NSW/ACT Branch Update – December 2023

6 December 2023

The NSW/ACT branch committee has continued working hard in 2023 to deliver informative CPD presentations as well as useful resources to the membership. Mental wellbeing, university engagement, reconciliation and regional practice have also been a strong focus.

In what has been yet another challenging year, the NSW/ACT branch has been working hard behind the scenes to bring value to our members. Membership is steady, with 270 firms representing 2,228 technical staff. This number continues to grow on a weekly basis.


We would like to thank the NSW/ACT committee for dedicating their time, energy, ideas and commitment to a broad range of ACA activities, including resources, working groups, events and advocacy.

  • Ivana Simkovic, President (dwp)
  • Farhad Edibam, Vice-President (GHD)
  • Greg Isaac, Secretary, University engagement working group (Fulton Trotter Architects)
  • Harry Hamor, Treasurer (Gibbon Hamor and Associates)
  • Steve Pearse, RAP working group (Steve Pearse Architecture+)
  • Agi Sterling, Regional working group (Sterling Architects)
  • Justine Money, Events (Noho Architecture)
  • Jennifer Crawford, Communications (Our new home coach)
  • David Springett, Resources (Paragrid)
  • Fabricio Siqueira
  • Michael Lewarne, Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum (Affiliate)

The Committee values input and feedback and encourages all ACA members in NSW and the ACT to take our 2024 Survey.

Take our quick five-minute 2024 Advocacy & Event Planning survey today!


A summary of our latest activities and strategic partnerships is set out below.

New ACA member benefit

The ACA NSW/ACT branch has entered into a partnership with Tools, offering a discounted rate for ACA members for the professional subscription. The Tools app summarises the NCC into simple, interactive graphics. Building Codes, version and Class references are all included, as well as best practices and risk information, helping architects specify how to build properly, save time and avoid mistakes and rework. Staff are able to understand and apply the Building Code and Australian Standards and be able to communicate to all members of the building team. Since the launch, ACA member firms have been using the tool to understand such issues as Building Fire Egress and some of the specific applications that the NSW Department of Education have in regard to balustrades and stairs in schools.

Using the Tools subscription automatically logs and registers use as CPD that members are able to claim in registration. Tools remain free for ACA members for the first 10 uses per month, to allow people to trial the tools at no cost. Coming up in 2024 is a Tools ‘Specification’ tool and other developments. The ACA will host events to demonstrate the Tools app and the benefits shown to members. For more information and to access the ACA member discount, see the full article.

ACA Practice Management Prize

The NSW/ACT Committee was proud to present three Architecture students from the University of Western Sydney with a prize for outstanding work in units related to Practice Management. The winners of the ACA Undergraduate Award were Asal Fathi and Marianne Nicotera, who each received $1500. The winner of the ACA Postgraduate Award was Lucas Harb, who received $2000.

The NSW/ACT branch committee partners with Western Sydney University to donate an annual award to high performing students undertaking the undergraduate degree and the Masters degree in either Architecture or Construction Management. This award relates to the students’ interest and academic performance relating as closely as possible to the Business of Architecture.

We look forward to an ongoing strong relationship between the ACA and the university.

ACA and University Engagement

The ACA has been actively engaging with education partners in 2023. The two main activities have revolved around the Arch-Manu Team and the University Engagement Working Group.

The ARC Centre for Next-Gen Architectural Manufacturing (Arch-Manu Team) is a partnership between academia and industry with participation from overseas and Australian universities including University of NSW, Swinburne and Adelaide University, overseas and Australian Architectural firms as well as industry bodies, including the ACA, AACA, AIA, and CIAT. Research will be undertaken by 25 PhD researchers and 3 postdoctoral fellows to pursue industry-embedded research projects over a five-year period. Online discussion groups, webinars and meetings have been proceeding throughout the year. For more on the project, see our interview with ARC Centre Director, M. Hank Haeusler.

The University Engagement Working Group consists of representatives from each of the ACA branches with the aim of working with the Association of Architecture Schools of Australasia (AASA) to connect with the university sector and promote the value of architectural practice and business to university students. Our representative on this group is Greg Isaac. For more on the University Engagement Working Group, see the profile article.

Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum

Over 2023, the NSW/ACT Architects’ Mental Wellbeing Forum met a number of times online and in person. It is apparent in all our conversations that it’s an area of increasing need. Unfortunately, with increasing challenges, the profession is falling back into bad habits and in 2024 we’ll be working hard to address this and support the profession’s mental wellbeing.

In early 2024 we will see further publications from the Wellbeing of Architects ARC Linkage research., including a series of guides. We’re looking forward to reading all their work and expect it will stimulate more discussions and engagement in the profession around the importance of mental wellbeing, as well as positive change. If you would like to get involved in the AMWF NSW/ACT, get in touch.

RAP working group

We had our first inaugural ACA RAP Working Group meeting on 17 November. An enthusiastic group representing branch committees around the country agreed on the setup for the RAP Group and the general plan for the year. ACA NSW/ACT Committee member Stephen Pearse is the Chair of the new working group.

The initial phase of planning will mean working across all states and territories to identify actions and a potential education plan, informed by member feedback. We will issue a survey seeking feedback from members, which will assist us in shaping a program of events and information/education for CPD, as well as social awareness programs with each branch. It’s an exciting start, given our membership is widely distributed across large CBD, suburban and rural environments. Each representative will be able to bring innovation and advice from their perspective, which will assist all in being productive across the different project locations in which we work.

If you have any ideas or suggestions, feel free to get in touch – attention to Stephen Pearse, Chair, ACA RAP working group.

Regional Report

NSW/ACT Past President Agi Sterling is the NSW representative on the ACA Regional Working Group. She has been doing her best to connect with the vibrant NSW Regional Architects network, with the potential to work more closely with the regional networks committee. The NSW/ACT Committee is keen to conduct a face-to-face CPD event in regional NSW in 2024. We are also interested to run a webinar on affordable housing and how to get in on the selection list. We all believe that this is the way forward for smaller practices.

We look forward to again working closely with the regional networks in 2024.


NSW/ACT Chapter Committee member Justine Money introduces upcoming events in 2024:

We’ve been hard at work curating an exceptional line-up of CPD webinars for the first half of 2024, and we can’t wait to share the details with you.

Unveiling Australian Standards and Class 2 Audits at Build NSW

Mark your calendars for 6 March 2024, as we bring you a captivating webinar in collaboration with Natspec and Build NSW. Join us for insightful discussions on Australian Standards and Class 2 audits, offering a unique perspective on the expectations of IFC drawings.

Navigating Class 1 7 Star Requirements with Clinton Skeoch

On 27 March 2024 we are thrilled to have Clinton Skeoch, CEO of the Australian Glass and Window Association, leading a webinar on Class 1, 7-star requirements. Delve into the intricacies of glass and window selection to meet the latest standards, providing valuable insights into sustainable building practices.

Bartier Perry Returns with DBP Duty of Care and Class 2 Remediation

Following their successful webinar in October on the SOP Act, Bartier Perry is back! This time, we’ve enlisted their experts to present a webinar focusing on DBP Duty of Care and Class 2 remediation, exploring pathways to authority approvals. Save the date for 1 May 2024, as we go live with this informative session.

Jenny Edwards on Life Cycle Analysis and Sustainable Renovation

Join us at the end of May for a thought-provoking webinar by Jenny Edwards. She will share valuable insights into Life Cycle Analysis requirements, emphasising the importance of sustainable practices in construction. Discover the benefits of renovating rather than detonating, and contributing to a greener future.

Your input matters!

We value your input and encourage members to suggest topics for the second half of 2024. If there’s a specific area you’d like us to cover, please reach out to Marie. Your feedback is essential in shaping our future webinars to cater to your professional development needs. Stay tuned for more details on these engaging and informative sessions!


From all of the members of the NSW/ACT Chapter committee we would like to wish all our branch members a safe and happy holiday season and we look forward to working for you and the architectural profession in 2024.