RAP Working Group

11 December 2023

The ACA’s new RAP Working Group was developed to support the ACA membership with their learning around First Nations knowledge and engagement, with a focus on Reconciliation Action Plans. Here we provide a summary of the Group’s aims and a brief interview with the RAP Working Group Chair Stephen Pearse.

Our RAP Working Group has representatives from each branch committee, ensuring that our efforts represent the unique interests of each state. Our primary purpose is to promote the benefits of reconciliation within our membership; strengthen our understanding of First Nations culture within our membership; and create opportunities for further engagement and employment of First Nations people within our membership. Our efforts are a genuine commitment to equity and learning. We have already started work, with the addition of our First Nations Understanding portal and future planning around CPD events and the sharing of knowledge and resources.

In August 2023, the ACA’s Reconciliation Action Plan was endorsed. Our RAP statement explains our motivations for developing a RAP:

“We are an organisation of considerable influence within the built environment sphere, and we want to use this influence to create a more diverse, equitable and sustainable profession. We acknowledge that we have much to learn from Traditional Owners in relation to the impact of colonisation and care for the land and environment. We are just beginning to understand what Country, with its layers of complexity and richness, means to First Nations people and we are committed to engaging in authentic, meaningful exchange to learn more… we acknowledge that much work is to be done in improving diversity and inclusion within the profession. We want to be part of a profession in which First Nations students view architecture as a viable and rewarding career path. Our role in this is to provide our membership with the resources and understanding to lead culturally safe work environments and to raise awareness of supportive programs such as CareerTrackers and Reconciliation Australia.”

Also see our RAP article, where you can read our full statement and download the ACA Reconciliation Action Plan. The beautiful artwork on the cover of our RAP is by Judith Coppin, a renowned artist and Yindjibarndi Elder, and tells the dreamtime story of the seven sisters star system. We purchased the rights to the artwork through Juluwarlu Art Group, who have transferred 100% of the fee to Judith.


Thanks to the following members of our inaugural RAP Working Group for your contributions to this important initiative:

Kukame McPierzie, WA
Steve Pearse, NSW/ACT
Brett Hudson, QLD, NT
Annabelle Roper, VIC/TAS
Kirsty Hewitt, SA
Michael Hegarty, SA

Get in touch

The new RAP Working Group seeks expressions of interest from ACA member practices in Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. If you would like to join our small, passionate team of architects to discuss Reconciliation Action Plans and shared challenges and opportunities, please get in touch.

The ACA also welcomes input into the issues that matter to our member practices. If you have feedback on how the new RAP working group can assist you and your business, please get in touch.

RAP Working Group Chair – Stephen Pearse

The Chair of the ACA RAP Working Group Stephen Pearse is a Director of stephen pearse architect pty ltd in Sydney. In the lead-up to the Voice referendum, Steve reflected on the importance of working towards an equitable society and the creation of new opportunities for First Nations people, expanding engagement and understanding. Here Steve answers a few quick questions about the new RAP working group.

Why is the ACA RAP Working Group important?

At the ACA our charter and our focus is essentially around the Business of Architecture. The working group is made up of members with direct practice relationships and our ACA committees from across Australia. They will provide strong and direct local guidance as to how our RAP responsibilities can be carried out and deliver change and business improvement. The Australia-wide membership of our working group will ensure it brings valuable insights from city, urban, suburban and regional/rural membership.

What are your aspirations for the group? 

To have our enthusiastic committee members spread the knowledge into their respective committees and our various states and territories and for their diverse backgrounds and locations to inform how we progress our RAP commitments. A key priority will be to open pathways for more First Nations involvement within our businesses, and to assist and develop understanding of the range of services in which First Nations groups can participate in the delivery and improvement of our built environment.

What are some of the changes you’d like to see happen in the profession and the wider community regarding First Nations knowledge and engagement?

Much is already underway, with many groups actively developing programs and information. We can assist by developing learning opportunities alongside these groups and clarify the inputs that need to be delivered. A key activity will be how we can enhance First Nations inputs within our profession. Ideally, we should be able to identify who is available and best placed to deliver the inputs and provide platforms to assist their exposure to a wider audience.  At the same time we need to inform our members of their obligations and assist in how to meet these within the ACA business charter.