CEO Report – September 2023
Last month our national executive committee and ACA staff gathered for our second in-person meeting this year in Hobart. It was an important conference as we worked through the key priorities for the ACA business for the coming year, whilst committing to bolster our existing member offerings on supporting practices with the business of architecture. (Head to Susie Ashworth’s update here). Of note is the ACA’s renewed focus on regional practice and engagement with the university sector, which has led to the establishment of two new working groups. We are delighted to introduce our Regional Practice Working Group (RPWG), chaired by Michel Greenhalgh and our University Engagement Working Group (UEWG), chaired by Emily van Eyk, both of whom are current ACA WA Committee members.
Regional Practice Working Group
The RPWG’s purpose is to connect architectural practices in diverse geographical areas across the country and research current issues, challenges and opportunities of running a regional practice. Key to that is identifying appropriate networking forums and exploring collaboration opportunities with like organisations for a stronger, more cohesive voice. Ultimately, it’s about raising the profile and value of architects in regional areas, many of whom are currently facing skills shortages, the cost of doing business in their regions, material shortages, and the general housing crisis in their areas. The ACA is also running a series of interviews with regional member practices, located everywhere from northern Queensland (Counterpoint Architecture) to regional Victoria (Brad Hooper Architect) to remote lands in Western Australia (EKD Architects). We will be featuring more fascinating stories over the coming months as we continue to celebrate these regional practices.
University Engagement Working Group
Following our MoU with the Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia (AASA), our UEWG’s purpose is to connect with the tertiary education sector and promote the value of architectural practice and business to university students with a view to offer appropriate access to ACA tools, resources and content. Central to this is supporting relevant university research efforts linked to the business of architecture, including ACA’s involvement in the Australian Research Centre funded Wellbeing of Architects project and the Next-Gen Architectural Manufacturing Research.
The ACA RAP!!
In massive news, the ACA’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) has just been endorsed by Reconciliation Australia. We are so proud. As an organisation of our size, we had to think seriously about whether (or not) we have the resources, capability or bandwidth to commit to this serious undertaking. But what we soon realised is that regardless of our size our sphere of influence is far greater than we imagined. By establishing a RAP, we are now exploring how we might 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. ACA has done the hard yards, so now it’s time to extend the benefits to our members.
Pay Equity and the Architects Award
Equal Pay Day was on 25 August, which marked the 56 days into the new financial year that women must work to earn the same, on average, as men did last year. This is a big deal for the ACA. As an employer body our ongoing mission is to ensure that employers are adhering to their obligations under the Architects Award – through education, awareness, training and ongoing advice. To signal this day, our Stepping Up! series featured an event on pay equity with our partners Parlour and the Champions of Change Architecture group. If you missed it on the day, this event will be available as a CPD video recording shortly. New data from the forthcoming Parlour Census Report shows that pay gaps persist in architecture. Whilst the good news is that the gaps have reduced slightly, and the gap for people aged 25–29 has halved since the last Census, the not-so-good news is that new analysis shows that the pay gap is clear when we take cultural background into account. More work to follow in this space, but a good read from our archives is a place to start.
Construction Industry Forum
On 28 August, John Held and I represented ACA at the Australian Construction Industry Forum’s quarterly conference. A range of critical items were discussed including a status update on the State-by-State progress on the Building Confidence Report, the construction industry skills and materials shortages, security of payments, professional indemnity insurance and ongoing advocacy for accessibility and affordability of Australian Standards. What was very heartening to note was the focus on the culture of the construction industry and how collectively we have the power to shift the dial. We had three back-to-back sessions in the latter part of the meeting with Professor Naomi Stead who presented the Wellbeing of Architects research project; Cara Gleason from Our Watch, who highlighted the dire state of sexual harassment in the industry; and Nigel Carpenter from MATES in Construction, who highlighted the devastating suicide rates among Australian construction workers. There was vehement agreement from the group that it is in all of our business interests to improve the mental health and wellbeing of everyone in this industry, and a call for each of our professional groups to play a part in that. The ACA continues to prioritise this urgent need through our Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum groups and events, and our partnership in the Stepping Up series.
Thanks to our Partners
There is lots more on the go at the ACA as we continue to explore more member benefits. We can’t do our work without the enormous support of our national partners. Our national principal partners play a critical role in enabling the ACA to develop excellent resources to support members, pursue a strong editorial and communication program, whilst continuing our advocacy and promoting a better understanding of the business in architecture. So thank you, Planned Cover, Deltek, Macquarie Bank, Ardex and Assa Abloy. Meanwhile, our knowledge partners, the Built Environment Channel and informed Lawyers, provide specialised content and expert commentary to the ACA on key industry topics relevant to architects; and NATSPEC continues to support our important AWMF program.