ACA - Qld/NT update

Mark Williams , 12 July 2017

Education, procurement, contracts, government assets and non-compliant materials are on the agenda for the ACA – Qld/NT.

Recently I visited Darwin for the first time to meet with Steve Huntingford, our ACA – NT representative on the ACA – QLD/NT Committee; Andrew Broffman, Australian Institute of Architects NT Chapter President; and Joshua Morrin, the Institute’s Executive Director in NSW (formerly NT). My visit was to explore the opportunities for the ACA to build support and develop relationships in the far North.

In the meeting with Steve, Andrew and Joshua we discussed the challenges of providing services and support for our members. It quickly became evident that we are facing similar challenges when running membership organisations – engaging with members and the community, maintaining member participation, and providing relevant services.

As part of my trip I attended the 2017 Northern Territory Architecture Awards. I was introduced to Territorian hospitality and humour and my first awards night set in the Botanical Gardens. A warm evening, it was such a contrast to Brisbane – but what a night being entertained and introduced to NT architecture. What was also on display was the camaraderie that comes with the opportunity to gather to celebrate other’s success. Here was a group of people connected by their love of architecture that provides better places for people to experience life.

Camaraderie is the warm feelings of friendship, closeness and loyalty shared among a group of people or a team of people.” Definition from Grammarist

It was Mark Trotter from Fulton Trotter Architects and a past ACA – Qld President who acknowledged the camaraderie that existed among our members. While we are all, in effect, competing against each other at the same time, there can be a positive momentum generated for the profession when we help each other to deliver better architectural services for our clients.


Events are one important way the ACA engages with members. The following are planned for this year:

Risky Business 2017

This event will focus on reviewing architectural services contract conditions and how to negotiate a ‘less risky’ final client services agreement. More details here.

Margaret Cribb Childcare Centre site tour

The built environment becomes the third teacher for the children. To be presented 8 August by dwp.

Non-compliance lunch forum

A panel discussion on 8 September on how to manage non-compliant materials and products – the supplier, the builder, the architect. 

The annual Member Dinner and Trivia Night

A night of fun and friendly rivalry on 21 October. Teams will battle to win the Architectural Deep Knowledge Award!


The ACA QLD/NT has been involved with two initiatives in the last 12 months.


On 20 April 2017, a small group of ACA members were invited to attend an informal meeting with Stephen Bennett, LNP Member for Burnett and the LNP’s Shadow Minister for Environment, Heritage Protection and National Parks. The purpose of the meeting was to foster closer relations between industry groups and the LNP. Discussion included:

  • Government procurement – consideration of more flexible models of procurement for capital projects (fees available do not allow innovation);
  • Government assets – many perform sub-optimally and should be reviewed;
  • Quality of materials is an issue in building – ie, asbestos in materials imported into Australia; and
  • The importance of having a Government Architect.

So far, this year the ACA – QLD/NT committee has continued to engage with architectural education providers to discuss issues relating to the knowledge and experience of graduate architects. On Tuesday 14 March, the QLD/NT Committee met with representatives from the AACA, UQ, QUT Griffith University and the Institute Education and Practice Committees. The agenda included the following:

  • change to the course structure not requiring the work integrated learning;
  • work experience programs;
  • employability of graduates;
  • cost to a practice when students were not productive;
  • bridging the gap; and
  • how can this be addressed to improve the skills of graduate architects.

Each representative contributed to the discussion about education being provided and the accreditation process. A key point that was raised by Ian Hamilton representing the AACA was “The expectations of the students, universities, employer and AACA needs to be clarified”.

In response, the ACA QLD/NT committee plans to survey member practices to identify:

  • what skills and knowledge graduates would like to have had when commencing employment in an office;
  • 3rd year students – what they expect to learn when they work in an office;
  • 4th year students – what skills they had developed after their year out; and
  • what are the expectations of practitioners of their 3rd, 4th year and graduates.

Benefits for members

As a member of the ACA you have access to business tools, such as the Architects’ Time/Cost Calculation Guide, HR Policy templates and benchmarking with the annual Salary Survey, plus formal and informal advice, business news and alerts, awards updates, and notices in relation to legal requirements under the Fair Work Act. I encourage you to use these resources where you can.

Additional to these benefits, you can be connected to other business owners who face similar challenges to you. I can stand testament to this, with my office receiving support and encouragement from other members over the last 10 years. Being connected to the ACA has introduced me to others who I would now call friends and wouldn’t hesitate to help.

In conclusion, for the coming year I would encourage you to connect with other ACA members, whether at an ACA event or just for a coffee one on one to share and discuss the issues you are facing. Encourage one another, share ways to do business better and remember to take the time to celebrate other’s successes. If you have a business need that you think the ACA can help you with, please contact us. You may not be the only one with the issue.

Looking forward to the year ahead.