With the inevitable and annual frenetic activity of November and December thankfully drawing to a close and summer holidays almost upon us, it would be appropriate to reflect upon 2023 and how much has been achieved by our Institute and our profession over the last twelve months.

Starting the year with government legislation proposed to remove all architect members from the ARBV board was a foreboding beginning, but after further dedicated advocacy and discussions with the state government, an outcome of a minimum of three architects or a third of the board, albeit reduced from half, was a positive outcome and an indication that the profession had been listened to.  These discussions also laid the basis for the development of a positive relationship with the Minister of Planning and Suburbs, the Hon. Sonya Kilkenny and her team of advisers and departmental heads of the Department of Transport and Planning.  Working to advocate and explain how Victoria’s built environment would benefit from a considered and designed approach and how architects can significantly contribute has been an underlying thesis of several meetings with the Minister over the year.  The Minister has been generous with her time with the Institute and we will continue to work hard at nurturing this important and constructive relationship.

Last week the Institute was invited to attend a Ministerial Round Table run by the Minister of Planning and Suburbs, DTP heads and the Minister’s advisers dedicated to developing the new Plan Victoria as the successor to Plan Melbourne.  The Minister had tentatively proposed five pillars for Plan Victoria: Housing Affordability, Equity and Jobs, Living and Thriving Neighborhoods, Sustainable Environments and Climate Action, as well as Self Determination and Caring for Country and over three hours the Institute along with assembled industry and community leaders provided commentary and responses to these pillars.

Across the year, and amidst the many Institute events such as the extensive awards programme with a record number of entries and our biggest awards night to date, the many forums and committees, ESD lean-ins and extensive CPD programme, we have also enjoyed a number of architectural conferences and symposiums from the Institute’s national conference ’Unprecedented’, Robin Boyd Foundation’s ‘Affordable Housing Matters’ Forum, Naomi Milgrim Foundation’s ‘Living Cities Forum’  and the University of Melbourne’s recent symposium on the important topic of ‘Retrofit’.  Throughout we have continued to meet regularly and work closely with relevant authorities and allied professional and interest groups.  These have included the State Building Surveyor Andrew Cialini and the Victorian Building Authority, Jill Garner, Victorian Government Architect and her leadership team, Chair of the ARBV, Giorgio Marfella and their CEO Glenice Fox, Paul Viney, President of the Victorian/Tasmanian Branch of the Association of Consulting Architects, Jamie Sormann and Phoebe La Gerche-Wijsman of Architeam, the Planning Institute of Australia and the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects as well as engagement with allied groups such as Tony Isaacson, chair of the Robin Boyd Foundation, Tania Davidge, CEO of Melbourne Open House, Timothy Moore , curator at NGV Melbourne Design Week, the Green Building Council and the Department of Treasury in regard to improving consultancy contracts.  The overwhelming ambience has been one of co-operation and a strong desire to work together for the betterment of the profession, the built environment and our community.

The work being undertaken by the Institute, by both paid staff and members volunteering their time, is immensely valuable to both the profession and to the wider community in the development of policy and strategies to enhance our built environment and to suitably fashion it for our combined future.  The Victorian Chapter Council and National Council elections are currently underway and it is a great indication of member interest and of democracy in action to see ten of our Victorian members nominating for the five vacancies on the Victorian Chapter Council and ten members from across Australia (including four Victorians) nominating for the two vacancies on National Council.  All of the issues effecting our profession are debated by these Councils and your views are best represented through Councillors you either know, have sympathetic perspectives or interests to yours, or with whom you can discuss these issues, to best represent your views.  Please support your fellow members who have nominated by reading their platform statements and voting accordingly.  Building relationships across our membership base and across our industry is a fundamental purpose of the Institute and I believe a strong Institute represented by elected Councillors well briefed on members’ views, makes our voice more relevant, clearer and audible to industry and to the community.

I trust you can all enjoy some time with your family and friends over the summer period as well as some well-earned rest and recuperation to recharge the batteries in preparation for an exciting year ahead.  I wish all members and their families a joyful and safe Christmas and New Year and look forward to seeing members actively involved in 2024, advocating for and enjoying our wonderful profession of architecture.


David Wagner FRAIA
President of the Victorian Chapter

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