ACA Reflect RAP Endorsed by Reconciliation Australia

Emma Brain , 22 August 2023

The ACA is immensely proud to announce that our first Reconciliation Action Plan has been endorsed by Reconciliation Australia. Our RAP sets out a vision for a more equitable profession and places reconciliation at the heart of what we do.

We would like to acknowledge and thank Emma Brain for leading this important work.

The development of a RAP is not easy, and nor should it be. The process required us to deeply consider why we were doing it and what the benefit to our members would be. We are pleased to share the statement we developed to outline our ‘why’. We are told that it provides not only an understanding of our RAP but the ACA more broadly.

We are so excited to take you with us on this journey.

Put simply, we are developing a RAP because we believe it is the right thing to do.
Firstly, we are an organisation of considerable influence within the built environment sphere, and we want to use this influence to create a more diverse, equitable and sustainable profession. We acknowledge that we have much to learn from Traditional Owners in relation to the impact of colonisation and care for the land and environment. We are just beginning to understand what Country, with its layers of complexity and richness, means to First Nations people and we are committed to engaging in authentic, meaningful exchange to learn more.
Secondly, we acknowledge that much work is to be done in improving diversity and inclusion within the profession. We want to be part of a profession in which First Nations students view architecture as a viable and rewarding career path. Our role in this is to provide our membership with the resources and understanding to lead culturally safe work environments and to raise awareness of supportive programs such as CareerTrackers and Reconciliation Australia.
Thirdly, many of our members work with government and are increasingly being asked to demonstrate an understanding of Country and First Nations concerns as part of procurement processes. The NSW Government’s Connecting to Country Framework is a clear example of how the architectural profession is being asked to incorporate First Nations history, truth telling and continuous culture in the built environment. Similar policies are emerging across Australia.
Fourthly, the National Standard of Competencies for Architects has been updated to require that architects build their knowledge of First Nations culture to maintain Registration. The onus is now on practices and individuals to upskill and embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture in their work. We see it as our ethical responsibility and our business remit to assist architectural practices with this endeavour.
Lastly, by establishing a RAP, we could offer this opportunity to our smaller-sized member practices who may not be able to develop their own RAP, thus extending the value and benefits of RAP initiatives.

Our RAP Working Group will be made up of representatives from each branch committee, ensuring that our efforts represent the unique interests of each state. Activities have already begun with the addition of our First Nations Understanding and Voice to Parliament portals on our website. Our efforts are a genuine commitment to equity and learning.

The beautiful artwork on the cover of our RAP is by Judith Coppin, a renowned artist and Yindjibarndi Elder, and tells the dreamtime story of the seven sisters star system. We purchased the rights to the artwork through Juluwarlu Art Group, who have transferred 100% of the fee to Judith.

Download a copy of the ACA Reconciliation Action Plan