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President's Wrap-Up

   1 February 2019


Friends and Colleagues
Happy New Year!
It is hard to believe but my two-year term comes to an end this month, so this will be my final WA Chapter President’s Letter to Members. I feel incredibly privileged and humbled to have had the opportunity to be President in what has been a tough two years for many of us and our profession as a whole. Personally, I feel that the tougher the economic climate, the harder the Chapter must work for its members and this WA Chapter Council has given it our all!

The First 6 Months – a Baptism of Fire
My personal aspirations were to give 110% and try make a bit of a difference before my youngest son started year 12 in 2019. I have always felt that the Chapter hadn’t communicated particularly well with its members, the public or to policy makers. And as architects we have often talked too much to ourselves. I wanted the public to see architects as accessible, creative, skilled and considered professionals. To debunk the belief that architecture and architects are not relevant or attainable for the wider community. To do this on our shoestring budget, we needed media engagement.

When I started my term, WA had a new State government hell bent on gender parity and new beginnings. This blended well with the narrative of the first female elected to this role since the Chapter’s beginning in the late 19th Century. Taking advantage of the media’s interest, we leapt on the opportunities offered to spread the word to anyone that would listen (or read) while making connections. These initial offerings were extended to include columns in The West and The Post, articles in other publications, as well as interviews on radio and TV. This media engagement led to invitations to speak at Rotary and Zonta Clubs, universities and schools, and also to participate in panels and forums.

Having often reflected on the value proposition of membership, in August 2017 we initiated the inaugural WA Chapter President’s Letter to Members to inform you of what the Institute is doing locally and nationally for the membership fees we all dutifully pay. This initiative has now been adopted by other State Presidents and I hope that it continues here.

In this environment, it is more important than ever that the Institute has a membership that is engaged and an event program that reflects the modern realities of the profession. In that regard, we have lobbied strongly for a new more nuanced membership structure, with different levels of membership fees. This restructure was due to be implemented last year but unfortunately has been delayed to later this year. If you have friends who are no longer members, then please encourage them to return to the fold. Remember, the bigger we are, the stronger our voice!

Advocacy – Fighting the Good Fight
As a Chapter we made a decision that we would focus on advocacy, to be seen and heard raising public awareness on selected issues that affect our profession and the built environment, while increasing our profession’s profile, with the aim of creating work opportunities for us all. Personally, I wanted us all to be agitators and leaders, putting our heads above the parapet, arguing loudly for better outcomes for our community, the built environment and ultimately for our profession.

We have achieved more than I could have imagined, through positive engagement with the community, politicians, universities, and most importantly working together with our built environment partners – the OGA, MBA, Consult Australia, Engineers Australia, PIA, AILA, AUDRC, Property Council, Department of Housing and the City of Perth. I thank them for their support.

Targeted and strategic lobbying and media engagement have helped us to raise the profile of our profession. This allowed us to affect real change in the public policy direction regarding:

  • Procurement;
  • Affordable housing;
  • Local government reform;
  • The embedding of the first stage of the suite of Design WA policies - the Apartment Design Policy – in the Western Australian planning system; and
  • We have supported successfully the retention of the Office of the Government Architect in recognition of their important role in the structure of government.

A refreshing outcome of this advocacy has been that the Institute is now being invited to sit at the table and asked for our opinion.

Education is where it all begins
It is imperative that we have a strong architectural education system. The Institute’s relationship with the existing architectural schools (UWA and Curtin) continues to grow. We have also strengthened our relationship with the University of Notre Dame, which will launch its new and exciting Masters of Architecture in 2019. We also acknowledge and congratulate Curtin University for its recent accreditation of the first completely on-line architectural course in Australia. Thank you to Joseli Macedo, Francesco Mancini, Kate Hislop, and Sarah McGann for your support. The opportunity to also engage with our SONA reps and the amazing and inspirational EmAGN group led by President Amanda Hendry has been a highlight. I know that our profession is in wonderful hands and has an amazing future with the insightful and talented leaders, academics, architects and graduates I have met and worked with over the past two years.

Equity and Diversity – The Elephant in the Room
Personally, I made a conscious decision to not focus on the elephant in the room that is equity and diversity for the first 6 months of my tenure. But do not be fooled. I am so proud and honoured to be the first woman President of the WA Chapter and truly appreciate the amazing support I have received from so many members. I was heartened by the support for our inaugural Parlour discussion, and inaugural 2018 International Women’s Day event with PIA and AILA. These events will be repeated in 2019 so please keep your diaries clear for 8 March 2019 for our second IWD event.

The Work Women Wisdom group was established in parallel to the Institute’s Gender Equity Taskforce here in WA to provide women architects of all ages with an opportunity to network, support and share stories about balancing work and family. Through our events we have been able to identify areas of concern including systemic discrimination for those registered architects taking parental leave and workplace culture issues. Through advocacy at ministerial level and with the ABWA, we can confirm that changes will be rolled out in 2019 to make the registration compliance requirements fairer for architects who wish to take extended parental leave.

My letter to all our members detailing some of the negative aspects of our profession’s workplace culture, the need for zero tolerance of any workplace harassment of architects and the importance of good HR policies was borne from our second #WWW event (a link to this letter is included here for anyone that missed it). I have been overwhelmed by the direct responses I received from senior architects pledging support. Let’s face, it bullying and harassment has no place at home or in the workplace.

Vale Iris Rossen FRAIA ARIBA
Late last year we lost an esteemed member of our profession in Iris Rossen, who passed away on 17 December. She was a prolific, dedicated and highly talented architect, as well as being a mother to 3 sons and 6 daughters and a grandmother of 18. Our thoughts are with her family as we remember fondly her contribution to the profession.
Vale Iris Rossen.

Thank You!
I feel incredibly privileged and humbled to have had the opportunity to be President and have truly grown as a person and an architect. This role has given me so many opportunities to help frame architectural dialogue at a national and state level, within the Institute, state and local government and at a grass roots level

When I started as President, I wrote that members were the heart of the Institute, and as my term comes to an end, I believe that more strongly than ever. The Institute is here to support you and fight for you.

I would like to thank our current and past Chapter Councillors for your support, and commitment. We have a council who is youthful, engaged, enthusiastic and representative. A big thank you also to all those who have volunteered on committees and advisory groups. While the President is the spokesperson, this is a team effort. I sincerely welcome our new Chapter Councillors and President, Peter Hobbs and know their energy and enthusiasm to make a difference will ensure our profession and our community is in good hands.

Finally, we have had a changing of the guard at the Chapter. We welcome Simon Barry our new Executive Director and thank outgoing ED Michael Woodhams for his service to the Chapter over the last 5 years. Personally, I thank Michael for his unwavering support and enthusiasm and welcome Simon a different but equally supportive ED who will be an asset to our Chapter. I would also like to thank both Kim Burges and Adriana Chiera for their professionalism, support and patience.

Finally thank you all for the opportunity of a lifetime!

I wish you all a happy and prosperous 2019.

Yours sincerely,



Meeting with Hon Peter Tinley, State Minister for Housing
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