CEO Update - October 2019

4 October 2019

In my last update, I asked how we could keep our profession and your practice relevant and practical. In this overview, I urge you to consider what the triple bottom line means in your practice and what action you are taking to measure that line and the contribution you make to the profession and the broader community.

Business of Architecture and Design Conference

To help you out, the triple bottom line of People, Planet and Profit will be the topic of discussion during an ACA-led panel session at the Business of Architecture and Design Conference on 11 November in Sydney, where the ACA is a proud supporter. Hear from a panel of experts who will dissect, explore, challenge and share some of their strategies on impacting change in our communities while making that dollar count for their practice. The conference will tackle the issues of technological advancements, new business models and the economic imperatives that will drive businesses within the built environment for the coming years. ACA members receive a special discount, so make sure you consider being part of this conference. Head to the conference website to book your tickets now.

ACA Advocacy

The Shergold Weir/Building confidence report is still a high priority for the ACA. All of us need to advocate loudly for better procurement, realistic fees and high-quality design and documentation, leading to better value for the end-user, not the lowest price. Yes, that’s right – not the lowest price!

The ACA is still concerned with whether the States will be implementing the recommendations, and if they do, to what extent is there uniformity. So, we really need you, our members from each state and territory to tell us what’s actually happening on the ground so we can rightfully hold State and Federal governments to account. This was a topic of discussion at the recent ACIF meeting in Brisbane, where Bronwyn Weir was a special guest.

The next ACIF meeting is scheduled in Canberra on 25 November. The focus will be to discuss and agree on key issues in the lead-up to the next Building Ministers Forum in mid-December, also being held in Canberra.

To this end, the ACA will continue to actively engage with governments at a State level with meetings being organised with David Chandler (NSW Building Commissioner) and Andrew Cialini (VIC State Building Surveyor) in October to continue advocating on this front. Please keep us informed via your branch committees of important issues you would like the ACA to represent.

Metrics of Client Feedback

Measuring the performance of your businesses through the eyes of your clients can be the difference between a good practice and an outstanding one. How does the service you provide to your clients stack up? The ACA is delighted to announce that architecture firms of all sizes are now eligible to enter the Client Choice Awards, Australia and New Zealand’s only professional services awards judged solely on feedback from clients. These awards are a means of giving architectural practices of all sizes, the opportunity to receive unfettered feedback from your clients, showing you what your clients view as positive and where you have room for improvement.

ACA has partnered with beaton, research manager of the Client Choice Awards, to co-promote the Best Architecture Firm award and we are encouraging all ACA members to take part.

In addition to being in the running to win an award, each firm that enters will receive a full report of all the feedback collected from their clients, providing in-depth insights into the level of service you are providing to them. Surveying has commenced so get your entry in today to ensure you are able to collect as much valuable client feedback as possible. The cost of entry for firms of all sizes is $150.

To take part, head to the Client Choice Awards 2020.

National Research on Mental Health

Many of us have heard about the famous adage that ‘people are a business’ most prized asset’. So just as important is making sure that we understand how critical their wellbeing is to sustain healthy outcomes and productivity. This knowledge also needs to extend to the future of our profession – architectural students.

The ACA is pleased to support an application for the Australian Research Council’s funding for a research project on ‘Mental Health Amongst Architecture Practitioners and Students’, led by Professor Naomi Stead from Monash University. The ACA’s support of this important piece of work will be through in-kind contributions such as raising awareness, promotion via media channels, and representation on an advisory/steering committee to name a few.

World Mental Health Day is 10 October, aimed at raising awareness and support for mental health education and advocacy. You can also check out the range of initiatives and services supporting Australians living with mental health in our Resources for Mental Health.

The Culture of Unpaid Labour

Our profession is increasingly under pressure to keep businesses in the black and make each dollar count. But this is not a reason to exploit interns and capitalise on cheap labour coupled with the extended work hours’ culture. We need to call out this unacceptable practice and lead the way in redefining what successful businesses look like. The ACA has been invited by ArchiTeam to join them and the Architecture Lobby on a panel discussion to discuss the important issue of unpaid interns, the long-hours culture and the true metrics of success in these contexts. Presenters include practitioners, academia and advocates on the sustainability of the profession from Australia and the UK, who will discuss concrete ways in which to redefine the meaning of success in their businesses.

For more information on interns and employers’ obligations, the ACA has published a range of articles here.

ACA National Salary Survey 2019

Understanding employment and remuneration trends across architectural practices in Australia form an important base for ACA advocacy and assist us in building significant longitudinal knowledge and bringing that knowledge to the industry and government. That is why the ACA national salary survey is so important.

The survey for 2019 has now closed. This year we expanded our reach by inviting non-ACA members as well as our membership to participate in this important survey to strengthen participation for more valuable and meaningful results.

We are pleased to report that we have had a 45% increase in the response rate from last year. Thank you to all those who took time to contribute. We will be sharing the full report of the results in November.

ACA Insight Webinars

‘ACA Insight’, our national webinar program, gives architects the opportunity to join a national discussion on the business of architecture, while gaining CPD.

On 25 September, a special ACA webinar was held on the important changes to the national construction code (NCC). Participants were made aware of selected changes to Volumes 1 and 2 of NCC 2019 and how to apply new NCC provisions in their context.

The next webinar will be held on 16 October, tackling the benefits and challenges of incorporating flexible working arrangements in your practice, with a focus on managing people and ensuring that practices prioritise the right arrangements attract, engage and retain talent. To gain valuable insights from this webinar, make your booking here.

3 - Kerstin Thompson event

State by State Wrap


On Tuesday 27 August, Kerstin Thompson spoke at the ACA – SA committee’s annual business of design luncheon focusing on practice and how the business of architecture can support quality design output. (Above: Kerstin Thompson with ACA – SA Committee members and sponsors Anna Roussos from Anna Roussos Recruitment + Advisory and Cos Cirocco from Planned Cover) This month we have published Kerstin’s presentation in full, a fascinating reflection that busts open some stubborn myths about architectural practice, and emphasises the need to balance design quality with business practice excellence, financial strength, thriving people and workplace health.

The next event is on the Business of Small Practice on 17 October, which is a forum aimed at sharing insights and tools to assist architects in starting, running and growing their small practices. Having successfully run in WA over the past two years, the ACA is delighted to roll this series out to SA with a view to launch nationally in 2020! Book your place here.


This month we have republished Rachael Bernstone’s review of the Business of Small Practice forum, ‘Money Matters’, which was recently published in the Australian Design Review. The forum has been widely embraced by the small–medium practice community across the state, and we are delighted that this initiative is now being rolled out in SA.

Meanwhile, the WA committee is in the process of crafting a survey, to be sent to WA members, to inform the development of the calendar of events for 2020, identifying the areas of action and advocacy members would like the ACA to explore. The survey will hit mailboxes by the end of October and the team look forward to your contributions on how they can better service the practices.


Work continues with our IR Sub-Committee following up on the Award Review and the recent changes to personal leave laws. We will bring you an update as soon as this has been confirmed.

The Vic/Tas committee is pleased to report that the Financial Management event held on 23 September had a great turn-out, where attendees benefited from the experience of the panel of experts from Deltek, Haskell Architects and The Business of Architecture. The next event is planned for later this year and will focus on succession planning for practices. Keep an eye out for the event notice.


Our National President John Held and I visited the committee in early September where we heard firsthand from the team on some of the initiatives that are currently underway in QLD/NT. The QLD education survey and the national salary survey were priorities recently, with further updates on both these surveys coming your way.

Members in Brisbane also heard from Michael Corrigan, ACA’s IR expert on the latest changes to the Architect’s Award and Award review. These included updates on minimum wages, allowances, redundancy, flexible work arrangement requests, payment of wages on termination, right to request casual conversion and leave to deal with family and domestic violence.


The ACA would like to congratulate Abbie Galvin, who was recently appointed NSW Government Architect. We look forward to establishing a mutually beneficial relationship and offer our commitment towards strengthening the sector. 

The NSW/ACT committee is continuing to lobby the NSW government on the Shergold Weir report in conjunction with other key bodies in the construction industry and participating in the government’s expert panels.

Christopher Larcos will be presenting at a branch event on 16 October on the changes to the Australian Building Industry Contracts (ABIC).

Chris Shaw and Tim Horton are returning for Part II of their presentation on the Land and Environment Court on Wednesday 27 November at 6.30pm at Surry Hills Neighbourhood Centre. NSW/ACT Committee members, National President John Held and I are looking forward to heading to Canberra on Monday 25 November for an event with members in the ACT. Keep an eye on your inboxes for more details.

Get Involved

I urge you to continue challenging the boundaries of your businesses for the better – through the people you employ, the profits that you reap, on the planet that you live. For other professionals and the general public to understand the value and impact of your work in our communities now and in the future, we need to amplify our message to a national, broader audience. 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 we will be… Find out more about joining the ACA and getting involved.

4 - BoSP crowd