President’s Comment – EOFY 20/21

John Held , 28 June 2021

John Held reflects on the challenges of the past year and the ACA’s ongoing commitment to gain recognition, raise awareness and advocate to government and the wider community.

We’ve come through stressful times over the past year, and many firms have recovered and found new opportunities and challenges. That optimism is tempered by multiple lockdowns this week across Australia, and news of a new building disaster in Miami. It also comes as the Australian Building Codes Board advises it has recommended to the Building Ministers Meeting that Architects and Level 1 Accredited Building Designers be given the same registration status for designing high-rise buildings. That’s a fight that will now have to be fought state by state if and when legislation is introduced to implement consistent registration frameworks.

The recent efforts to explain to legislators in Victoria and NSW just what architects do, and what qualifications they need to become and stay registered, show we have more work to do as a profession to explain ourselves to the wider public. We like talking design and finding Instagrammable shots, and that is important – but our professional obligations are much broader than that. We also have to find the cracks in the current system, and fix them – whether it’s the perception architects don’t have a good knowledge of the NCC, or contributing to poor outcomes through not saying “no” to procurement conditions or timelines that will only end in tears.

Finally, it’s worth remembering the ACA was formed to help architects manage their employment obligations. The establishment of an Architects Award in 2010 was a milestone, but there is much still to do to assist the profession in improving the way architects run their businesses. Complying with Fair Work Commission requirements is just the start – creating a great work culture, addressing mental wellbeing, and equipping teams for new challenges and opportunities is critical for the future of the profession.

My thanks to the National Executive Committee for their tireless work, to all the branches for their input and support, and to our executive team scattered all over Australia and ably led by Angelina Pillai. I’m gratified so many members have supported us over the past year, and our profession needs the collegiality we saw during the first wave of COVID to continue in the future.