President’s Comment – May 2022

11 May 2022

On the last weekend in May, the ACA National Executive will meet (COVID willing) face to face in Melbourne for the first time in two years. After so many Zoom meetings, this is a welcome chance to connect, plan and report – there are exec members I haven’t met yet!

During that time the organisation has grown, planned new ventures, responded to members’ needs and advocated for the profession, the wider construction industry and the public good. We have needed to be adaptable, and our amazing team has made that possible. It’s required the same flexibility that all architectural practices have had to embrace over the past two years, with all its advantages and challenges.

ACA’s partnership with Parlour and the Architecture Group of the Champions of Change to deliver Stepping Up, a new event and editorial series that will run throughout 2022, has already delivered a wealth of resources and case studies on flexibility in the workplace. We look forward to further collaborative sharing of ways to enrich the profession through equity in practice.

The first stage of ACA elections is complete, and we welcome new committee members in all branches and thank those who have returned to contribute to the wonderful work our branch committees undertake. We will, over the next few months, also particularly thank the work of retiring committee members, including some who have served for more than 20 years. We also farewell and thank Louise Street for her tireless work as Executive Officer for the Queensland/NT Branch and welcome Sharon Knighton as her replacement.

Many states will implement Automatic Mutual Recognition for architects on 1 July this year. The various boards have been working towards the necessary mechanisms for this to occur, but in many details remain unclear. We will continue to share information on how it might affect different types and sizes of practices who work across state borders. We have also been advocating for changes in the way Australian Standards are sold in Australia, and believe that any standards referenced in legislation should be accessible at low or no cost to allow the public and practitioners to be fully aware of the implications of those standards.

The Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum continues its good work, and ACA is also an active partner in Monash Uni’s groundbreaking research into the mental wellbeing of the profession. What is becoming apparent is that we need to take this conversation wider into the whole construction industry, from builders and subcontractors to consultants, clients, construction lawyers and government departments. True change will come when poor business, workplace and procurement practices are highlighted and eliminated. Our responsibility, particularly as we are usually involved early in the process, is to be a voice of reason, say no when we have to, and demonstrate that good practice is good business. The upcoming release of the ACA Salary Survey is also a chance to reflect on providing both good working conditions and good renumeration for our profession.

As our National Executive embarks on a new election term, and refreshes our strategic plan, we need to hear from our members as to their priorities. We plan to launch our next Pulse Check survey in early June to track what has changed over the last two years and where we need to be in two years’ time. It will only work if you fill it out. The challenge is yours!