SA Advocacy in Action

20 July 2022

In the ACA SA Committee, members are passionate and committed to representing the business of architecture and being a voice for practices in their state. Here, Mario Dreosti, Catherine Startari and Simon Thomson offer a glimpse of their ongoing advocacy work.

Being an ACA Committee member requires a commitment and passion from each individual to step up and represent the business of architecture, leading discussions with government, other professional bodies, universities and interested parties, and creating impact by being a voice for practices.

An ACA Committee member could be meeting with local government contacts, talking with our counterparts at the Institute and working together on documentation or attending a local event and moderating a panel. They can also be involved in our Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum, the Keith Neighbour Study Group or working with our Executive Officer on producing our local event calendar.

Let’s hear from a few of our local committee members in South Australia.

Mario Dreosti, Director, Brown Falconer and ACA SA Vice President

Over the past month, I have attended our regular catch up with ODASA, ACA, AIA and APBSA. Out of this meeting came a particular action to provide feedback to Planning SA around architects’ engagement and experience with the planning portal. Following the meeting, ACA Committee members were surveyed for their experiences with the planning portal, and we contacted AIA and certifiers. We have since met with AIA and collated content.

Most feedback relates to the lack of adherence to timeframes and whether the system actually generates the automatic approval it is supposed to if timeframes are not met. The inflexibility for applicant instigated changes or updates being able to be added through the portal without being a singular response to a request from the assessor was also raised. A joint document is now being drafted by AIA with the intention of endorsement from AIA, ACA and certifiers.

Discussion also occurred around the mutual recognition between Australian Practice Boards, but it identified different requirements for individuals and companies. We agreed with APBSA that they would provide some case study examples of how mutual recognition would work in practice for different situations.

Another item for discussion was around supplier provided formal CPD sessions. It was agreed that if rules of the APBSA CPD are complied with, the session is informative and presented by subject matter experts, followed by an assessment, then it should not preclude supplier provided CPD from complying.

On 24 May, I attended our second BOSP with guest Warwick Mihaly. Following his presentation, I moderated a panel of speakers including Warwick Mihaly, Justin Cucchiarelli and Sally Wilson, which was both enjoyable and insightful.

Catherine Startari, Director, GHDWoodhead and ACA SA Committee Member

In July 2020, the Architects Practice Board of South Australia introduced Continuing Professional Development (CPD) as a requirement of all practising architects. Whilst many architects were already participating in professional development and technical seminars, it was not a mandatory requirement and hence sometimes sporadic and undocumented.

As a result of CPD becoming compulsory in South Australia, Ian Hore and I have had a greater involvement in the preparation of the national CPD topics to align with SA CPD requirements. It has also brought a focus to the planning of our local events to meet the requirements of what defines a formal CPD. I participate in national CPD meetings with ACA committee members across all states to discuss what types of topics we plan and proceed with.

It is key that all workshops and events we arrange relate to current issues of interest for our members. We are always interested to hear what issues our members are facing, and it is likely other members have similar queries. This month we have continued to review topics of interest and are currently planning the next six months of CPD activities in SA. If you have ideas for topics you are particularly interested in, contact Sascha Byrne at We welcome input from members.

Simon Thomson, Director, Thomson Rossi and ACA SA Committee Member

My main focus over the last 12 months has been liaising with the Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT), being the biggest and most influential client in SA. I have been ACA’s nominated representative on the newly formed DITCCIF since its inception. The group meets quarterly and general industry issues are discussed with the professions, contractors and key trades.

I have also advocated for changes to the processes around the new cascading consultancy procurement model, which the ACA believes has real merit but was rushed into use without proper consultation. Subsequently, I have instigated and participated in a number of workshops with DIT’s procurement representative and representatives from the major sub consultancy groups to discuss commercial and contractual aspects that need better consideration. This has now concluded, and we await further advice and guidelines from DIT.

I have also headed up negotiations with DIT and the SBC about commercial conditions in contracting with LPSCs that ACA believes are unfair and inconsistent with other segments of the industry. These include fair commercial markups on costs borne by LPSCs, chargeable travel time, etc. These negotiations are continuing with a follow-up meeting with the SBC set for early August.