CEO Report – July 2024

3 July 2024

In my last message I spoke about what ACA stands for, why we exist and how we benefit members and the wider profession. Many members shared that this was very important and useful to know, but were also curious as to how we came to be. Why do we stand for what we do and what led to our existence? So, I thought it might be timely for me to revisit the genesis of the ACA and the critical role we played in establishing a standalone Architects Award. The ACA continues to represent architectural practices’ rights and obligations for fairer outcomes in industrial relations matters to this day.

It was the early 1980s. There was no Architects Award but there was a Union push with an ambit claim seeking unrealistic entitlements for employees. Approximately 100 small firms were served with the same notice and had to get representation to appear before the then Industrial Arbitrator. With no one body collectively representing the interests of architectural firms at the time, and the Australian Institute of Architects unable to do so constitutionally (as it would be a conflict of interest for a peak body to represent both employees and employers), the ACA accepted this responsibility with those firms. Key people joined forces to participate in seeking a fair outcome for all parties in a standalone Architects Award, that wasn’t ‘roped’ into other Awards such as Manufacturing or Miscellaneous. These efforts around the nationalisation of Awards and the Modern Awards were also part of a broader national push for consistency.

As a result, the ACA was founded in 1987 as the national peak body representing the interests of employers in industrial matters, including workplace conditions and Award negotiations. We also joined forces with like organisations such as the SA Practicing Architects Association, who had a similar role in South Australia since the early 60s. We fought for fair. As one member, Nick Katris, described it, “The ACA came to our rescue and did some good work in representing us, which helped to establish an Award that appeared to be fair and sensible”. Thanks to our loyal members who continue to support the work that we do, the benefits are being realised across all practices and the profession at large as the ACA advocates for best practice.

This remains the basis of ACA’s charter, with oversight by the Industrial Relations (IR) Subcommittee. In addition, we have a responsibility to positively influence practice management in architecture and to engage in the wider industry. Today, the ACA addresses the ‘business of architecture’ more broadly, with IR remaining as a vital core of ACA activity.

The ACA invests wisely in IR advice and general counsel on behalf of our members. We have engaged with Fair Work Lawyers who do an outstanding job in ensuring that matters before the Fair Work Commission (FWC) relating to the Architects Award are conducted thoroughly and equitably through a process of reviewing FWC decisions, determinations, drafts and Union submissions. Additionally, the ACA publishes regular explainers on the various Awards relevant to architectural practice – the Architects Award, the Clerks Award, the Manufacturing Award (draftspeople) and the Miscellaneous Award (interior designers). Also, as members, you are entitled to free IR advice on a range of employment matters.

Running an architectural practice can be demanding and all-encompassing. Keeping up with legislative changes, IR regulations, human resources updates and the ongoing compliance and governance of running a business is very challenging. That’s why the ACA was born – to help you navigate these complexities so you can focus on your core business.

So, when you see an IR alert or a new legislation update pop up in your inbox as part of our timely and reliable information offering, we are not merely reporting on the outcomes or ‘keeping you in the loop’. Rest assured, we have been behind the scenes working tirelessly to ensure your needs as firms are being represented fairly and sensibly. Our firm belief is that when employers are thriving, it benefits all.