I would like to welcome members back to the Institute and encourage your involvement in Institute events, forums and committees in 2024.  A reminder for those intending to enter this year’s Awards that the deadline is only a few days away on 5 February.

The recent Institute election was a great demonstration of the healthy interest by members in Institute activities and advocacy with eleven members standing for five available positions on the Victorian Chapter Council and a further ten members across Australia standing for two available positions on National Council.  I would like to congratulate new Victorian National Councillor Simon Knott, returning Victorian Chapter Councillors Aimee Goodwin, Nick Bourns and Mick Moloney as well as welcome new Chapter Councillors, Sarah Buckeridge and Maria Danos.  Well done to our new Councillors to make it to the respective representative tables and we look forward to your contributions in representing member’s views, working with fellow Councillors to develop policy and in advocacy for the Institute and the profession generally.  I would like to thank retiring National Councillors Jeremy McLeod and Jane Williams as well as retiring Victorian Chapter Councillors Sophie Cleland and Nadine Samaha who have all contributed significantly to the Institute during their time as Councillors. I would also like to thank all those who put their names up and were not successful and encourage them to find other ways to use their experience and energy to contribute. The variety of nominees’ platforms demonstrated the breadth of skillsets possessed by members as well as the issues impacting our profession, and provided plenty of choice for members to consider and vote accordingly.

As January already draws to a close I can report that the Institute has commenced engagement with a number of areas of government impacting members and our profession:

  • Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action:
    • Electrification: The Institute has met with Minister D’Ambrosio’s Climate Action advisers in a joint effort to promote the benefits of electrification with their Victorian Energy Upgrades Program and Solar Homes Program. The Department is currently preparing correspondence for members to outline the attributes and benefits of these schemes so Architects can be better equipped to convey this to clients.  Minister D’Ambrosio will also, along with departmental staff, present at our April 9 ‘ESD lean-in’ webinar on the issue of electrification and supporting government programmes, and how as architects we can engage with these programmes
    • Circular Economy: The Institute has met with DEECA officials as they propose to focus this year on how construction materials can be more significantly part of a circular economy. We are looking at how we can contribute to broadening the circularity in the construction sector
  • Department of Treasury and Finance: the Institute, together with the ACA, held a series of meetings with Treasury officials last year to convey the nature of problematic clauses within the Victorian Public Sector Consultancy Agreement (long and short forms) and how they impact services provided to government. There has been significant progress on the clauses discussed and this has led Treasury to advise in conversations this year that they are exploring rewriting the consultancy agreements with the intention of making the agreements more amenable to the market.  This is a large task, but certainly hugely encouraging news, and we will appraise you as further information becomes available.

The Institute is also actively involved with considering and responding to current Government policy interests:

  • Plan Victoria: The consultation on this major strategic planning document that will succeed Plan Melbourne has commenced with the Institute attending a Ministerial Round Table late last year closely followed by a Rescode review session to consider the codification of various aspects of Rescode. This consultation process will continue in the new year.
  • Port Philip Bay Coastal Hazard Assessment: The recently released report by DEECA is important reading for all, particularly for those members working close to the coast. Refer to DEECA webpage: https://www.marineandcoasts.vic.gov.au/coastal-programs/port-phillip-bay-coastal-hazard-assessment.  The well-publicised rising sea levels poses a clear danger to infrastructure and the built environment – in particular refer to the maps included on the website.  The Institute is looking to commence a Working Group to better understand the implications and advise government on appropriate responses
  • Housing Delivery Group: A Working Group was established last year to develop Institute policy in regard to the demand for more housing and in particular to be able to brief the Minister of Planning and Suburbs during a series of consultation meetings that were held across the year. The group next meets later this week and includes a number of members with significant multi-residential experience.  The intention now is to progress these ideas into a publishable Institute policy.

Climate Action is an important issue generally, and the Institute is now calling for members who wish to be involved in contributing and assisting on national and chapter advisory groups to make contact so we can make best use of the knowledge members currently have and to be able to broadcast to our wider membership strategies that best respond to the climate action emergency. Ruth Nordstrom is the National Climate Action Policy officer and is coordinating this process, but in the first instance contact the Chapter office, vic@architecture.com.au and you can be appropriately assisted.  I look forward to all members being involved in some way with the Institute this year to strengthen our profession and enjoy the benefits of membership.

David Wagner FRAIA
President of the Victorian Chapter

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