When viewed objectively the RAIA appears in good health. Ric Butt has achieved great things during the past year and has put in place many far-reaching initiatives. We are also well managed and have high quality professional staff who are all committed to helping the profession. As I start my term as National President I have to ask some inevitable questions: Is the Institute doing enough? Where can we improve? In what direction should we head?
After all the hard work and great achievements by the RAIA recently, there are a number of major policy issues that the RAIA must continue to address in order to ensure we are providing the profession with effective leadership. Some policy reviews have been instigated already and now require a commitment to complete the process. We need to understand & embrace change, to join in the process, and strive to lead it. At the same time we need to look at our influence and effectiveness within the community and industry, and aim to improve it.
The RAIA’s mission statement is “united we advance architecture”. While architects are the most competent designers striving to advance the cause of architecture, we are, however, not alone in producing architecture. The process of producing the built environment involves many partnerships. We need to consider being more inclusive of those with whom we share our ideals in order to make meaningful progress. We will be more effective in our mission as an Institute of Architecture rather than as an Institute of Architects.
Expanding our membership will help improve our relationship with industry and the community. It is vital that we strengthen these relationships and acknowledge changing perceptions and circumstances. Building long term relationships is just as essential on a client-architect level as it is on an industry-Institute level.
The current review of the architect’s acts around Australia is an example of a critical issue which requires us to mobilise all of our resources. If these reviews do not properly address the need to protect the public interest, they pose a serious threat to the cause of architecture. The public interest can only be served by ensuring our built environment is designed by competent skilled professionals at a competitive cost.
Whilst the Institute itself must face change, it is also essential for the profession as a whole to respond to change. Is the profession actively leading change (as we often urge our clients to do) or are we reluctantly following? We need to recognise that we have leadership skills and we must develop the confidence and support to use them more effectively in more diverse areas than just design. Whilst our well-proven design-studio approach to education (which should be strengthened) gives us unique knowledge and skills, we need also to review our education system to ensure it promotes breadth and diversity to encourage architects to grasp opportunities presented by change.
‘Embracing Change’ has been the theme of this column and it is also the underlying theme for the RAIA’s National Convention in Cairns later this year. I look forward to meeting you there.
Graham Humphries FRAIA
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