Victorian Government made some changes to the Building Act 1993. These changes are called the Building Amendment (Registration of Building Trades and Other Matters) Act 2018. The aim is to ensure certain trades have licencing and registration, and was introduced after years of lobbying by the Master Builders Association, the National Painting and Decorating Institute and other associations

In 2015 in Victoria, the National Institute of Painting and Decorating surveyed over 550 members of the painting industry, with support from Aussie Painters Network. The survey responses revealed that:

  • 74% of Victorian painters believed licensing is 'very important'
  • 74% of Victorian painters believed licensing should be limited to qualified painters
  • 85% believed Certificate III Painting and Decorating (or equivalent) should be the minimum qualification
  • 55% believed licensing should be required for any work over $1000
  • 96% believed licensing should be required for companies, and 93% for sole traders
  • 55% believed interstate licenses should be recognised in Victoria
  • The majority believed licensing should cost less than $200 per year

This was the basis of our submission to the Department. In 2018 the legislation passed parliament. In 2019 the government asked for feedback as to which trades should be prioritised. We recommended that painters be prioritised because of the high level of risk of unqualified painters preparing asbestos and lead paint.

Recently, the Department of Environment, Water and Planning released the priority trades. The Minister for Planning has determined that carpentry will be the first scope of work to be considered for regulation, starting in 2021. Remaining scopes of building work performed by trade contractors and employees will be gradually considered over a five-year period in accordance with a staged implementation plan. Registration for Painting and Decorating is scheduled to be implemented from 2022.

What are the benefits of Registration and Licensing of Trades?

The objectives of the new registration and licensing scheme are:

  • there is greater accountability for non-compliant work
  • there is confidence that people who carry out or perform restricted work have adequate qualifications, skills and experience
  • incentives for skills formation in the building industry are improved (including completion of apprenticeships)
  • there is relative consistency between the approach taken to trade contractors and building trade employees so as not to create incentives for the replacement of employees by trade contractors, including the use of ‘sham’ contracting arrangements
  • the incidence of non-compliant building work is reduced
  • builders will not be allowed to contract unqualified and unregistered painters. This means more opportunities for qualified and skilled painters
  • less risk to the public. Qualified painters understand how to identify lead paint and asbestos, and treat it correctly.

Will the Registration Scheme be Enforced?

The VBA launched its Proactive Inspection Program (PIP) in 2015, which involves checking building and plumbing works under construction throughout Victoria. The purpose of PIP is to reduce non-compliant building and plumbing work in Victoria. The VBA monitors and regulates registered building practitioners, and in some cases disciplinary action is undertaken that results in a building practitioner being deregistered.

The show cause process is the VBA's mechanism for holding building practitioners to account for their performance when they fail to meet community expectations. This might be by doing unlawful things or by simply not doing good enough work, or both. The process also allows the VBA to remove building practitioners who are no longer fit and proper persons (that is, they are unsuitable).

The process protects consumers from building malpractice and makes sure building practitioners comply with the Building Act 1993 (the Building Act) and related laws such as the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1985 and the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2002. The show cause process initiates disciplinary action against currently registered practitioners. Breaches of the Building Act and other legislation by people other than registered practitioners are dealt with by criminal prosecution.

See the latest prosecutions

What do I have to do?

Here’s what the government is saying so far.

To be a registered trade in Victoria, you have to submit an application to the Victorian Building Authority (VBA). You need to choose the category of domestic builder – limited (DB-L) registration. It’s not confirmed yet, but it’s also likely that a registered trade will need to have a trade certificate or trade qualification such as Certificate III Painting and Decorating. Currently any painters applying for registration are required to be qualified, and we expect this to continue. The National Painting and Decorating Institute has also recommended to the Department that minimum requirements should also include qualifications in business and estimating, such as in Western Australia.

An options paper will be released for consultation and there will be opportunities for engagement. Further details will be provided shortly.

What will happen after the new scheme is introduced?

A period of one year will be given after the start of the new scheme to apply for provisional registration or a provisional licence (‘the application period’).

• If a person applies during the application period they can continue working until their application is decided.
• The offences inserted into the Building Act will not apply to them during this period.
• If the applicant has the required qualifications, knowledge and/or experience they may also apply for a full registration or a full licence during the application period.

What will happen after the application period?

After the application period expires, new entrants who want to perform painting and decorating work (who haven’t applied for a registration or licence during the application period) will need to have full registration or a full employee licence.

• A provisional registration or a provisional employee licence will not be available.
• The offence provisions within the Building Act will begin.

How long will provisional registration or a provisional licence last?

Provisional registration and provisional licences will last for five years.

During this period (‘the qualification period’), provisional registration holders will need to upgrade to a full registration and employees will need to upgrade from provisional to full employee licences.

A period of one year, after the commencement date for each implementation stage, will be given to apply for provisional registration or a provisional licence. If a person applies during this period they can continue working until their application is decided.

A provisional registration or licence is a stepping stone to upskill to a full registration or licence. Provisionally registered trade contractors and provisionally licensed employees are expected to upgrade to full registration or a full licence within 5 years. After expiration of 5 years, a full registration or licence is required to carry out painting and decorating.

What is the difference between registration and an employee licence?

Both registration and the employee occupational licence give the right to physically perform prescribed work. But registration may also give the right or duty to perform certain business functions – for example, to contract for building work. An employee occupational licence does not relate to performing business related functions. Basically, to be a painting contractor or sub-contractor you will need to be registered. If you are licensed but not registered you will only be able to work as an employee for a contractor.

What about apprentices and trainees?

There will be no offence if prescribed building work is performed by apprentices and trainees, provided the person is employed under a training contract to carry out the prescribed building work. The employer must be approved by the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority to employ that person under the training contract (as per section 5.5.7 of the Education and Training Reform Act 2006).

How Much will It Cost?

The National Painting and Decorating Institute has recommended that registration should cost no more than $200 per year to maintain registration. The government has not released the details on the final cost. We will continue to lobby the government to keep it affordable.

How the National Painting and Decorating Institute can help

The new changes are going to impact trades working as subcontractors who are not registered. The changes may impact your ability to work in your current capacity.

The National Painting and Decorating Institute have dedicated licensing and registration specialists who are here to help. Our staff can give you advice and information on your next steps to getting your licence or registration, so that you can continue working.

Painting and Decorating Certificates

If you are already qualified and hold a trade certificate from completing an apprenticeship, or have completed Certificate III in Painting and Decorating, we recommend waiting until further details are released before doing anything about registration. We have recommended to the government that these qualifications should be recognised for registration purposes.

What does the word 'qualified' mean? It means you have completed a formal course and assessment of your skills and knowledge at a government recognised college. Simply having 'experience' is not enough to be 'qualified'. Painters who are qualified have a certificate from TAFE or a Registered Training Organisation to confirm their competence.

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

If you are not qualified and have less than 4 years experience in the industry we recommend completing an apprenticeship with an employer, so you can learn the trade properly. If you are not qualified but have more than four years experience you can apply for Recognition of Prior Learning to achieve Certificate III in Painting and Decorating. This is a process where you will be tested on your existing skills and knowledge, and given credit for what you are already competent in.

There are usually some subjects that painters need gap training or upskilling in. These subjects usually include wallpapering, colour matching, decorative finishes, and safe lead paint testing and removal. It is very common for even experienced painters to need training in these subjects. The college conducting the RPL assessment must provide you with training in any subjects you need training in before issuing you the qualification. Look at this as an opportunity to learn new skills and perhaps grow your business.

Beware of Dodgy Colleges!

There are some colleges that are advertising RPL Skills Assessments for Certificate III Painting and Decorating to get a 'Victorian Painters Licence'. We urge all painters to be careful about who they enrol with. Always ask the college if they provide training or upskilling in the subjects such as wallpapering or lead paint management. If the college does not, do not enrol! There have been many cases of painters enrolling in RPL courses only to find out that they need gap training and are forced to pay extra to complete, or they fail to complete the course. Only enrol in colleges that have training facilities and assessors based in Victoria who can help you complete the qualification.

The National Painting and Decorating Institute can help you find a college that is recognised by the government for registration purposes and offers quality assistance and training.

More Information

The National Painting and Decorating Institute can keep you up-to-date with everything you need to know about these new laws. We’ll be attending trade nights and visiting paint stores around Victoria over the coming months to keep the industry informed.

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1 | Lance C Futcher


Posted on 30th January 2020, 10:41pm

2 | Kevin connors

Been waiting for this well over 20 years good to see its happening

Posted on 4th February 2020, 8:18pm

3 | Shinwar Hussein

Hi I have done my apprenticeship in painting through master builders for 4 years I have my cert 3 in painting but not sure where to apply for my painting license please help

Posted on 4th August 2020, 7:10pm

4 | Zel

Hi, I just want to start my business in painting...I don't certificate study about painting , I got experience working with someone around 2year. My issues is Can I apply licence without have a certificate course.

Posted on 3rd February 2022, 8:27pm

5 | Jawid

Hi I have got 10 years experience in painting I didn't know to have a licence in painting
can I get my licence?
how to apply for painting licence?
please call me in my number 0402 696471 Thanks jawid

Posted on 23rd September 2023, 6:50am

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