End of year event – my speech

Last year was a big year for me personally, and for the Institute of Architects as we progressed our Advocacy agenda through various key initiatives. Here is my speech from our end of year gathering, where I summarised all of those activities for members.

Good evening and thank you all for attending tonight’s event…especially as this is really the silly season for the number for xmas drinks…… I would like to welcome our special guest the Hon Peter Tinley, MLA, Minister for Housing, Peter has shown a great interest in our causes and we appreciate his interest in architecture.  We received a late apology from the Hon Liza Harvey, Shadow Minister for Planning, who has been equally as supportive. So it’s great to have support from both sides of politics.

We haven’t held an end of year event for a couple years and I would like to thank Fielders helping to make this possible. Fielders is our major state partner and it’s good to have that relationship with Shivan and his team.

I would also like to thank our other sponsors:

Mondoluce, USG Boral, Homeguard, Heritage Council, Rondo, Natspec, iGuzzini, Laminex, Austim

National partners:

Bluescope, Dulux, AWS, Bondor

The Institute manages to pack a lot into one year and this year has been no exception.  I hit the ground running way back in March around the time Trump was inaugurated and we welcomed a new government… the perfect storm you could say. It has been a vertical learning curve and as patience is not one of my strong suits and bureaucracy my pet hate I have learned new skills and been excited by the potential of this opportunity to advocate for our profession.

As you know the Institute has three pillars: Advocacy, Education and Membership. I thought I would give you a brief overview of the Chapter’s efforts in regard to these.

It was important to the Chapter council that we become more targeted and louder when it came to advocacy of our profession, Our aim was and is to be seen and heard and leaders and agitators. We want to produce practical outcomes and listen to our members needs and advocate for change where possible. We want to bring our membership along through clear engagement.

We appear to be gaining traction with increased exposure in the media including them approaching us for comment and executives from agencies requesting to meet with us. We are also engaging with members of parliament to raise public awareness about the value of architecture and architects.

Our advocacy work in the media is not all high-brow. I want the public to see that as a profession we are normal very hardworking people, we are approachable, sensitive and creative. But we are also considerate of environmental and financial sustainability. So we have grabbed the opportunity to engage with all media in WA from the local rags, to the West, and to Chanel 10. Australia By Design has been approved for a second season and I will be one of three presenters around Australia.

This is a great opportunity to promote our profession and your work, so please send me your projects for consideration by the producers. The show will be filmed in March and April 2018.

To each member of parliament or leader of government agencies we meet we present a goody bag if you will packed full of what we can do for them, including:

  • Our four new national policies: Affordable Housing, Indigenous Housing, Multiple Residential Standards and Work Experience and Internships.
  • Our Chapters state wide research on statistics for affordable housing in WA 2017
  • The national advice paper on non-conforming building products
  • The joint submission to the State Government’s Commission of Inquiry into Government Programs and Projects on Government Procurement. We were delighted to join with the Association of Consulting Architects, Consult Australia, and Master Builders and thank Steve Coghlan from Consult Australia for doing most of the heavy lifting. To be honest this is normally at the top of the pile!
  • And copies of The Architect magazine…this is always the pressie that gets the oohs and aaahs!

But it’s not just about policy. Our message to politicians is also about how we can be part of the change process and help government achieve success.

With 1200 members locally we are relatively small among other built environment groups, so it is important that we collaborate with kindred organisations to improve our influence.

The Hilton Design Competition with the minister’s department of Communities, along with the Government Architect and City of Fremantle, has been a great example of willingness to bring good design to social housing and cooperation between government and the professions.

Next year we will be focusing on procurement of consultant teams at the Local gvt level and Design WA and retention of the OGA.

For many of us the tendering process for professional services at local gvt level    is a nightmare and it would have to be one of the main concerns for our members.  The outcomes often result in poor design and financial outcomes as local councils struggle with lack of experience and understanding of process and value for money among other things.  I would appreciate any feedback that you our members have before we take on this task in 2018.

We are liaising regularly with the OGA department and advocating for Design WA.  I personally have spoken to John Carey on a number of occasions as he is the member of parliament vested with the role of coordinating this policy. We do understand that Metronet is the highest priority for gvt in this term and we have been invited to professional information sessions. Watch this space!

We are also continuing our event series with the Australian Institute of Building, Consult Australia, Engineers Australia and Master Builders – Future Opportunities in the Built Environment event series for the second year. Relevant and informative sessions that are also good for networking;

Our second pillar of Education is ably supported by our Education Committee and the two academics on our council Lara Mackintosh and Kate Hislop. It is imperative that we have a strong architectural education system and the Chapter is working on strengthening our relationship with the unviersities including through relationships with staff, research, professional engagement for course work, providing opportunities for students to gain experience in practice and with networking and mentoring. We are also working with SONA offering opportunities at o network at events.

I am very proud to be the first woman President so gender equality and flexibility in the work place are very important to me but as a mother of 3 boys it is equally important to me that male architects also have the opportunity to participate more in family life, parenting/ caring roles and the opportunities to have a life balance is also very important to me.

We are working with the Architects Registration Board to lessen the onerous re-registration requirements for those returning to the workforce after more than two years out of the profession.  Anecdotally I believe that there is a direct correlation between this requirement and the loss of registered female architects 10-15 years after graduation, and it may be a factor in why more fathers are not stepping out of the workforce. We appreciate the ABWA members are reviewing this policy and have given the Institute an opportunity to present our case. We are sending a letter to Bill Johnson as requested.

We recently held the first WA Parlour Session with Justine Clark and I was delighted to participate in a conversation with Emma Williamson sharing our story of progress in the profession to a mixed audience

And just a week before that, I personally holding the first in a new event series called ‘Work Women Wisdom’ which was open to members and non-members. It is starting a conversation about our shared experiences on things like work options, managing a work life balance, feelings of isolation and concern for our career trajectory after time away.

This week the Federal Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency revealed statistics on gender pay gaps that support out concerns for women in our profession which is about 28% on average.

Nationally we are rolling out the architectural Champions of change programme and we ask large practices to consider taking this up … I know Peter Lee has promised to help with this!

The awards program is our most visible and constant activity. It’s also the biggest, making it one of the most difficult to deliver to everyone’s happiness. While next year’s planning is in its early stages, what I can say is that the events will be a little different than in previous years so I hope that excites you a little.

Membership is our third pillar is one that needs to be addressed. At national council and national practice committee level a lot of work is being done. A new membership system will be rolled out for 2019 membership renewals. It will be more inclusive, collaborative and fair, and recognise the modern makeup of the profession.

We look forward to welcoming new chapter councillors next year and urge you pls to vote.  I would like to thank Peter Hobbs for his 6 years of service and other retiring councillors Nic Brunsdon, Kate Hislop and Kylee Schoonens for their input over the past few years.  We are all volunteers.

To our members and supporters I thank you all for your continuing support and patience as the Institute moves in the 21st century … albeit sometimes frustratingly slowly ….. we are now seeing the rewards for all the efforts of past Presidents David Karotkin and Philip Griffiths in particular financially we are now in the black!

Finally I would like to thank the Institutes team Michael, Kim and Adriana.  They continually provide invaluable advice and support and have been very accommodating of my wish to change some of the ways we do things here.  Thank you

As Xmas is approaching and deadlines are looming larger I wish all the best for the break with your loved ones.  Stay safe and see you next year.