CEO Update – August 2022
Recently I attained a very important credential in my professional career – a micro-credential in Professional Ethics from DeakinCo, through my role with the Australian Council of Professions. It was a reflective assessment based on experience and gathering of evidence demonstrating ethical and equitable professional practice. It was an enlightening process, one where I learnt about myself as a professional, leader, mother, friend and as a human being more than I could imagine, and the vulnerability and awakening that comes with it. Ethical behaviour should be a given, and it should form every fibre of our being. But sometimes it doesn’t happen as organically or naturally as we would like. So we need prompts, like guidance, resources, thought-leading events, toolkits or just plain dialogue. Prompts to make sure we are on the right track and if we’re not, then we need to actively seek them in order to fulfil our role and obligation as leaders.
For that, I am incredibly proud that at the ACA, we are doing just that. We made a firm commitment that the ACA is all about supporting our members and the profession. As an industrial relations body, we are also very committed to supporting the business of architecture as it relates to equitable practice, innovative practice, and fundamentally a commitment to creating and fostering healthy and vibrant work cultures across this profession. With a labour crisis stifling our profession at the moment, we need to be vigilant about creating a culture of work that is both attractive and equitable yet financially sustainable.
I guess the million-dollar question for us and our members is how do we find out what priorities to focus on and how are we actually doing that?
The answer is by simply asking the right questions. Our pulse check surveys (all six of them) have given us invaluable data to act upon. And we are able to respond with the provision of timely information for practices to be able to continue operating productively; representation on industrial relations matters; expert business advisory services across legal, HR, business and financial management; an improved business toolbox; and relevant online events, just to name a few.
Thanks to all practices who took the time to fill out our recent pulse check survey. We are currently working on disseminating the information, and will publish key findings shortly.
Culture & wellbeing
We are also prioritising culture and wellbeing, with our Architects’ Mental Wellbeing Forums around the country growing from strength to strength. Our collaboration with Parlour and the Champion of Change Architecture Group on the Stepping Up! initiative has been highly successful so far, allowing us to engage in meaningful projects that help further the conversation around equity in practice, so as a profession we are striving for healthier, more sustainable practices for all.
We also recently stepped up our advocacy efforts on a range of issues by responding to state and federal Government reforms and submissions on critical issues such as the NSW Design and Building Practitioners Bill; the recent proposed changes to the Victorian Architects Registration Board; establishing an Action Plan in WA to guide the right approach to the State Government on the protection of architects on the national registration framework; providing feedback to Planning SA around architects’ engagement with the planning portal; and building strong relationships in Queensland between the Office of the Queensland Government Architect (OQGA), the Institute of Architects, Board of Architects Queensland and Department of Public Works. Through our membership with the Australian Construction Industry Forum, the ACA continues to advocate loudly and firmly on issues that matter across the industry, like unfair contract terms, unpaid labour, poor procurement practices, the fees dilemma, and just how and where we can influence and shift some of the less desirable government behaviours.
Industry collaboration is also very much on our agenda. Our belief is that this profession is way too small for us all to be doing our own thing, so strategic industry partnerships are key. We have established MoUs and working parties with other architectural bodies such as the Institute, ArchiTeam, the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia, the Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia and state registration boards. Strength in numbers and trying to achieve a collective voice is a big deal for the ACA. I won’t lie, it’s not easy and we still have a long way to go, but we’re getting there.
Our member practices are the lifeblood of ACA, and we can’t do our job without the support of our financial members. Nationally, we are delighted to report that our membership has grown solidly over the past few years. Today, we have close to 800 member practices. That’s well over 6,000 technical staff underpinning those practices. We thank you for your continued commitment to be part of the ACA community.
Together with our members, we are fortunate to have the support and dedicated efforts of our national principal partners. Ardex. Macquarie Bank, Planned Cover, Deltek and Central Innovation complement our national knowledge partners Mecca Events, informed lawyers and a very warm welcome on board to the Built Environment Channel (BEC) who have just signed on as our national knowledge partner. The ACA and BEC have had a longstanding relationship as content partners, so it gives me great pleasure to have formalised that partnership. Together, our national partnership program provides specialist advice on products and services to assist you with fulfilling your business operations more productively.
Plans for the year ahead
So, what’s in store for this new financial year? Lots. The ACA National Executive met for the first time in 2½ years for a strategic planning session recently. Our current strategic plan comes to an end at the end of this year, so we have started work on the next three years. We haven’t yet announced what the new strategic plan looks like, but let’s just say we have exciting plans for you.
Our next three-year Strategy will include enhanced advocacy for the profession, a targeted regional practice focus, ramped up PR on the value of architecture, more tools and resources for our Business Toolbox and strengthening the culture of architecture through our Stepping Up! initiative. We are looking forward to bringing our AMWF Toolkit to life by rolling out a full schedule of activities and editorials around the toolkit’s topics, which you can customise for your practice, and expanding our highly successful BoSP event series to a location near you. Last but not least, reliable data is fundamental to advocacy and future planning. We will continue to run our regular pulse check surveys to build longitudinal data. We will also partner with other organisations and academic researchers on larger research projects.
We look forward to working with you, our members and our valued partners on all this, plus heaps more!
If you are not an ACA member, it’s never too late to join. Head to our membership page to find out more and sign up!
The ACA NEC: Matthew Thomas, John Held, Gilda Donegan, Angelina Pillai, Agi Sterling, Paul Viney and Kukame McPierzie.