First Step Towards an ACA RAP

Emma Brain , 1 April 2023

The ACA is thrilled to announce that we have submitted the first draft of our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan. This project has given our organisation the opportunity to deeply reflect on our purpose and ability to influence positive change.

While we are awaiting feedback from Reconciliation Australia, we would like to share the first iteration of why we are committed to this program:

Put simply because we believe it is the right thing to do.

Firstly, we are an organisation of considerable influence within the built environment sphere, and we want to use this influence to create a more diverse, equitable and sustainable profession. We acknowledge that we have much to learn from Traditional Owners in relation to the impact of colonisation, and care for the land and environment. We acknowledge that First Nations culture begins with ‘Country’ and we are committed to engaging in authentic, meaningful action in coming into relationship with our ‘country’.

Secondly, we acknowledge that much work is to be done in improving diversity and inclusion within the profession. We want to be part of a profession in which First Nations students view architecture as a viable and rewarding career path. Our role in this is to provide our membership with the resources and understanding to lead culturally safe work environments and to raise awareness of supportive programs such as CareerTrackers and Reconciliation Australia.

Thirdly, many of our members work with government and are increasingly being asked to demonstrate an understanding of Country and First Nations concerns as part of procurement processes. The NSW Government’s Draft Connecting to Country Framework is a clear example of how the architectural profession is being asked to incorporate First Nations history, truth telling and continuous culture in the built environment. Similar policies are emerging across Australia.

Fourthly, the National Standard of Competencies for Architects has been updated to require that architects build their knowledge of First Nations culture to maintain registration. The onus is now on practices and individuals to upskill and embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture in their work. We see it as our ethical responsibility and our business remit to assist architectural practices with this endeavour.

The RAP endorsement process is long and robust, as it should be, and not something we undertook without consideration and conversation with each of our branches. While our formal endorsement is months away, we’re got to work on some of our commitments. The first is the formation of a First Nations Understanding portal on our website, where we will save relevant resources, events and information. The portal will be launched soon.

We encourage each of our members, regardless of the size of their practice, to learn more about the purpose and intent of the RAP program through the Reconciliation Australia website. To hear how other architectural practices have delivered RAPS, then visit our RAP webinar in our CPD on Demand portal. We’ll share more about our RAP as the endorsement process progresses.