CEO Update – Reconciliation Week 2023

31 May 2023

This year’s National Reconciliation Week theme is inviting us to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in tangible ways in our everyday lives – where we live, work and socialise.

Closer to home, for architects, the new competency standards in the 2021 National Standards of Competency for Architects (NSCA) introduced a standard on ‘Understanding Country’, signalling the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ ongoing connection and custodianship of Country, and the ethical responsibilities to the physical environment.

I recently experienced the power of this deep connection to the natural environment, and the harmonious integration of a building with the surrounding landscape. Professor Deen Sanders, a friend of the ACA, generously gave John Held and me a mini tour of the new Deloitte office building in Sydney. Deen was instrumental in providing guidance on the cultural significance of Indigenous traditions and their reflection in the building design to create a sense of place, connection and cultural pride. It was a formidable experience, and we thank Deen for his hospitality.

To support our members and the architectural profession in learning more about First Nations design and practice, we are delighted to house a range of information, interviews and CPD webinars and resources in our First Nations Understanding hub. We also know that The Voice to Parliament proposal has raised many questions about the constitutional change and what it will mean for Australia. Earlier this month, we compiled some useful resources on the Voice to Parliament to help answer some of those important questions.

Last week, John and I attended the Australian Construction Industry Forum’s quarterly meeting where, together with other construction industry bodies, we discussed wide-ranging issues from building quality, professional indemnity insurance and the culture of construction, through to the States and Territories’ implementation of the Building Confidence Report. We continue to explore how/where we can collaborate more effectively as a collective agency of industry associations to improve construction outcomes.

David Chandler, NSW’s Building Commissioner, joined us to share updates on the State’s construction reform agenda and emphasised the importance of ensuring the competency of professionals across the industry. He explained the tripartite formula of securing bipartisan political support, subject matter expertise and ongoing measurements as key ingredients to enable change. The ACA welcomes the NSW Government’s election promise to set up a building commission by the end of the year to oversee and regulate the construction industry in a move to increase supply in the current housing crisis.

ABCB CEO Gary Rake also attended and updated us on the next phase of the National Construction Code with commercial energy efficiency, condensation and waterproofing as some of the key subjects that they’re continuing to work on.

I was also thrilled to moderate a very interesting event as part of the National Gallery of Victoria’s Melbourne Design Week on whether AI can make architectural homes more accessible to more people. Statistics show that only about 5–10% of single residential homes in Australia are architect-designed, with most houses in our cities being designed and delivered by builders and developers. The panel discussion explored a different method of delivering architecture and how AI can have the ability to break down some of the existing barriers to people engaging with architects. ACA VIC/TAS Committee Secretary Kirby Roper and ACA Research Director Dr Peter Raisbeck joined expert digital technologist Evan Harridge to discuss how AI has the potential to revolutionise the way architects design and how customers can more easily acquire architecturally designed homes. We look forward to sharing some of these insights with you in due course.

For many practices, it’s performance review time. The ACA has just completed the analysis of our National Salary Survey and will be presenting the report at our webinar on 7 June. As skill shortages, talent scarcity and staff retention continue to provide challenges for the architecture profession, the Salary Survey will help practices benchmark salaries around Australia to inform their remuneration decisions and budgets going forward.

In other news, the ACA, together with other key bodies in the profession, has agreed to support the Parlour Census Report project, which will chart the professional profile of architects and the industry’s growth and development in recent years, including the important analysis of equity in the profession. Stay tuned!

I’d like to wish you all the best as you take stock of the financial year that’s been and have found the ACA as your one-stop business partner – from our helpdesk advisory, guide employment agreements, template contracts, tools, toolkits and much more. Oh, and by the way, it’s renewal time… you know the drill! We look forward to a fruitful FY2023–24, as the ACA continues to work hard providing resources, support and advocacy for you and the profession.