The enormous upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic required rapid action and a suite of new resources, advice and advocacy. Throughout the crisis, the ACA has worked hard to keep members up-to-date with information on remote working, government stimulus and workplace safety, industrial relations and legal advice around employment and contracts, and resources and advice to maintain and protect our mental wellbeing.
We have also shared the stories and experiences of practices of varying size as a way of providing ideas, support and a little inspiration.
The Removal of Mandatory COVID-19 Isolation
Mandatory COVID isolation periods will be removed nationally on 14 October, with a more direct burden on employers to address COVID risk within the workplace under WHS laws. Tom Earls from Fair Work Lawyers teases out the issue in his latest IR Update for ACA members.
Communication & Quality IT
Silver Thomas Hanley Business Manager and ACA VIC/TAS Committee member Matthew Tence says good communication and significant IT investment have helped navigate and overcome the challenges of the last two years.
Putting People First
QLD/NT Committee member Denis Waring shares his pandemic experiences as Principal of PW Architecture, and the need to prioritise people through challenging times.
COVID-19 & the Workplace – IR Update
As the Omicron strain continues to wreak havoc across the country, Emma Avey from Fair Work Lawyers provides timely advice on workplace issues, including WHS consultation with employees, Rapid Antigen Testing, and managing leave entitlements.
COVID Resource Roundup
Creating a COVID safe workplace and keeping on top of rapidly changing restrictions, while also keeping projects on track, is a constant challenge. The following is a list of useful links providing up-to-date Coronavirus advice and information.
Vaccinations – September Update
Our legal advisor, Tom Earls from Fair Work Lawyers, has provided a further timely update for ACA members on the current advice around vaccination for employers, with a focus on assessing risks and implementing control measures, third-party mandates, workplace discrimination laws, employee refusal and vaccine incentives.
Ventilation, Air Quality & the Need for a National Taskforce
Former Premier of Victoria and trained architect Ted Baillieu emphasises that ventilation in buildings is an urgent priority, deserving of a national taskforce to offer guidance and highlight the importance of air quality management.
Workplaces & COVID-19
Orla Hegarty, Assistant Professor at University College Dublin, has been advocating and educating on the important issue of ventilation in buildings for the last 18 months. Here she shares some clear, simple advice and watchpoints.
There are a number of organisations and experts providing insights and advice about the importance of natural and mechanical ventilation within buildings in relation to the COVID-19 response.
Vaccinations & the Workplace
Tom Earls from Fair Work Lawyers provides a timely update for ACA members on the current advice around vaccinations and the workplace.
Ventilation and COVID-19
We’ve been slow to recognise that COVID-19 is airborne and poorly ventilated buildings are hazardous, particularly for vulnerable groups. Geoff Hanmer has been writing about the impacts of indoor air quality since early in the pandemic, and outlines some of his findings here.
ACA Pulse Check 5 – findings
ACA’s first Pulse Check for the year – the fifth since the pandemic began – gives a fairly positive account of the rebound from COVID. Here we outline the key findings, including stats on levels of work and work pipeline, the impact of JobKeeper, changes to employment and workplace arrangements, mental wellbeing, and the future outlook.
Enhancing Workplace Communication
Parlour’s comprehensive Work & Wellbeing survey increases understanding of the impacts of the pandemic on Australian architecture. The answers to the open questions, in particular, contain a wealth of advice and reflection, and reiterate the need for improved communication. Anwyn Hocking identifies the core themes and assembles key advice.
Mandatory Vaccines – What Employers Need to Know
The COVID crisis continues to pose many challenges for employers, often involving areas of the laws that were largely unexplored until the pandemic. The next such challenge relates to employers mandating vaccines. Tom Earls explores the issues for ACA members.
Clerks Award Flexibility Extended
The temporary Schedule I in the Clerks Award, which allows for additional flexibility to assist employers and employees during the pandemic, has been extended to 30 June 2021.
Urgent Stimulus Required for Construction Industry
The ACA is calling for Government to fund and bring forward construction projects, prioritising strategically planned, well-timed projects, supported by effective procurement processes and equitable contract terms.
ACA Pulse Check 4 - Preliminary Findings
Announcing the preliminary results of Pulse Check no. 4
The ACA – Vic/Tas has released the results of the first VicPulse survey. Top level findings reveal worrying levels of work cancelled or on hold. On the other hand, the survey responses are quite positive in terms of wellbeing and many practices have been able to keep staff on due to the support of JobKeeper.
On 1 September, the parliament passed legislation amending JobKeeper provisions as part of its JobKeeper 2.0 announcement. These changes will come into effect on 28 September. Tom Earls from Fair Work Lawyers unpacks the detail.
Stage 3 and 4 Restrictions in Victoria
One week into Stage 4 ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions in Melbourne and Stage 3 restrictions in regional Victoria, key information and resources for individuals and business continues to be rolled out. The following is a summary of useful information and links.
JobKeeper Package - Update
The JobKeeper Package was announced on 30 March 2020 by the Federal Government, assisting a significant proportion of architectural practices with the retention of staff. On 21 June, the JobKeeper payment was extended until 28 March 2021, albeit at a reduced rate. On 7 August, further changes were announced regarding eligibility.
Architecture’s Gig Economy, COVID-19 & Building Resilience
As the global pandemic hits architects hard, Peter Raisbeck proposes a few ideas about how to build professional resilience.
Clarification of Stage 4 Restrictions
The ACA – Victoria/Tasmania provides further clarification of COVID-19 Stage 4 restrictions, with advice on construction site access, worker permits, COVID Safe Plans and ongoing advocacy.
COVID-19 Stage 4 Restrictions
On Monday 3 August, the Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews announced Stage 4 Restrictions, which apply to the Melbourne area and do impact architectural practices.
Targeted funding & thinking long term
Justine Ebzery reflects on the need for targeted funding for new public housing, public schools and community health infrastructure, with adequate resources for design and planning.
JobKeeper, HomeBuilder & going solo
Jennifer Crawford highlights the eligibility issues of JobKeeper and HomeBuilder, and describes her recent move back to the life of a sole practitioner.
Infrastructure of long-term benefit
ACA – WA President Malcolm Jones reflects on JobKeeper, the flexible workplace, and the need for more resources for infrastructure of long-term benefit.
COVID-19 Building Industry Guidelines for Victoria
The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) has issued an update of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidelines for the Victorian building and construction industry, incorporating recent changes to restrictions and government subsidies.
Pulse Checks & the Construction Outlook
If architecture is the canary in the coalmine, the outlook for construction is appalling, writes Geoff Hanmer.
Unpaid Pandemic Leave & Annual Leave at Half Pay
The Fair Work Commission has extended the entitlement to unpaid pandemic leave and annual leave at half pay for many awards to 30 June 2022.
Cyber Crime in the Age of COVID-19
As we all try to adapt to a changed world, cyber criminals are taking advantage of changes to our physical working conditions and day-to-day processes. Planned Cover takes a look at the issues around cybersecurity and offers tips on protecting your practice.
Pulse Check No. 3 - Preliminary Findings
The preliminary findings of the ACA Pulse Check No. 3 are out now. Concerns about workflow continue, but some projects have restarted and JobKeeper payments have enabled many practices to keep staff on. Mental wellbeing results are positive overall, with some toll on senior management. Practices are returning to the office and considering necessary changes.
COVID-19 & Industrial Manslaughter
By 1 July 2020, Victoria will introduce industrial manslaughter laws for the first time. At the same time, Australia continues its efforts to contain COVID-19, including significant restrictions on work and workplaces. Tom Earls from Fair Work Lawyers explores the issues for ACA members.
Running a Practice in Lockdown
Warwick Mihaly shares the challenges of trying to run a small practice in lockdown while supervising remote learning with small children and keeping his business afloat.
How COVID-19 Will Change the Traditional Workplace
What will be the impact of COVID-19 on the traditional workplace and what can we learn from this giant workplace experiment, writes Hames Sharley Principal and Workplace Portfolio Leader Stephen Moorcroft.
COVID-19 Guidelines for the Victorian Building and Construction Industry
The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) has released the latest version of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidelines for the building and construction industry in Victoria.
Investment in Digital Design
Existing investment in new digital platforms has meant that dwp|design worldwide partnership was well placed to switch to working mode when the COVID-19 crisis arose.
Remote Working Advice
Working remotely can be challenging and disruptive, and requires realistic expectations and a flexible approach, says Charmaine Kai of Brisbane-based practice 8i Architects.
Innovation, Resilience & Relationship Building
COVID-19 disruption has been all-encompassing, but there are signs of innovation, community resilience and relationship building emerging all around us, observes Kate Fitzgerald of Fremantle-based Whispering Smith.
The JobKeeper Package Unpacked
From Monday 20 April 2020, businesses can enrol for the JobKeeper scheme to help retain staff during the downturn caused by COVID-19. The following update provides answers to frequently asked questions for architectural practices.
Planning for Health, Wellbeing & Financial Sustainability
As Queensland prepared for lockdown, Cairns-based practice People Oriented Design worked on strategies with health, wellbeing and the long-term financial sustainability of the practice firmly in mind.
ACA Pulse Check Advice on Mental Wellbeing
The ACA Pulse Check No 2 survey invited participants to answer questions about the mental wellbeing of their practice and people. Susie Ashworth unpacks the results and highlights the best tips and advice for looking after the mental wellbeing of all within practice.
Temporary COVID-19 Leave Variations Announced for Modern Awards
The Fair Work Commission has made changes to a wide variety of modern awards, including the Architects Award, to include unpaid pandemic leave and the capacity to take annual leave at half pay.
New Challenges & Modes of Working
Hayball has explored varied modes of working and learning over many years, but the rapid shift to remote, distributed workplaces in the era of COVID-19 is a new challenge.
Building on Existing Flex Systems
For BVN, the transition to all staff working from home has been ‘seamless’. The ease of the move is an outcome of already having robust flex systems in place, a commitment to open honest communication, and a focus on health and wellbeing.
COVID-19 Fallout - Contract Questions
As COVID-19 disruption hits projects, supply chains and timelines, Wendy Poulton, Principal of informed Lawyers Pty Ltd, looks at some popular contract questions.
How to Retain Staff During the Coronavirus Pandemic
The response to COVID-19 is unprecedented and evolving daily. As government decisions directly and indirectly impact on businesses, employers are looking at ways to continue operating in the face of enormous challenges. Tom Earls from Fair Work Lawyers briefly describes the options available to architecture practices.
The JobKeeper Package, announced on 30 March 2020 by the Federal Government, offers desperately needed relief to businesses to enable them to retain employees. This will assist a significant proportion of architectural practices with the retention of staff.
Clerks Award Flexibility
The Clerks Award has been temporarily amended to enable more flexibility during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Force Majeure Special Conditions
Special conditions for the ABIC SW and ABIC MW contracts introduce the concept of Force Majeure. These special conditions were updated and reissued in early July 2022.
Practice Management and COVID-19
Building on knowledge gleaned from the recent ACA Pulse Check Survey No.1, Fiona Martin outlines the key areas practices should be working on, and answers some FAQs about leave under various circumstances.
COVID-19 and Construction Contracts
What does COVID-19 mean for architects administering ABIC contracts? Christopher Larcos and Shanna Beaton of Moray and Agnew Lawyers outline key considerations.
Government Support and What Employers Can Do
As we face a crisis of unknown proportions, Rob Peake, Principal of Management for Design, outlines what is needed from the Federal Government, and what architectural practices can do to weather the storm.
ACA President’s Comment – March 2020
As architectural practices face uncertain futures in the time of COVID-19, ACA National President John Held discusses the importance of sharing stories, ideas, and love and consideration for each other.
COVID-19 and Mental Health
As we face unprecedented challenges and stress with the COVID-19 health crisis and inevitable economic effects, it’s critical that we maintain and protect our mental wellbeing and that of our colleagues, employees and families. The following resource round-up points to useful tips, reminders and strategies to help maintain positive mental health during this difficult time.
How are You Responding to COVID-19?
Online support is more important than ever. The ACA invites architectural practices across Australia to share practice experiences, knowledge and strategies.
Communication, Autonomy and Initiative
Brown Falconer is in the process of transitioning all staff to remote working. Mario Dreosti emphasises the importance of open communication and sharing both the knowns and the unknowns as essential to building trust, autonomy and initiative.
Policy, Process and Restricted Contact
Thomson Rossi’s approach to managing the practice in the context of the novel coronavirus is guided by a COVID-19 Policy Statement, which establishes clear boundaries and habits. Simon Thomson explains that the intent is to keep the office open as long as possible.
Tight Financial Management and Open Communication
TheFulcrum.Agency partner Emma Williamson explains how the consultancy is responding to COVID-19 and offers advice about how to proactively manage through a crisis while maintaining the cultural integrity of your practice.
Clear Communication and Patience
Justine Ebzery outlines the steps Fulton Trotter has taken in response to COVID-19 so far, including clear, regular communication to clients and employees, transitioning to more work from home arrangements, and a focus on patience and kindness.
Government Support for Business
The Federal Government and all state and territory governments in Australia have now responded to the COVID-19 outbreak with announcements of economic stimulus and assistance packages.
Coronavirus: Stand Down Considerations
Tom Earls and David Putland from Fair Work Lawyers provide an update on key considerations for employers when circumstances force them to stand down parts of their workforce.
Trialling Remote Working
Taylor Robinson Chaney Broderick (TRCB) has been trialling staff working from home for a number of weeks. Leigh Robinson generously shares details about how this is working, lessons learned, and the guidelines the practice has developed.
ACA Pulse Check no. 1 - Preliminary Findings
The ACA has released the preliminary results of the ACA Pulse Check no. 1. We are now analysing these further.
AACA National Examination Paper Postponed
Given the evolving Coronavirus situation across Australia, the AACA has postponed the APE National Examination Paper currently scheduled for 21 April until 18 August.
IT Advice for Working Remotely
As many practices start shifting employees to working from home arrangements, Peter Johns offers comprehensive advice on all things tech, from computers, software, internet and email to useful apps and file storage solutions. He also offers some terrific tips on ergonomics, team morale and using that downtime productively.
Coronavirus: Implications for Employers
With COVID-19 threatening to have significant impacts on businesses and workplaces around Australia in the coming weeks and months, Tom Earls and David Putland from Fair Work Lawyers provide insights into the complex and often competing legal concepts relating to employment.
Preparing for COVID-19
The situation in relation to COVID-19 is changing rapidly. We encourage all ACA members to show leadership within their practice, to understand their obligations as employers and business owners, and to plan ahead for potential disruption as much as possible.