NSW/ACT 2021 – D&BP Act, Collaboration & Wellbeing

6 December 2021

In 2021, the NSW/ACT branch focused on CPD events on the NSW D&BP Act, advocacy, collaboration with other professional bodies and prioritising mental wellbeing.

Well, what an eventful year 2021 has been – both globally and locally in terms of the continuing impact of COVID and legislative changes within the construction sector. Despite all of this, the construction industry continues apace. We would like to thank the efforts of the members of the NSW/ACT committee during a turbulent year.

The NSW/ACT branch continues to work hard in delivering for members. Some of the many activities that have happened in the second half of 2021 include the following:

Design and Building Practitioners Act (D&BP Act)

With the Design and Building Practitioners Act being the main legislative change in NSW for 2021, the ACA has been working hard to communicate the changes to members through a series of CPD presentations. Branch President Agi Sterling has also been active alongside 40 other representatives within the DBP consultative group.

Branch Committee members David Springett and Fabricio Siquiera put together a survey of 212 ACA practice members covering over 1,000 employees, in relation to registration for the D&BP Act. We received responses from 61 practices, with roughly a third of those practices having registered under the Act. The main reasons given for registering was associated with current workload and potential future projects. Concerns still exist around whether Professional Indemnity insurance will cover many of the risks associated with this work and if this will affect problems in the construction of Class 2 building projects.

Working with the Institute, the NSW ARB & the AACA

Agi Sterling, Vice President Ivana Simkovic and National Webinar Program Manager Katherine Ygosse have collaborated with members of the NSW Architects’ Registration Board, Australian Institute of Architects and Architects Accreditation Council of Australia on proposed compulsory CPD for architects in the knowledge of the NCC.

Monthly meetings are being held with the NSW AIA president Laura Cockburn and AIA Policy officer Lisa King with Agi Sterling and Ivana Simkovic to address many of the ongoing issues within the industry and the profession.

Working with TAFE

A CPD unit for TAFE titled “How to produce trustworthy designs” is currently being developed by the office of the Building Commissioner along with representatives from the Australian Institute of Architects, Consult Australia, Engineers Australia and members of the ACA committee Agi Sterling, Ivana Simkovic, Steve Pearse, Harry Hamor, Fabricio Siqueira and president of the VIC/TAS branch of the ACA Paul Viney. The interview was co-ordinated by the DBP team and Dominic Wong, who is managing the design audit team in Fair Trading.

Working with Universities

President Agi Sterling also presented to the UNSW Engineering department regarding Ethics in Design.

Architects’ Mental Wellbeing

At a time when mental wellbeing was at the forefront, we continued our work on developing the Architects’ Mental Wellbeing Forum to support architects in this work and as a space to learn and connect. Thanks to Michael Lewarne for facilitating the NSW/ACT AMWF. Our Forum had some incredible speakers over the year (including Mary Freer below, who spoke of her Compassion Revolution), with their insights and frameworks supporting architects and their mental wellbeing.

At a national level, the localised version of the Architects Mental Wellbeing Toolkit was launched, a wonderful resource originally created by the AMWF in the UK. The ACA is also part of an interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers, led by Professor of Architecture Naomi Stead at Monash University, researching the Wellbeing of Architects: culture, identity & practice. This is a three-year project with two years to go. Whilst it’s likely that lockdowns have ended, the impact on professional life goes on and this continues to be important work. We’re committed to supporting architects in improving their wellbeing both individually and in workplaces.

Meeting our ACT members

An end-of-year road trip is scheduled to the ACT, when Agi Sterling, Ivana Simkovic and Executive Officer Marie Frost will catch up face to face with ACT members. See details here.

Congratulations Agi!

Congratulations to our NSW/ACT Branch President Agi Sterling on her recent honour of Life Fellowship with the Australian Institute of Architects. For more information, see our news item or read our interview with Agi here.

Seasons Greetings

The NSW/ACT committee wishes all the members Seasons Greetings and looks forward to a productive 2022.