CEO Report – December 2023

11 December 2023

Another year, another AGM! On 27 November, the ACA held our Annual General Meeting and we were pleased to report on another solid year – with membership growing steadily across the nation and financial governance under control. At the end of the financial year, we were close to 850 practices, representing well over 7,000 technical staff. That’s approximately a 10% increase year on year as we grow our membership across the country.

Whilst numbers matter as one of the reliable metrics of a successful membership business, for us it’s a lot more than that. At the ACA we’ve been working hard on building community and collaborating with industry groups that share our values and ambitions. It helps us secure a stronger voice across multiple, diverse platforms – the architectural profession, the construction industry, your clients, the consumers of your services and, of course, Government.


On the topic of Government, I spent Tuesday 28 November at Parliament House representing the ACA through our affiliation with the Australian Construction Industry Forum. It was an opportune time to talk to Federal ministers on both sides of politics about pressing issues. Below is a quick update on our meetings:

  • Julie Collins MP (Minister for Housing, Minister for Homelessness, Minister for Small Business), where we unpacked the Housing Australia Future Fund, Housing Australia, TAFE, migration, and flexibility at work;
  • Cassandra Simpson, Building Policy Advisor to Minister Ed Husic MP (Minister for Industry and Science), explored the NCC, women in STEM, insurance, skills, and BIM;
  • Catherine King MP (Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government), discussed the infrastructure pipeline, Infrastructure Australia, and skills;
  • Tony Burke MP’s advisors (Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Minister for the Arts), talked about efforts to increase women in construction, security of payment, mental health, and engineered stone;
  • Sussan Ley MP (Shadow Minister for women; industry, skills, and training; and small and family business), spoke of supply chains, IR, energy, and skills; and
  • Senator David Pocock, unpacked the issue of housing shortages, security of payment, insurance, and women in construction.

Our collective message is clear. We need more accountability from the Government and greater emphasis on quality standards and design principles, wrapped with a firm commitment to improve the culture of Australia’s construction industry. Without these fundamental efforts, the ‘burning platform’ will not be created.


Our voice is also strengthened because of our relationships with our national partners – Macquarie, Planned Cover, Deltek, Ardex, Assa Abloy, informed lawyers, the Built Environment Channel and Natspec. They help us develop excellent resources to support members, pursue a strong editorial and communication program, and continue our advocacy by promoting better understanding of business in architecture. We thank you all.


Our highlights for the year include the release of a number of new contract templates (more to come) and the expansion of our helpdesk advisory services. Our Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum has grown from strength to strength across the nation and our EAP has been extremely successful.

Reconciliation Action Plan

In another first for the ACA, we have a RAP! This is really important, not just because is a ‘nice to have’ and we tick the box on diversity and inclusion, it’s actually really significant for our profession. 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. A good example is the NSW Government’s Connecting to Country Framework where 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. Of course, the National Standard of Competencies for Architects has been updated to require that architects build their knowledge of First Nations culture to maintain Registration. We see it as our ethical responsibility and our business remit to assist architectural practices with this endeavour. We’ve done the hard yards and heavy lifting, and we don’t want it to end there. We are working with Reconciliation Australia to see how and where we can extend the value and benefits of RAP initiatives to our smaller and medium practices who might not have the resources, bandwidth or money to do this themselves. Stay tuned.

Working groups

In 2023 we were very excited to establish three new working groups to further our efforts in strengthening our community of practice.

  • Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group – our primary purpose is to promote the benefits of reconciliation within our membership; strengthen our understanding of First Nations culture within our membership; and create opportunities for further engagement and employment of First Nations people within our membership
  • University Engagement Working Group – aims to connect with the university sector and promote the value of architectural practice and business to university students. ACA members are architectural businesses made up of employers, many of whom manage and lead employees, including students. Anecdotal statistics indicate that 50% of architecture graduates set up their own practice, yet many have little or no knowledge of how to run a practice, manage employees, pay correct salaries, undertake sound financial control, and the long list of other key elements of running a profitable, productive, ethical and/or equitable business. With that as the context, the ACA is delighted to announce that at our AGM on 27 November, the ACA passed a Constitutional change to include a new grade of membership – Student Affiliate. This new student affiliate grade is about bringing the ACA to the university sector and future-proofing our profession for the next generation.
  • Regional Practice Working Group – aims to research, connect and support regional practice whilst exploring how we might work more effectively with the Regional Architects Association.


A big thank you goes out to our elected branch committee members who work tirelessly behind the scenes. These committed individuals are all volunteers, but their relentless efforts and outstanding contribution to not just the ACA, but the profession at large is to be commended.

As we prepare to toast the end of 2023, I would like to thank the small and enthusiastic team that makes it all happen. To our supportive national executive, led by national president John Held, a dedicated administration team across the States who seamlessly manage membership processes, marketing efforts, governance obligations, partnership liaisons and CPD offerings, and an editorial manager who ensures we tell our stories with purpose and integrity – thank you for sticking by the ACA!