CEO Update – April 2023

Angelina Pillai , 4 April 2023

Clean Air

Last week I was in Parliament House as a guest at the Clean Air Forum, which was hosted by Dr Bronwyn King and chaired by MP Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah. The Forum, a first of its kind in Australia, discussed clean indoor air, ventilation, COVID-safe design and their importance in maximising productivity in an era of airborne diseases and environmental challenges. Speakers included Australia’s Chief Health Officer, medical professionals, scientists, academics, researchers and leading voices within the built environment sector (including an architect and engineer), who spoke at length about why indoor air quality is so critical to the health of the nation. On the agenda were the topics of regulation, building design and retro fits to improve air quality within public and private buildings. There is still a long way to go before any tangible regulatory changes will happen; however, a clear call for compliance codes was made. What did not get addressed, however, was the cost and who will be funding and/or bearing them, carefully navigating clean air and managing energy efficiencies in the longer term. Stay tuned as more is revealed in the coming months. In the meantime, however, the ACA has been across the important issue of ventilation in the built environment for quite some time, so if you have missed any of our content and resources on this topic, head to our website’s Ventilation section.

First Nations Understanding

Another historic event took place on my day at Parliament House, when the Constitution Alteration (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice) bill was passed, which featured the wording of the referendum to alter the Australian constitution “to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice”. For architects, we’ve seen new competency standards in the 2021 National Standards of Competency for Architects (NSCA) being introduced around ‘Understanding Country’. This competency standard signals the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ ongoing connection and custodianship of Country, and the ethical responsibilities to the physical environment. To support our members and the architectural profession in learning more about Aboriginal design and practice, we are delighted to house a range of information, interviews and CPD webinars and resources in a new section on our website on First Nations Understanding. We will build on this over time.

Still on the matter of First Nations knowledge, another exciting piece of news is the submission of the ACA’s first draft of our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan! As an association of considerable influence within the built environment sphere, we want to use this privilege to create a more diverse, equitable and sustainable profession through learnings from First Nations peoples in caring for our land and environment. This project has given us the opportunity to deeply reflect on our purpose and ability to influence positive change. A huge thanks to our WA Executive Officer and National Marketing Coordinator, Emma Brain for championing this significant piece of work for us!

Gender Equity

On the same day as the Voice bill, the Parliament passed the Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (Closing the Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2023, the latest on the Federal government’s gender equity agenda, which aims to accelerate employer action to close the gender pay gap. From early 2024, the gender pay gap data of employers with 100 or more workers will be published, bringing increased visibility to the pay gap for approximately 40% of Australia’s workforce. You can find detailed information on the legislative changes and links to further advice and tools for employers on the WGEA website. See our Resources & Reading list for Pay Equity and an excellent case study on How to Achieve Pay Equity from Cassandra Keller. For more on equity in practice, see our Stepping Up section, which features all the resources, tools and case studies we published with the series last year. Also, stay tuned for details on the 2023 Stepping Up event series, to begin on Monday 8 May. Topics will include pay equity, presenteeism, carers’ leave, psychological safety and practice ownership.

Climate Change

Finally, when I thought things couldn’t get any more interesting in Parliament House last week, the Federal Government passed the Safeguard Mechanism, which is a framework for reducing emissions limits on a trajectory consistent with achieving net zero by 2050. As many would know, the 2021 NSCA also places a new emphasis on environmental sustainability and life cycle assessment, and engages with the concept of whole life carbon. The ACA has compiled information and resources in our Climate Change and Bushfire Recovery section of our website, which we will continue to update over time.

Get Involved

The ACA is mandated to support and advocate on behalf of architectural practices, so the larger our membership base, the stronger and more credible our voice will be… Find out more about joining the ACA and getting involved.