From the National President

Clare Cousins


21 Jan 2019

A warm welcome back to all of our valued members as we launch into 2019 and an ambitious program for the year ahead.


Our first order of business, after a specialist national search, was the appointment of Julia Cambage as the Institute’s Chief Executive Officer. With more than two decades of CEO experience, a strong entrepreneurial nature and outstanding commercial acumen, Julia will further enhance the Institute’s capacity to deliver even more for members, be it on the advocacy, events or professional development front. And as we move into the second year of implementing our strategy, there is a comprehensive program of work underway on each.


With elections fast approaching in NSW and federally, the strength of our advocacy continues to grow as we tackle critical issues of concern not only to the profession but also, the broader community.

Building safety and the adequacy of Australia’s regulatory environment when it comes to the built form are once again in the spotlight with Opal Tower in Sydney’s West continuing to dominate headlines and disrupt the lives of residents.

Next month marks a full year since our nation’s state, territory and Commonwealth building ministers were handed the Shergold-Weir report, Building Confidence, and its recommendations for reform. We have been vocal in our support for the much-needed improvements to the National Construction Code – and compliance with it – together with the other measures.

Disappointingly, there has been slow and meagre progress by governments in heeding the call for action. While investigations continue into the specifics of the issues at Opal Tower, what is clear is the urgent need for governments to pick up the pace of reform.

Next month we will be hosting a breakfast briefing for MPs and Senators at Parliament House in Canberra to ensure policies around housing affordability and the design of our cities are front and centre ahead of this year’s early Budget and the election campaign commencing.

The integrity of the competitions process and the need to champion and protect our public architecture remain priorities with further activities being planned for the #handsoffAnzacHall campaign. If you haven’t signed up to show you support yet, you can do so here.

The campaign is just one of many ways that architects can be activists, agents of change, which is the concept at the heart of this year’s National Conference. Collective Agency, which will be held from 20 to 22 June in Melbourne promises to be a powerful gathering full of passion with offerings for practices both large and small. Creative Curators Monique Woodward of WOWOWA and Stephen Choi of the Living Future Institute of Australia are hard at work on a program and line up of speakers that will be sure to impress so stay tuned for updates in the coming months and get in early with your registration.

A highlight of the calendar each year is our prestigious National Architecture Awards program with entries for the Regional and Chapter Awards now open. Key dates are published online so don’t miss your chance to celebrate excellence and all that is exceptional across the profession.

Digital transformation
A key pillar of the Institute’s strategy was a far-reaching transformation of the Institute’s digital systems, designed to build capacity and significantly enhance members’ online experience. The initial stages of this project have already been delivered, including the redeveloped Acumen Practice Notes, and we are advancing the new website project. This will also be a valuable tool to better promote the profession.

A quick reminder that membership renewals are now due. If you haven’t already done so make sure you renew before 1 Feb to ensure you don’t lose access to your benefits. To support our next generation of practitioners and design professionals, we’re pleased to be able to offer our student members annual SONA membership for an affordable $30. As an exciting new addition for 2019 we have also opened up eligibility to students in an architecture related course (such as landscape architecture, engineering, planning, interior design, urban design or environmental design) in Australia.

Wishing you all the best for a wonderful year ahead.

Clare Cousins
National President