OK, this year is getting ridiculous. If the unprecedented bush fire season wasn’t bad enough, the emergence of COVID-19 is making the summer of 2020 unlike anything we have ever witnessed. We are all threatened and at risk. While the risk to the young and healthy may not be extreme, the threat to our older population is significant, and can put a massive strain of our health system. While health and safety are paramount, we can also see the affect this going to have on our economic, cultural and social wellbeing.
As with the climate change discussion, the best advice we can take is quite simply that, the best expert advice available- from the doctors and scientists whose speciality is to understand the spread of infectious diseases within a community. As Dr Norman Swan explained, this takes us back to the days pre-antibiotics and modern medicine, when diseases were contained through quarantine and simple rules of hygiene.
The accepted mantra is to go hard and go early, and we are seeing an acceleration in the implementation of this. Non-essential meetings are being cancelled and personal space respected. Zoom session and remote working will become the norm for the foreseeable future. In all likelihood, we will be pleasantly surprised how efficiently this will work, we all spend too long in meetings anyway and remote working means peace and quiet. The collaborative element of our work will be the hardest thing to recreate, but certainly not impossible.
The Institute led the way last week and postponed the National Conference scheduled for Perth in May – a tough decision considering the hard work that the curators and our support staff had put in, but would have been worse if we’d delayed the decision. Similarly, the Venice Biennale and Dulux Study Tour have been postponed.
As of Monday, the Institute Chapters are postponing all face to face events and conducting all meetings virtually, but they are certainly not closed for business. Thankfully we completed the Awards jury presentations in last week (huge thanks to Sarah McGann, Lara Mackintosh and the team at Notre Dame for hosting a truly successful event). Latest advice is that jury site visits will be undertaken virtually, we are working hard to ensure that projects can be assessed in an appropriate way.
To reiterate: the WA Chapter and the Institute is still very much open for business. That business is just being undertaken via different ways. If anyone needs advice regarding setting up mobile work, maintaining wellness or sharing resources – contact the WA Chapter, they can already direct you to many great resources available. We are also accelerating the process of getting many services like CPD available to be streamed online – so keep an eye on the Institute web site.
This is a fluid and dynamic situation, and we need to be flexible and adaptive – rules made today may be adjusted tomorrow. Luckily, our profession is full of creative and lateral thinkers, and I’m sure we will find a way to cope.
WA Chapter President
Most of you have already received correspondence relating to how the Institute is responding to minimising the spread of COVID-19, as per the Commonwealth Government recommendations (more details: www.health.gov.au).
As well as continuing to follow updated Government advice, the Institute offices will be practising measures such as working from home, undertaking virtual meetings and reducing travel. All of our face-to-face events will be cancelled until May 29, pending review closer to this date.
What does this mean for you?
We are still here! Danielle and I are still working with limited physical time in the office. We are contactable via phone or email (preferred address: firstname.lastname@example.org) and will address all your specific concerns during this time.
We ask that you purchase contracts online, available: https://architecturecontracts.com.au/
If you are a volunteer, all committee meetings will still go on as planned via zoom (refer to zoom tips here). You will receive a zoom link embedded into the committee meeting invitation in due course.
Jury site visits will also be undertaken virtually. Please stay patient as we work to provide a consistent framework for this. We will schedule these in and provide outlook meeting invites with embedded zoom links (refer to zoom tips here).
The Presentation Evening, scheduled for 03 July, is currently unaffected by the outlined restrictions.
Rest assured a ‘Plan B’ is being formulated and we will go ahead either physically or virtually regardless.
We will ask all entrants to delay the delivery of presentation boards to 33 Broadway, Nedlands until June 2nd – the chapter will be in contact if anything changes.
CPD and Events:
All planned face-to-face CPD has been postponed until further notice. National virtual CPD will be available for streaming in due course. We have recently invested in zoom camera and speaker capability for our Chapter and will be investigating options for local events.
The National Conference, Venice Biennale and Dulux Study Tours have been postponed until further notice or as outlined on our website here.
All submissions and responses will be unaffected by the above restrictions. Meetings will be conducted virtually. Our Chapter Council, WA Advocacy Group and Committees will still be directly influencing outcomes through workshops, as required.
We will be working, alongside the Chapter President and Council, to provide you with additional resources to assist you in setting up for working from home, maintaining wellness and sharing resources. Stay tuned!
On behalf of the WA Chapter, I wish you all a positive, calm and healthy outlook.
State Manager – WA
Further member update with links to specific HR+ resources is available: https://www.architecture.com.au/about/national-covid-19-response/
The South Australian Chapter has also published the following article, which you may find useful:
COVID 19 Considerations for the Design and Construction Sector: https://www.architecture.com.au/news_media_articles/from-the-sa-ed-covid-19-considerations-for-the-design-and-construction-sector/