Policy and advocacy update

The Australian Institute of Architects promotes a clear and overarching goal to make the world a better place through architecture alongside a mission to develop and promote a strong architectural profession and be the public voice for architecture.

This recognises that to be truly effective, we first need to be heard. Only then can we play the role we need to play to shape Australia’s future in a positive way.

To this end, we have been working to strengthen our advocacy efforts to ensure we effectively communicate the value of architecture to the community and governments.

We have elevated the policy and advocacy role within the Institute to an executive function and are supporting more internal resources at the national and chapter level for policy and advocacy activities.

We are promoting policies and strategies to raise design standards in our cities and towns, to position Australia as an international design leader and to make Australia a better place for us all.

Along with formal submissions and feedback opportunities, we have focused on relationship building to maximise the impact of our advocacy endeavours, and we are working constructively with all levels of government, authorities and other industry groups.

Since our last update, we have engaged at the national, state and territory level on a wide range of issues.

Updates by chapter

Australian Capital Territory

Planning

ACT Chapter President Philip Leeson FRAIA led an Institute delegation that gave evidence to the Legislative Assembly Standing Committee on Economic Development and Tourism, Inquiry into Building Quality in the ACT. The Chapter welcomed recent work by the ACT Government to address construction quality issues including the delivery of new minimum documentation guidelines for building approval applications, a reinvigorated building inspection team and codes of practice for builders and building certifiers. The ACT Chapter also provided a detailed submission to the inquiry.

The ACT Chapter in cooperation with the Built Environment Coalition (ACT Property Council, Planning Institute, Master Builders Association ACT, Engineers Australia ACT, Consult Australia) provided a submission to the ACT Government’s City and Gateway Urban Design Framework for Northbourne Avenue.

The Built Environment Coalition including ACT Chapter representation met with the ACT Under Treasurer David Nicol to provide industry feedback on key elements needed in the ACT Government’s 10 Year Infrastructure Plan.

The ACT Government has announced the permanent establishment of the National Capital Design Review Panel. All buildings of five storeys or more built across Canberra must go before the panel under new laws coming into effect on 1 October 2019. Chapter Council were briefed by the ACT Government Architect on these changes and the ACT Chapter is also part of ongoing industry briefing sessions.

The ACT Chapter President and Executive Director continue to have quarterly meetings with the Planning Minister, Mick Gentleman MLA and liaison with heads of key government departments.

Cultural Heritage - ANZAC Hall

The ACT Chapter and National Office continue to advocate against the planned demolition of the Sir Zelman Cowen Award winning ANZAC Hall at the Australian War Memorial (AWM). The Institute has recently written to Mr Finn Pratt AO, Secretary Department of the Environment and Energy highlighting that the plan to demolish ANZAC Hall as part of a development proposal for the site, is not supported. The Institute outlined significant concerns about the process followed by the AWM in relation to heritage considerations for the project, in particular the extent to which the project has now progressed without the relevant heritage approvals in place.

Guardian journalist Paul Daley recently outlined community concern about the redevelopment in the article ‘We demean our history when we turn the Australian War Memorial into Disneyland‘.

Keep up to date with this issue, read the letter to the Department of the Environment and Energy and sign the petition to save ANZAC Hall here.

New South Wales

Planning

NSW Chapter President Kathlyn Loseby FRAIA has been leading initiatives to engage in the NSW government planning and building reform agenda through the coordination of a “Building Stakeholder Group” which includes Engineers Australia, Owners Corporation Network, Association of Accredited Certifiers, Association of Consulting Architects, Consult Australia, Property Council of Australia, Master Builders Association of NSW, Australian Institute of Building, Fire Protection Association Australia and Local Government NSW.

NSW Chapter President Kathlyn Loseby coordinated a meeting of this stakeholder group with Gavin Melvin, Chief of Staff and Harriet Platt-Hepworth, Policy Director from the Office of The Hon. Kevin Anderson MP, Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation in July 2019.

Ms Loseby has also met individually with the newly appointed Building Commissioner for NSW, David Chandler and is coordinating a future meeting of the Building Stakeholder Group with the Building Commissioner and officers from NSW Fair Trading.

The NSW Chapter provided a comprehensive submission to the NSW Fair Trading Building Stronger Foundations discussion paper and has also been represented on a number of NSW Fair Trading Focus Groups looking at issues related to the declaration of plans, registration and licensing as well as insurance coverage.

The NSW Chapter appeared at the NSW Legislative Council Public Accountability Committee, Inquiry into the regulation of building standards, building quality and building disputes in August 2019. The Institute was represented by Ms Kathlyn Loseby – President NSW, Ms Leanne Hardwicke – General Manager Policy, Advocacy and Education and Ms Kathryn Hurford – National Policy Manager, Institute of Architects.

The Committee warmly welcomed the Institute to the hearing and was interested in discussing the level of documentation required throughout the build process, the role of the Managing Architect and the potential role for a Clerk of Works, and the need to license all building professionals and tradespeople. The need for the newly appointed NSW Building Commissioner to also have a Commission was also discussed. The NSW Chapter provided a detailed submission to the inquiry.

The Chapter has also responded to the proposal and alternative proposal for the redevelopment of the Waterloo Estate. This is slated for development that will produce density equal to the highest levels found in Manhattan and Hong Kong, and higher than is found any part of London, Rome, Frankfurt, Barcelona or any other US city. The Chapter’s position recognises the need for and appropriateness of high density for this site and its recommendations for producing a successful masterplan for Waterloo Estate relate to scale and texture, amenity, and project delivery.

Regulation, Licencing and Registration

The NSW Chapter has been working in a wide range of fora to promote the need for a comprehensive and robust registration/licencing regime for everybody involved in the building chain, potentially modelled on the current registration regime for Architects underpinned by the Architects Act.

The Institute believes that all building practitioners including professional engineers, project managers, building designers; drafters and a wide range of tradespeople need to be brought under a regulatory regime and level playing field where all are required to hold public liability and professional indemnity insurance and demonstrate appropriate skills in line with clearly defined competency standards.

Cultural Heritage - Roxy Theatre, Parramatta and Regent Theatre, Mudgee

The NSW Chapter is continuing to advocate for the protection of two culturally significant theatres under threat from development applications. The Institute has written to local and state government to promote appropriate adaptive reuse of these buildings and to object to development proposals that neither adequately respect the theatres’ heritage nor realise their potential for contributing positively to the cultural life and fabric of their communities.

Procurement, Risk and Contracting

The NSW Chapter has been responding to issues with poor procurement practice within local and state government and is working with the Government Architect NSW to educate members about winning state government work.

This week international speaker Professor Laura Lee will address members about procurement from a global perspective and a CPD will address key issues in procurement, including a presentation on the Institute’s new EOI and RFT guidelines and how architects can use them to help educate clients about good practice.

Northern Territory

Planning

In the Northern Territory planning is a government, rather than council responsibility. As a result the Chapter has been engaging directly with each of the relevant Territory Government Department, rather than juggling a myriad of individual conversations with local Councils on planning issues. However, on a day to day level, the Chapter works constructively and closely with Councils to ensure that Architects can contribute positively across the Northern Territory.

The Northern Territory Planning commission released the central Area Darwin plan for comment earlier this year which covered substantial development issues in and around the Darwin CBD.  Although this covered many themes it also looked at surrounding areas that interact with the city due to the geography of Darwin.

The key area of focus as part of the Chapter response was sustainable development and how this is often not considered fully in residential development in the Northern Territory, as well as the need for any changes made to the Planning Act to support development in these areas.

The Chapter also noted that while mixed use developments across Australia are seen as a good option for opening up cities and providing feasible alternatives to infill development as well as good CPTED outcomes, this is an area that is controversial in the Darwin CBD particularly around green space and anti-social behaviour. Unless there are clear strategies in place to deal with both of these issues, people will continue to be reluctant to reside in a mixed use development. There also needs to be consideration in regards to walkability of the city and transport options i.e. public transport and parking.

Procurement, Risk and Contracting

There are significant levels of government contracting work in the Northern Territory and a key area of engagement between the Chapter and government is on procurement, where quarterly meetings are held with the department to discuss relevant issues.

The Chapter has also provided the Institutes Guidelines for EOI and RFT for architectural services to the planning department, and they were extremely well received.

Affordable Housing

The “Room to Breathe” program in the Northern Territory is developing housing in remote communities, which includes many challenges with the least being distance and accessibility. An additional problem is that these houses are ‘outside the building control zone’ so they do not need to comply with the building code.

The Chapter has met with the Minister for Housing, the Hon Gerald McCarthy as a matter of urgency on the decision from the Department of Housing to not include Energy Efficiency requirements as part of the program. This has the potential to lead to poor design outcomes and shortcuts and may mean that people cannot continue to live in the developed housing during extreme weather. Along the north coast which is prone to cyclones the houses are not built to the wind code and with regular and increasing cyclones liveability and survivability can be compromised.

There are also challenges in the consultation phase of the program including unworkable timeframes and drawing turnaround expectations from the Architect as well as immediate sign off from the participant (within an hour) which doesn’t allow time to consider the best outcome for the client. The Chapter will continue to work with the government while strongly advocating for the best outcome for Territorians.

Appointment of a Government Architect

The Northern Territory Chapter continues to lobby the government for the appointment of a Government Architect. The Territory is currently in a recession, and traction for the idea is currently limited due to this. The Chapter has also written a position description for a Government Architect and provided it to the Minister for consideration. The Chapter believes that have been some recent decisions made where a Government Architect could have given some sound advice, so the Chapter will continue to advocate for this position.

Education

The Northern Territory Chapter has been advocating for Charles Darwin University to expand their Architectural program for a number of years. Recently the Chapter was notified that an Architectural Design course would begin with the development to Masters and PhD programs over the next couple of years. The Chapter is very excited to work with the University on the development of the course and the opportunity to encourage people across the Territory, especially Indigenous students, to become Architects.

Queensland

Planning

The Queensland Chapter has written to the Hon. Cameron Dick, Minister for Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning to raise concerns on the Brisbane City Council proposal to introduce a Temporary Local Planning Instrument (TLPI) to immediately ban all forms of multiple dwellings, including town houses, apartments and triplexes from a large majority of Brisbane’s residential neighbourhoods.

Procurement, Risk and Contracting

The Queensland Chapter met with the Hon Mick de Brenni, Minister for Housing and Public Works and followed up with a letter confirming interest from the Institute in exploring further the issue of minimum fees for architectural services to ensure quality outcomes.

South Australia

Planning

The South Australian Practice Committee is providing advice to the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure as it develops a new suite of planning policies and a new Planning and Design Code.

Cultural Heritage - SHED 26

The South Australia Chapter has focused attention on the role of protecting cultural heritage and the need for clarity and consideration of heritage and public space including the release of a statement and published media on the demotion of Shed 26 in Port Adelaide.

In the lead up to the demolition, Chapter President Tony Giannone also added his signature to an open letter calling for the planned demotion to be halted.

The Chapter President has also further published his thoughts on the role of protection of cultural heritage in an article which has been widely shared in social and print media.

Procurement, Risk and Contracting

The South Australia Practice Committee continues to engage with the State Government on procurement, in particular the development of a “Framework for Staged Service Delivery”.

Tasmania

Planning

The Tasmanian Chapter has met with Alex Woodward, Acting Manger Property, Environment and Waste at Glenorchy City Council on issues related to the GASP! Precinct (Glenorchy Art and Sculpture Park). The discussions have centred on issues related to the sale of land parcels which include public walkways and pavilions of high architectural value.

The Chapter provided feedback on the Property Council of Australia Tasmanian Division’s report, Removing the Regulatory Handbrake: Seven steps to fix Tasmania’s housing supply. Comments on the report included support for the streamlining and acceleration of planning approvals, the need to finalise the Tasmanian Planning Scheme, action to encourage inter city housing development and transit corridors and the strength of the Hobart City Deal as a framework to support Hobart as it grows as a vibrant, liveable capital city.

The Chapter is looking forward to working with the City of Hobart and the Tasmanian Government in their development of a Central Hobart Precincts Plan, through the Hobart City Deal.

Regulation, Licencing and Registration

The Tasmanian Chapter has been working collaboratively with the Department of Treasury and Finance on changes to the prequalification scheme for mandatory Quality Assurance from second party to third party for projects over specific values.

Work continues on the Gap Reform of the Architect’s Act 1929 with the Board of Architects Tasmania and the Chapter has also provided formal submission on the Draft Building Services Providers Licensing Determination prepared by the Tasmanian Department of Justice.

The Chapter noted a number of changes that needed be made to the draft determination and called on the professional standards and continuing professional development conditions being proposed to match the requirements for registered architects practicing in Tasmania as set out by the Board of Architects Tasmania.

Procurement, Risk and Contracting

The Tasmanian Chapter continues to work with government and organisations on procurement issues. A good working relationship has been established with the Burnie City Council after a number of positive changes were made to their Architects Services Brief for the North West Museum and Art Gallery, and an Institute member is now acting as an independent technical advisor to Council’s Tender Panel.

Tas Chapter President, Shamus Mulcahy, and Chapter Executive Director, Jennifer Nichols, have had several meetings with University of Tasmania Vice-Chancellor, Rufus Black, to discuss procurement processes, and this relationship is ongoing.

Affordable Housing

The Tasmania Chapter has provided advice on the Tasmanian Government’s Affordable Housing Strategy 2015 – 25, Action Plan One (2015 – 19) and Action Plan Two (2019-203) through engagement with Richard Gilmore, Director Portfolio and Supply Unit, Communities Tasmania.

Action Plan One is now complete and Action Plan Two has commenced, taking the total investment by the Tasmanian government to nearly $200 million over eight years. This will result in a total of 3600 households assisted under both Action Plans, including the new supply of 2400 affordable lots and homes.

The Tasmanian Chapter has discussed immediate priority projects that require architectural services under Action Plan Two and exemptions to the Department of Treasury and Finance Treasurers Instructions on procurement as well as the impact of the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement on Tasmanian government procurement.

The Chapter also responded to a Department of Treasury and Finance plan to make publicly available the list of architects (contractors and consultant) prequalified to undertake work for the Tasmanian government.

Victoria

Planning

CONSULTATION WITH DELWP (Department of Land, Water and Planning)

BUILDING BETTER APARTMENT STANDARDS – PHASE 2 representatives Tim Westcott, Annie McIntyre and Stuart Grigg held a public consultation at the Institute on the Better Apartments in Neighbourhoods discussion paper, as a part of the Building Better Apartments project. Feedback is being sought on the proposed external amenity standards for apartment developments. The Institute, PIA and AILA, collaborated and workshopped their respective feedback submissions, ensuring our shared concerns are heard.

SMART PLANNING PROGRAM – Rick Dixon – Director, Smart Planning Program, DELWP and Victorian Chapter Council representatives recently met to discuss detailed proposals for new permit application assessment pathways and codes. Further consultation will take place in early 2020, with emphasis on the proposed VicSmart Plus – a new assessment pathway to accommodate straightforward applications that are too complex for VicSmart but should not require the full 60 day Merits Assessment process.

Heritage

Federation Square was added to the Victorian Heritage Register on 26 August 2019. The Australian Institute of Architects Victorian Chapter welcomed the Heritage Council’s decision that recognises, values and upholds the significance of this iconic site.

There have been several active members engaging with the issue of Federation Square, including representation from many varying voices and opinions; however, it is important to recognise the tireless efforts of members such as Tania Davidge for her passionate advocacy surrounding the significant role Federation Square plays within our public realm. You can read the determination here.

Cladding

MEETING WITH CLADDING SAFETY VICTORIA – In early October 2019 Adrian Stanic – Director, Lyons Architecture, Cameron Frazer, Business Manager, Hayball and Amy Muir met with Dan O’Brien, CEO of the newly formed Cladding Safety Victoria, to share their combined views on the proposed processes and associated competencies required for the rectification projects.

Cladding Safety Victoria works with owners and owners’ corporations to help them rectify non-compliant cladding by providing support, guidance and connections to appropriately registered and qualified practitioners. 

Representatives from the Institute extended an offer to assist CSV in their capacity of architects – the ‘Review Panel’ phase. We are very keen to work broadly and collaboratively with CSV, Owner Corporations, consultants and contractors to facilitate collective and constructive change with a focus on delivering safe and quality-built environments for the public and consumers at large. You can find out more about Cladding Safety Victoria here.

PROCUREMENT, RISK AND CONTRACTING

INSURANCE

The Institute recently met with Planned Cover representative; Wendy Poulton, Manager Risk Services. In attendance was representatives from Medium Practice Forum, EmAGN, Practice of Architecture Committee, Adam Toma, CEO – ARBV, Julia Cambage and Amy Muir to discuss key issues in relation to insurance and novation.

 

NOVATION FORUM

The Victorian Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects in partnership with the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) and the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA), held a Novation Forum at Brickworks on 21 August in response to the National Novation Survey – Victorian Report.

The discussion centred around the survey results and highlighted the benefits of novation and some of the issues that are being raised in procurement that are affecting the safety and quality of our built environment.

A lively and long discussion unfolded supporting the importance of a transparent process and the need for reform.

The forum included a panel discussion between:

  • Client Representative – Peter Lochert, Secretary, Department of Parliamentary Services, Parliament of Victoria;
  • OVGA – Jill Garner, Government Architect;
  • Architect – Tim Leslie, Studio Director Bates Smart;
  • Legal Representation – Jeanette Barbaro, Partner MinterEllison; and
  • Contractor – Ben Brown, Head of Design and Project Management Lend Lease

The forum was moderated by Amy Muir and we were joined by Australian Institute of Architects CEO Julia Cambage, Planning Institute of Australia Victorian President Laura Murray, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects Victorian President Heath Gledhill, Wendy Poulton from Planned Cover and Bronwyn Weir co-author of the Shergold Weir Report.

 

NATIONAL NOVATION SURVEY

In April this year, we conducted our nation-wide Novation Survey, spearheaded by our Victorian Chapter through the Large Practice Forum. It was seeking data and input from members into the pitfalls and positive outcomes of this procurement model.

For Victoria the survey covered 71 architectural practices and 158 projects delivered between 2009 and 2019. The survey found that the growing prevalence of novation as a procurement model for how buildings are constructed is a contributing factor to deteriorating construction outcomes, with flow on impacts to the community and consumers.

The survey results revealed that this is not simply speaking to a procurement method but rather highlighting the risks associated with unfair and inequitable contractual arrangements.

Work is currently being undertaken to understand what these contractual arrangements are and to highlight the detrimental impacts they are having on the effective procurement of our built environment.

We would like to thank all our members who contributed their time and resources to completing the survey and providing such valuable information that forms the basis for this body of research. This project also could not have been undertaken without the significant contribution made by Tim Leslie, Clare Cousins, Jeremy Schluter, Michaela Sheahan, Leanne Hardwicke, Wendy Poulton and David Islip. At a broader level thank you to the Large Practice Forum members and in particular, to our Ambassador firms who provided guidance and input. These include Bates Smart, Cox Architects & Planners, Hassell, John Wardle Architects, Lyons, Woods Bagot, the OVGA and Planned Cover. It has been wonderful to see the collective input of many.

You can read the results here

 

CODE OF NOVATION

The survey results have provided us with enough information to begin the next phase of the research and to reach out to other professional bodies and industry associations to explore the development of an industry-wide code of novation.

The survey also highlighted the overwhelming support for a Code of Novation with 83 per cent of respondents requesting its introduction.

To define what form this might take, work has commenced with the ARBV, Planned Cover and the Victorian Large Practice Forum Ambassador Firms including Bates Smart, Hassell, DCM, John Wardle Architects, Cox and Woods Bagot have been working to develop the Code of Novation working document. It is intended that this will inform a national Code of Novation.

 

MEETING WITH MINISTER WYNNE

Off the back of our meeting with Minister Wynne on the 28 February 2019, The Victorian State Presidents from PIA, AILA and the Institute are meeting with Minister Wynne on 6 November to present the National Novation Survey – Victorian Report, a Code of Novation working document, our research into unfair and inequitable contractual arrangements and Better Apartment Standards planning accountability.

 

WE HAVE RECENTLY MET WITH

  • OPV; Dr Collette Burke – Victorian Chief Engineer, Tim Mumford, Senior Project Manager, OPV, Laura Murray – President, PIA, Carmel McCormack – Victorian and Tasmanian, Executive Officer, PIA, Health Gledhill – President AILA and Amy Muir met for a round table discussion on novation and future joint initiatives with AILA, AIA, PIA and OPV.
  • VBA; newly appointed Andrew Cialini, State Building Surveyor, Angelina Pillai – CEO, ACA, Paul Viney – Director, FFPV Architecture and Amy Muir met for a valuable discussion on the Novation Survey Results and how the organisations collaborate. VBA have now shared the Victorian Report with their research division. Read more here.
  • OVGA; monthly meetings with representatives from the OVGA including Jill Garner – Victorian Government Architect, Stefan Preuss – Associate Victorian Government Architect, OVGA and Amy Muir. These meetings provide an opportunity to collaborate on advocacy and strategy.
  • PIA and AILA.; monthly meetings with representatives from PIA and AILA including Laura Murray – President, PIA, Carmel McCormack – Victorian and Tasmanian, Executive Officer, PIA, Heath Gledhill – President AILA, Martha Delfas – Victorian Events and Development Manager, AILA and Amy Muir to discuss general issues faced within the industry and how they can be addressed as a collective.
  • ARBV; monthly meetings with Adam Toma – CEO, Amy Muir and Michael Linke. As the regulatory body, the ARBV can provide critical guidance and advice on the Institute’s advocacy work. Collaborating on projects such as reform to the Architects Act and general regulatory and compliance issues.

Global Climate Strike

The Global Climate Strike was held on Friday 20 Sep. The Institute publicly endorsed the strike in an email to members on Friday 6 Sep as part of our commitment to act on the climate and biodiversity emergency.

As part of the Institute’s pledge, we supported our staff by arranging time off in-lieu for Institute staff wanting to attend their local strike. Read more about our friends at Architects Declare Australia here.

Western Australia

Planning

The Western Australia Chapter has been working to build collaborative relationships with officers from the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage, including early work to establish a series of workshops and forums to facilitate member participation in ‘Design WA’, a State Government initiative to ensure good design is at the centre of all development in Western Australia.

Stage One activity as part of the ‘Design WA‘ reform has been focused on apartments while supplementary stages will include Precinct Design and Medium Density planning policy. The Chapter has been actively engaged in championing the role of architects as the reform agenda has progressed. 

An Action Plan for Planning Reform has also been recently released in Western Australia. The Western Australia Chapter will participate in the associated reference and working groups and will push for reform that reduces red tape and provides a planning system that is consistent, coherent and efficient.

The Western Australia Chapter has also met with the Hon Peter Tinley AM, Minister for Housing, Veterans issues, Youth and Asian Engagement and Mr John Carey, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier; Minister for Public Sector Management; State Development, Jobs and Trade; Federal-State Relations, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Transport and Planning.

National

National Campaign Update - Best Practice Procurement of Architectural Services

The procurement of architectural services has been identified by members as a key policy priority and research was undertaken to investigate best practice EOI and RFT methods in public sector and educational institutions that commission architectural services.

The research looked into the current experiences and perceptions of architects and clients and includes analysis of industry and government policy documents, interviews with government and institutional clients, and an online survey of Institute members.

The research enabled the Institute to develop a set of Guidelines for EOI and RFT for architectural services endorsed by the Office of the Victorian Government Architect. The objective of the guidelines is for potential clients to review their own EOI and RFT methods and documents and align them with best practice to enable an effective and efficient process that maximises the potential for high quality built outcomes and reduces bidding and assessment costs for all.

The Guidelines for EOI and RFT for architectural services are also under consideration by the Office of the New South Wales Architect and the Queensland Chapter met recently with and presented the Hon. Mick de Brenni Minister for Housing and Public with a copy of the guidelines. The Chapter has formally sought endorsement from the Minister and the Queensland Government Architect for the adoption of the guidelines by relevant government agencies for the future procurement of architectural services.

National Campaign Update - Novation

The Institute has undertaken a national survey of its members on novation as a procurement method. While novation can create a positive outcome and is supported by the architectural profession, the results of the survey identify some issues.

At this time, only Victorian state-based results have been released, ahead of the broader national results. For Victoria, the survey covered 71 architectural practices and 158 projects delivered between 2009 and 2019.

The Victorian Survey identified ten key outcomes, both positive and negative on the use of novation as a procurement method. The eleventh, and final outcome confirmed support for an industry-wide code of novation. This was favoured by 83% of respondents, who believed that a code would be beneficial in improving the quality of projects delivered through novation.