President’s Comment – December 2021

John Held , 6 December 2021

As we prepare to farewell 2021, ACA President John Held reflects on the challenges, opportunities and lessons learned over the last year.

As we entered the pandemic in March last year, the fear in the profession was of disruption, cancellation of projects and looming unemployment as well as what the health implications would be. As we leave the second year, with new clouds on the horizon, many practices are busy and the concerns and stresses are different, but just as real. Dealing with deadlines, mandatory vaccination policies, unexpected price rises, stressed staff and no real end to this strange new reality is hard. We hear many reports of increased levels of anxiety in the profession.

Andrew Charlton’s recent address at the Press Club noted that COVID-19 had provided a real-world experiment for economists to be able to test their theories in practice. In the same way, our profession should reflect on the past year and a half to measure what worked well, and what we should learn. What is one thing we should continue to do?

My thought is that, at the start of the pandemic, there was a much greater sense of collegiality and concern for others – a quick phone call, sharing some information as we navigate uncertainty. As fatigue sets in, it’s easy to forget how helpful that could be. Establishing the Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum last year was fortunate timing and gives focus not just to “soft” skills but the very practical things that need fixing in our profession: from the long hours culture to contracts, fees, and battling bureaucracies.

My thanks go to Angelina Pillai for her work, her clear and strategic thinking and her coordination of the great ACA team all around Australia, and to our sponsors who have enabled us to expand the range of services available. Thanks also to the Branch Committees and the National Executive for their work. I’d also like to extend our condolences to NSW/ACT President Agi Sterling on the recent death of her husband Nick.

To our members – keep giving us feedback as to how we can make this profession better, more enjoyable and more supportive, and we wish you all the best for Christmas and the New Year.