By Bruce Munday.
One of the goals of the DSWAA is ‘That the craft of dry stone walling grows as a modern reinforcement of the contribution that dry stone walls and structures have made to the culture of Australia.
At a recent DSWAA Strategy Day, Geoff Duggan, a Professional member of the DSWAA made the following observation:
Reading the Goals of the Association there is no mention of promoting best practice. I take issue with DSWAA endorsing anyone wishing to call themselves a professional dry stone waller so long as they pay an annual membership fee of $50. This puts the onus back on the client to assess the standard of the waller’s work, when in fact most clients and even some wallers cannot tell the difference between good and poor structural work.
In other countries with similar organisations, listing requires levels of competency demonstrated through structured craftsman certification schemes. The scheme adopted by many countries is that of the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain (DSWA GB). The problem we face in Australia is the familiar tyranny of distance – relatively few wallers a great distance apart.
Having said this I acknowledge that there are good wallers who have not gone through an accreditation process. This could be due to the inconvenience or simply disinterest in the process, recognising that many wallers work only part-time with dry stone.
Overseas experience shows that a certification scheme is a proven way for wallers to demonstrate their skill and to aspire to even higher standards. Equally, it gives potential clients some certainty when looking to commission work from a professional waller.
As the lead body for dry stone walls in Australia this is an issue that DSWAA should seriously consider. The association could ensure credibility and integrity of the craft, as has been done in Canada, USA and France, by taking on the DSWA GB certification scheme or adapting it to local conditions.
This is a subject that DSWAA has discussed previously and would welcome comments from members. Meanwhile, any waller seeking DSWA GB certification should contact Geoff (0409 122 951) and make private arrangements.
Geoff is a Master Craftsman certificate holder appointed as Examiner for the Craftsman Certification Scheme of the DSWA GB