It is only three weeks into my term as National President, and already I have had the opportunity to meet some truly inspirational members of our profession, as well as to experience some exceptional programs and initiatives for the profession both here and overseas.
Although I have been actively engaged in the work of the Institute for some time, through my previous roles as WA Chapter President and National President Elect, it is an honour to serve as the National President for the next twelve months and I look forward to making a meaningful contribution with the support of Institute staff and my colleagues on National Council.
My first official engagement as President was to attend the Venice Architecture Biennale for the opening of the Australian exhibition, Augmented Australia 1914–2014. The Biennale offers a fantastic opportunity for the Institute to demonstrate Australia’s architectural talent to an international audience. A personal highlight for me was the number of Australians that were in Venice to share in celebrating the outstanding achievement of our creative directors felix._Giles_Anderson+Goad in producing such an amazing exhibition to represent Australia. The Biennale is well worth a visit and I encourage anyone who is contemplating travel over the next five months to try and schedule a visit to the Biennale in your itinerary.
There are a number of key issues that I am particularly interested in pursuing during my time in the President’s role. This includes advocating for a national roll out of similar planning regulation to that currently existing in NSW- SEPP65, which requires the use of architects to design multistorey residential apartment buildings. I have been advocating for similar legislation in WA and I am keen to work with the other chapters that are also pursuing similar legislative reform.
A complementary project that the Institute is working on with the Government Architects of NSW, Victoria and SA and RMIT University is researching the value of design which should help the Institute in advocating for SEPP 65 and good design outcomes for our communities.
In addition to advocacy, another area I will be focusing on is improving member engagement with the Institute. Last year National Council began a comprehensive review of our committee system. I know that the committee system is a key way in which our members engage with, and contribute to, their Institute and the voluntary nature of this contribution is highly appreciated. The review is a great opportunity to enhance the committee system to relate more directly to achieving the aims of the Institute’s strategic plan, to be more agile and responsive to the needs of the Institute and its members, to provide a range of avenues for member engagement and to improve communication across the Institute and its members. I will keep members informed as the committee review progresses.
In closing, I’d like to acknowledge Paul Berkemeier’s tenure as National President over the past year. In particular, his leadership on issues such as gender equity and diversity and architectural education, as well as setting in train the bid for the UIA 2020 Congress. I look forward to working closely with him in his new capacity as Immediate Past President.