From the National President

Clare Cousins


28 May 2018

Tomorrow marks two weeks since my inauguration as the Institute’s 79th National President and in this, my first message to members, can I once again thank you for this extraordinary privilege. It is from you that the Institute derives both its purpose and strength. Your time volunteering, your expertise and most of all your passion – strengthens our profession immeasurably.

I look forward to collaborating with you over the next 12 months to leverage our collective capacity for the good of architecture and the clients and communities we support.

But I’m conscious that this time will pass by in the blink of an eye, so I am determined to seize this opportunity with both hands.

That’s why we are hitting the ground running, taking the Institute’s respected position and substantial legacy of achievement and building on it. I want to look back on my time in this role and be proud that together we have made a difference.

Action and change
Achieving this ambition means sharpening our advocacy sword to enable us to cut through the politics and see projects implemented that have social conscience, quality and exceptional design as their backbone.

Effecting real change means engaging in genuine consultation and following sound process. We will do this in our approach to the membership, with inclusivity as our guiding principle, and seek to hold government and other decision-makers to the same high standards.

Membership review
I’m keen to ensure that the Institute remains relevant and inclusive to the diverse range of members that constitute our profession. In order to do this, we will be reviewing and redefining our membership offering this year to reflect the different voices and life situations of architects, graduates and architecture students.

ABIC contracts and bank lending conditions
The lending conditions imposed by banks for domestic building work have become increasingly problematic. Lenders not recognising the ABIC contract and bank imposed staged payments are detrimentally affecting our members, building contractors undertaking the work and the clients commissioning the projects.

I recently convened a meeting with the Master Builders Association, Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors and Australian Institute of Building Surveyors to better understand the issues from the broader industry’s perspective regarding lending conditions. We are looking to approach the banking sector collectively as a united voice with the intent of achieving a better outcome…They could certainly do with a good news story at the moment!

Board composition
At our National Council meeting in March, elections were held to select the Institute’s Board of Directors. I would like to congratulate Helen Lochhead, who was appointed National President Elect, and nationally elected councillors Vanessa Bird and Justin Hill, who join the Board for 2018–2019. Following our annual general meeting (AGM) in May, Andrew Broffman, former Northern Territory Chapter President, was reappointed to the Board by National Council as an interim independent director. I would like to extend our sincere thanks to former independent director Sarah Richardson, who stepped down at the AGM. Sarah was one of our inaugural independent directors and over almost two years provided much guidance on good governance, transparency and culture.

I would like to acknowledge the immense contribution made by my predecessors, Richard Kirk (Immediate Past President) and Ken Maher (departing Director), who have worked tirelessly to serve the best interests of our members during their terms as president. I look forward to their support as I take up the baton and build on the legacy that they have both left.

Venice Biennale Architettura
How to describe the indescribable? This international festival is without parallel and unquestionably one of the most influential and wide-reaching platforms on which to showcase architectural excellence. I was fortunate to join hundreds of Australians in Venice last week for the opening of the Australian Pavilion. The curators have accomplished a truly inspiring exhibition with Repair. For the next six months, Australian architecture will enjoy exposure on a global stage. More than two hundred thousand people from around the world visited the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2016, which gives a sense of the scale this opportunity provides the profession.

National Conference
The countdown is well and truly on and this year’s national conference, edge, will be here before we know it. As our biggest event of the year, the conference is an opportunity to be immersed in two days of architecture, to professionally learn from others and to reflect on our own work.

If you haven’t registered there is still time – June 6-8 on the Gold Coast – please click here for more information. 

It is also a chance to catch up with colleagues and I look forward to seeing many of you there.


Clare Cousins
National President