President's report 2016

15 December 2016

ACA National President Steve Kennedy wishes all well, and urges architectural practices to look forward to 2017 with ‘optimism for ourselves but also with optimism and generosity towards our staff’.

It’s that time of year again, when we all pause and stop, take a deep breath, appreciate our friends and families and look forward to another year.

Architects are eternal optimists. We live in a constant state of hope and anticipation, looking to the next project to extend the pleasures of the last or, alternatively, assuage its disappointments. Why else would we do what we do?

At a time when we celebrate so many things, and in particular the joys of living in such a privileged and safe place as Australia, its important to reflect on how we conduct our lives in recognition and appreciation of what we have been given.

Pity the poor architect in Aleppo.

At the ACA our role has, from the start, been to stand up for and protect the interests of our members, the owners of architectural businesses. To protect them from injustice and unfair employment practices (contracts), from unreasonable expectations and demands from their employers (clients), and advance the reputation and standing of industry as an essential ingredient in the health and prosperity of our nation.

And we have worked hard to do that. We have achieved a lot but still have a mountain in front of us. So we too are optimists, believing that with patience, work, rigour and persistence we will succeed.

And we will.

But if we are to represent our industry as a beacon of what is best and good in our society then we need to ensure that we are also able to stand up to the level of scrutiny we wish to apply elsewhere. And in that, the core issue has to be the simple universal rule, applicable across all societies, cultures and religions – treat others as you would have them treat you. Ethically, morally, contractually.

And for us employers that has to start with how we treat our staff. Do they wake up each day looking forward to coming to work because they feel valued, respected and appreciated? It’s not simply about money, but that’s a good place to start. Every study ever conducted has identified that staff performance improves if staff feel and believe they are appreciated and valued.

The ACA was the first and loudest to speak out against the unfairness and illegality of below-award salaries and unpaid internships.

Our approach as owners and caretakers of the Architects Award has always been to ensure it provided a nationally consistent fair work procedure that benefited both our members and their employees.

So let’s not only look forward to 2017 with optimism for ourselves but also with optimism and generosity towards our staff. It’s not only ethically the right thing to do, its also good business.

My best wishes for the festive season and a wonderful, fulfilling and prosperous 2017.


Steve Kennedy

Steve Kennedy is ACA National President.