President's Report - April 2019

John Held , 2 April 2019

1 - President's Report


Welcome to this month’s news from ACA. Firstly I’d like to say how much I’ve enjoyed working with our new CEO, Angelina Pillai. Her report shows she already understands many of the issues facing ACA members, has worked closely with ACA staff and committees, and has started the task of visiting each state to meet with local committees and members. Make her welcome, and don’t hesitate to email or call her to discuss issues you believe are important!

Another new way of communicating is via the ACA Chat Forum, recently established by Michael Lewarne of ACA – NSW/ACT, and open to all. While architects can have many conversations in public social media platforms, the conversations, questions (and pleas for help) between ACA members can be different and extremely valuable. Join now!

There has been much discussion recently about unpaid internships, long working hours and the value of competitions. Much derives from overseas, where it seems it is legal to offer unpaid internships. We are fortunate in Australia to have an Architects Award under the Fair Work Act, which covers students and thus makes unpaid internships illegal unless it is a fixed-term appointment that is part of a recognised university course. The ACA is aware that many students are still offered unpaid work. We are working hard to get the message out via universities that this is not OK: firms in related industries have recently been fined substantial amounts for offering such places!

Working long unpaid hours is also an issue in many offices, and for those paid award wages it is also illegal. There is still an attitude, often fostered at university, that more hours and all-nighters produces better architecture. We need to teach students and employees that this is the wrong approach. Clearer objectives, more focus on efficient outcomes, and less rework should make it possible to do the work in the time allotted. The fees should be realistic in the first place – and if they are not, it’s not the student or the graduate’s fault, it’s the fault of management. The cost should not be borne by the junior members of an office.

On the issue of time, the ACA is due to front the Fair Work Commission in May to recommend changes to the 2014 round of award agreements. One of the key changes to the Award last year, made without the consultation or consent of either party to the award, was to have time off in lieu (TOIL) accumulate at the rate of 1.5 hours for each hour of overtime worked.

There are plenty of ways the ACA can help architectural practices in Australia – but we need your involvement and commitment to do it! You can inform us about how TOIL works in your practice to help us more fully understand current practice in the profession. This month, we also ask you to give feedback about our annual Salary Survey. So, have your say, participate in our events, join our Chat Forum or consider joining a Committee. Every bit of involvement helps strengthen the ACA community and assists us to advocate for our profession.