Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum in Australia
The ACA is delighted to take the lead on the development of an Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum (AMWF) in Australia, which will build on the great work being done by AMWF in the UK. Forums were established in Victoria, Queensland and NSW in 2020, with SA and WA groups up and running in early 2021.
Why is this important?
Mental wellbeing in the architectural profession and its impact on running a business is more important than ever. Managing and directing an architecture practice is often gruelling, frustrating and relentless. Low fees, poor procurement practices, long hours and an undervaluing of architecture in the wider community are all longstanding challenges that can put enormous strain on a workplace culture. Creating an environment that supports a healthy and vibrant workforce can be difficult, particularly in times like these, when COVID-related challenges such as remote working, isolation and health risks provide additional stresses for both employers and employees.
The ACA does not take these issues lightly. As an employer body, the foundations of ACA’s charter are to represent and support architectural practices, our members and the broader architectural community as it relates to workplace conditions and subsequent management of staff. Mental wellbeing is a serious workplace issue.
Who developed the original AMWF?
The ACA has been fortunate to have had support and guidance from the Architects’ Mental Wellbeing Forum (AMWF) in the UK. Launched in 2017 by Ben Channon, an Associate and Mental Wellbeing Ambassador at Assael Architecture, the group’s goal is to raise awareness, to share knowledge and resources, and to research ways to support mental wellbeing within architecture.
The AMWF UK meets quarterly to share their findings and discuss new ideas for nurturing mental wellbeing in a supportive, thoughtful environment. The most recent resource provided was a COVID-19 Toolkit, which offers advice on staying positive, practising and strengthening resilience, and staying in touch with others.
We had the pleasure of meeting Ben in 2019 when he was in Australia for Parlour’s Transformations conference, and were particularly impressed with the success of the AMWF and the positive impact that a collective action on wellbeing has on practices and the wider profession. Ben’s generous guidance and prompting to start the Australian version of the AMWF has led to the ACA taking the ‘bull by the horns’ and doing just that. It’s for these reasons we are keen to take the lead.
How will AMWF Australia work?
Our aim is to raise awareness of mental health issues within the profession and to create a supportive community of practitioners in each state to meet on a regular basis to share knowledge, experiences, research and strategies in a bid to support architects’ mental health in the workplace.
What resources are available?
The Australian AMWF has adapted the Architects Mental Wellbeing Toolkit (UK), with local resources and simple practical advice to individuals and practices on coping with the stresses of an increasingly pressured profession. The Toolkit covers eight key themes, including Office Culture and Overtime, Support Systems and Staff Education, Technology, the Physical Office Environment and Promoting a Healthy Workplace.
For more information on mental wellbeing and supporting resources, visit the ACA website here.
How do I get involved?
With the support of Brian Clohessy from BVN and our ACA branches and host practices, we aim to establish AMWF groups in each state.
AMWF meetings are open to all interested parties regardless of ACA membership. If you would like more information on AMWF or would like to join us for a meeting in future and contribute to the direction of the group, please contact the following facilitators:
Victoria / Tasmania
Katherine Ygosse at firstname.lastname@example.org
Queensland / Northern Territory
Louise Street at email@example.com
NSW / ACT
Michael Lewarne at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sascha Byrne at email@example.com
Emma Brain at firstname.lastname@example.org