Kieran Wong reviews 2017

11 December 2017

ACA National President Kieran Wong reviews the ACA’s 30th year and outlines his plans for the future.

It’s with some sadness that I write this article, having just learnt of the demise of one of Western Australia’s most respected and prolific practices, JCY Architecture and Urban Design, due to financial pressures in the tight Perth market, and losses sustained on a major project, the Perth Children’s Hospital. This news has motivated me more than ever to expand the work of the ACA as we continue to position ourselves as the key advocate for architectural business across Australia. Nationally, practices of all scales are working in increasingly competitive markets and are subject to the procurement processes of both government and private industry. The work of the ACA is critical to ensuring that our members are equipped with business nous and can practise with the knowledge that they have an advocate working on their behalf. It is also essential the ACA continues to push for fairer and more equitable procurement environments, particularly on major projects, where the architect’s risk and liability (and ability to negotiate a fair contractual agreement) is too often compromised.

In 2017, our 30th year in operation, our national membership grew from 296 practices to 391. The biggest increase was in NSW, where 52 practices signed on as new members. The challenge is now on around the rest of the country to match this remarkable effort! Since becoming National President, one of my major projects has been to lead a review of our 2012 – 2017 Strategic Plan. This review demonstrated the overwhelming success of the ACA in not only achieving its goals but also expanding upon them. The following highlights and achievements are worth sharing:

  • Substantial membership growth across all branches;
  • Increased income, both through membership and sponsorship;
  • Increased recognition by government and industry as the leading voice for architectural business matters;
  • Increased investment in industrial relations, legal and HR support as part of our membership package;
  • Significantly expanded training and CPD offered through monthly webinars;
  • An executive officer position in each state to support the work of each committee;
  • Increased level of collaboration nationally, both at a committee and executive officer level;
  • Business focused tools and resources, such as the Architects’ Time/Cost Calculation Guide, Short Form Client Architect Agreement, Professional Services SubcontractNational Salary Survey and Salary Calculator; and
  • Creation and expansion of the website as the key platform for up-to-date information and resources.

Going forward, our mission is to better understand the scale and depth of our members. We are proud that our membership body consists of sole practitioners through to multi-state firms. However, this does present a challenge in ensuring that our tools are relevant to everyone.

In 2018, we will commit ourselves to producing the tools and resources specific to the various phases of practice life. Through conversation at a committee level and with our members, we are identifying the gaps in our resources and will seek to address these through a cohesive series of business notes that will be available through our website. We are progressing our methods of communication and will be using social media to augment our message.

The work of the ACA would not be possible without the dedication of our state and national committee members, whose input is both voluntary and invaluable. In keeping with our mission to maintain a truly ‘federated model’, each state operates autonomously and develops events based on specific need and contextual relevance. Critical to this success are our tireless and committed Executive Officers in ACA branches. We intend to maintain a pared-back structure that places members at its core, rather than bureaucracy. Thank you also to the generous support of our national and state sponsors, without whom our offering would not be as comprehensive.

Finally, I would like to wish our members, friends and associates a Merry Christmas and a restful break. Despite the sadness with which I opened this address, I am hopeful for an optimistic and interesting year ahead.

Kieran Wong is ACA National President and a director of Cox Architecture.