From the CEO – July 2013

Last week was a busy week in Canberra!

The Australian Award for Urban Design (AAUD) gala dinner was held at the National Portrait Gallery on June 25, with Ross Solly from ABC Canberra as MC. Australia’s premier awards for excellence in urban design saw three projects take out their respective categories: the ambitious plan to link the Canberra CBD with Lake Burley Griffin, Brisbane’s new Northern Busway and the upgrade of two Sydney laneways have become the nation’s best urban design projects for 2013. You can read more about the winners here.

The AAUD dinner preceded a very dramatic day in politics. With the sudden change of leadership, it is timely to consider what this and the as yet un-dated election mean for the profession. However, we are preparing to survey the major parties about our five policy priorities recently agreed by National Council as follows:

  • Sustainable Communities
  • Design Culture
  • Climate Change
  • Housing
  • Regulation and Red Tape.

These represent the broad concerns of our profession, which we are promoting as important public policy to improve the planning, design and delivery of more liveable, sustainable and productive communities. A more comprehensive list of our recommendations under these headings will be released in the near future. Working as architects we have chosen to play a role in helping shape the built form of our nation and as voters we each have an opportunity to determine which political party we believe best serves our country and the future of our towns and cities. By publishing the results of the survey responses from the major political parties, we aim to provide relevant information you need to help make an informed choice on  election day.

As you may recall, BEMP was originally scheduled for last Wednesday in Canberra. It is interesting to imagine what might have been! Perhaps rather fortuitously, the Institute and the other host organisations made the decision to focus on the future and engage with the nation’s next parliament, rather than embroil BEMP in any political jockeying. This will maximise the audience opportunity to speak to Australia’s latest next crop of political leaders about powerful strategies for boosting productivity, raising community dividends and nurturing sustainability.

Last week I also attended the Urban Policy Forum convened by the Department of Transport and Infrastructure, where much was discussed; including this year’s edition of the State of Australian Cities report, which will be launched 26 July on the Gold Coast. Detailing changes in urban population and settlement and examining indicators relating to productivity, sustainability and liveability, this edition delves a little deeper into the research and data. To illustrate the relevance and reach of the report, the 2012 edition was downloaded over 600,000 times. This is the fourth year that the report has been published and we welcome its continued production. It provides a comprehensive update on the state of our cities and plays an important role in maintaining the conversation about cities and their importance in our social, environmental and economic welfare.

Speaking of gathering data, our annual members’ survey functions as a regular feedback loop for the organisation. The most recent survey provided us with valuable quantitative data – the results informing the performance indicators which were included in the 2012 Annual Report. In addition, the survey invited members to provide qualitative feedback about the Institute. From these comments we have created for the first time a document that responds to the main issues raised grouped in a series of themes.

In closing, I wanted to also invite you, if you haven’t already, to explore our relaunched website. We want architecture.com.au to be the first port of call for anyone with an interest in or a question about architecture – whether they are a student, graduate, architect, a building industry professional, or a member of the public. The new website places all our products and services within easy reach, and promotes the architectural profession and the work of our members to the whole community. Explore our digital hub and let us know what you think!

Kind Regards,

David Parken


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