SA – Advocacy, Mental Wellbeing & Culture

27 June 2021

The ACA – SA has had a strong focus on advocacy, mental wellbeing and culture, and have welcomed the return of their popular series of face-to-face business lunches.


We are thrilled to have Anna Roussos Recruitment + Advisory working with the team in SA for 2021. Anna Roussos is also involved with the Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum in SA and we value her unique perspective and input.

We would also like to thank Rondo, Event Sponsor for the Business of Design Lunch. Kaylee and Ivar, it was a pleasure to have you at our event and thank you for your support. We look forward to working with you in the future.


ACA – SA has been involved in several different advocacy areas. These include:

The Construction Culture Initiative: The ACA has been invited to several events initiated by discussions with the Institute of Architects and the MBA regarding the often toxic culture of the building industry. We believe there is an opportunity to change culture, mental wellbeing, work/life balance and procurement expectations, and it has been wonderful to be part of open and frank discussions about how the whole industry could do better.

SA Commercial Construction Industry Forum: This group has been re-established as a smaller and more focused group with DIT and industry representatives – Simon Thomson is ACA’s representative and has already had fruitful discussions with DIT on a number of issues. Simon is forming a working group with DIT to clarify guidelines for cascading consultancy appointments, with the architects as Lead PSCs being appointed first for scoping studies prior to the appointment of secondary consultants.

We are also discussing changes to Prequalification Guidelines, which now require JAS-ANZ third party certification for both ISO 9001 and ISO 4801 (WHS). Many smaller consultants do not have this at present – expect a questionnaire shortly!


The ACA – SA Committee started the year with breakfast and the launch of the Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum on 23 February. ACA – SA Branch and National President John Held welcomed 40 people to The Adelaide Pavilion in the city. We were joined ‘virtually’ by ACA CEO Angelina Pillai; Ben Channon, founder and chair for the Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum in the UK; and Brian Clohessy, Head of People and Character at BVN Architecture in Sydney.

In her opening address, Angelina said “Mental wellbeing in the architectural profession and its impact on running a business is more important than ever. It’s always been important, of course, but COVID has escalated its position on our priority lists exponentially.”

Our attendees also included guests from the Master Builders Association, who highlighted that mental health and industry participation as a result of challenging work practices are a broader issue than purely architecture, affecting the full suite of consultants and contractors across the construction industry.

For the first time in over 12 months we held a Practice Managers lunch on 6 May at The Cumby. Tom Earls from Fair Work Lawyers talked about how COVID-19 has greatly accelerated moves away from the traditional office environment, particularly work-from-home arrangements. Unsurprisingly, workplace laws haven’t necessarily kept pace. Tom is currently finalising an update to the ACA employment agreement to better reflect these changes.

On Tuesday 8 June, we held our annual Business of Design lunch where we provide a unique opportunity for architects to hear a prominent designer talk about their business. This year we invited Emma Williamson, partner at TheFulcrum.Agency. More than 60 attendees heard how Emma and her partner, Kieran Wong, had started their first practice straight out of university; had transitioned to merging it with a large practice 25 years later; and then started a completely different type of practice, TheFulcrum.Agency, a few years later. Emma described the care and effort needed to design a practice, as opposed to designing buildings, and the values and services that effort produced. As well as the many questions at the end of the talk, we know there were spirited discussions back at the attendees’ offices afterwards!

In the second half of 2021, we are bringing back the Business of Small Practice (BoSP), with Warwick Mihaly joining us to talk about “The engine of growth – Why and how do we grow, what types of projects will support our growth?” Warwick Mihaly will explore these important questions and more, reflecting on lessons learned from a decade of running and growing Mihaly Slocombe with his wife, Erica. He’s going to pull apart their engine of growth, lay the bits out on the table, and hopefully put it all back together again.

Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum

The SA AMWF has been working hard to outline our vision, activities and events for the year. Our vision is to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing across the architectural profession and provide education, events and toolkits to support practices and individuals in developing their own wellbeing programs.

Our members are raising awareness through one-on-one approaches to practices to participate in AMWF events and to participate in improving wellbeing within their practice and profession. EmAGN representatives Rhiana Bell and Hugh Michelmore are working with Dino Vyrnios to create our first community event. Stay tuned for more information!

There are a number of national initiatives taking place, which will further assist practices with raising awareness about wellbeing.