From the National President

National President, Ken Maher. Photo by Brett Boardman

April 2017

Next week is our annual opportunity to get together as a profession for the 2017 National Architecture Conference PRAXIS, which features a rich line-up of international and local talent along with a joint Super Session with the Planning Institute of Australia; the announcement of the 2017 Gold Medal; an extensive fringe program and much more.

If you haven’t already registered, there is still time, visit the website for all the details and I look forward to joining many of you in Sydney for the Opening Party on the 4th followed by two days of stimulating engagement – not to mention all the fringe activities.

With cities central to much current public debate, the Super Session will be an interactive provocation exploring the future of our cities from holistic strategies through to the experiential exploration of how planners, urbanists and architects can collaborate to be more effective in engaging with our communities and politicians to secure a better future. Social media and 24/7 connectedness has fundamentally changed the way individuals engage and express views on these contemporary issues. The big question is how can the professions strengthen our collective influence to focus the debate? This discussion will be facilitated by Tina Perinotto from The Fifth Estate, international and local participants include Rahul Mehrotra, Sylvia Karres, Prathima Manohar, Julian Bolleter and Graham Jahn.

On the critical issue of cities, the Institute welcomes the recent announcement by Angus Taylor, the Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, that he has formed a Cities Reference Group to provide innovative, expert advice to support delivery of the Australian Government’s Smart Cities Plan. The Smart Cities Plan sets out the Australian Government’s vision for our cities and will guide action across portfolios to deliver better outcomes for our cities and the people who live in them. It also seeks to bring together all levels of government, working with local communities and businesses, to identify what we need to do today so that our cities succeed in the future. The Reference Group includes representatives from across industry, the research community and non-government groups and I have been invited to represent the Institute and will be advocating the importance of architecture, sustainability and public realm design.

Last week we issued the Notice of AGM and the 2016 Annual Report along with details of a special resolution that will be tabled for vote.

Following on from last year’s successful amendments to our Memorandum and Articles of Association (M&AA) which saw the introduction of a Board of Directors, we are proposing additional changes that will further bring our Constitution in line with best practice governance.

The amended documents are written in plain English so they are simpler and easier to understand and be used. Amendments do not reduce the current rights and interests that members have in the Institute and include changes that better reflect our activities and support registration for a tax-exempt charitable status with the Australian Charity and Not-for-Profit Commission. The proposed constitutional documents are fully compliant with the Corporations Act 2001.

This special resolution to amend the Institute’s current M&AA under Article 87 presents the opportunity for every Corporate Member to use their voting rights to adopt a better Constitution and take another step towards a more effective and transparent Institute. I encourage you all to visit the website and review the proposed changes and make your vote count.

Education has been an integral part of the Institute’s core function as the peak body for the profession and drives our current direction as one of our key strategic pillars. The Institute has been involved in accreditation of tertiary level architecture programs since the inception of accreditation, and undertakes this jointly with all State and Territory Registration Boards through the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA).

In 2016 the Institute agreed to bring forward the scheduled 2018, and much needed, review of the accreditation procedures (known as the ANZ APAP) in response to a request from other participating members. Subsequently, we provided a representative to the ANZ APAP Review Group, which undertook the first stage review. The Final Report was released in June 2016, however due to significant concerns regarding a number of the recommendations, our National Council was unable to sign off on the report.

The Institute argued strongly that a further period of review was required prior to implementation of the revised procedure to address the concerns regarding the recommendations. The ANZ APAP Development Group, with a membership of five representatives from key stakeholders including the Institute, was formed with secretariat support provided by the AACA. At our recent National Council meeting, the Institute resolved to withdraw from the Development Group on the basis that it could not support the outcomes of the review process. We remain committed to supporting effective accreditation reform, this includes continuing to manage and deliver the current ANZ APAP procedures, until a mutually acceptable revision is agreed.

This column is my final as National President. On 16 May I will be handing over to my friend and colleague Richard Kirk. I know Richard will provide outstanding and incisive leadership and I will be delighted to support him and fellow national councillors in my role as Immediate Past President.

It has been a demanding yet rewarding experience, representing all of you who make up our diverse and committed profession. I certainly could not have done it without the warm friendship and support of my colleagues. I am in awe of the dedication and time so many architects selflessly give to our Institute and would also like to sincerely thank Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Cunich and the staff at the Institute, who work with enthusiasm supporting the interests of members through delivering an extensive program of activities. Thank you also to all my fellow councillors and our new board, to our generous corporate partners and to you our members, as we work together on strengthening our Institute.

Ken Maher

National President