Many professional organisations, including Engineers Australia, maintain codes of ethics with which their members are expected to comply. Amongst other matters, the engineers’ code requires that members stick to their area of competence, ensure that those who pay them are considered to be their client, be responsible for their own negligence (in part by having insurance) and to give credit where credit is due. They are also required to turn down unethical incentive payments, or 'kickbacks'.
Engineers Australia Code of Ethics
The Engineers Australia Code of Ethics in 2010 has four key points summarised below. The Code notes that, if called upon to do so, members are expected to justify any departure from both the provisions and spirit of the Code.
- Demonstrate Integrity: Act on the basis of a well-informed conscience; be honest and trustworthy; respect the dignity of all persons
- Practice Competently: Maintain and develop knowledge and skills; represent areas of competence objectively; act on the basis of adequate knowledge
- Exercise Leadership: Uphold the reputation and trustworthiness of the practice of engineering; support and encourage diversity; communicate honestly and effectively, taking into account the reliance of others on engineering expertise
- Promote Sustainability: Engage responsibly with the community and other stakeholders; practice engineering to foster the health, safety and wellbeing of the community and the environment; balance the needs of the present with the needs of future generations.
Historically, consulting engineers in Australia were bound to this approach. For example, the old Association of Consulting Engineers Australia (ACEA) required that member firms were controlled by directors who were bound by the Code of Ethics. This meant that in the event of a decision between the best interests of the owners and the clients, the clients' interests normally held sway. Members or their firms could be subjected to a disciplinary hearing if they breached the association rules or the Code of Ethics.
The content on this page was primarily sourced from the following:
- Association of Consulting Engineers Australia (1987). Practice Note: C/9. Amendments to ACEA Rules. (The core requirements for membership are contained in Section 8, and Section 17 notes that disciplinary hearings could result from breaches of association rules or the Code of Ethics)
- Engineers Australia (28 July 2010). Our Code of Ethics.
- Robinson Richard M and Gaye E Francis (2019). Engineering Due Diligence (11th Edition). R2A Pty Ltd, Consulting Engineers.