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Peter Hobbs - WA Chapter President

A couple of months into this new job, and I must say, my head is spinning. The range and scope of activity our Chapter covers are quite extraordinary. From our various committees that examine everything from procurement, education standards, planning reform, gender equity, density, built form guidance, heritage and BIM, to organising our CPD, the work load for our Councillors, but particularly for our permanent staff, is diverse and hectic.

On top of this, we are organising jury’s (herding cats), venues, displays and of course our night of nights- the 2019 Awards.

And then of course- there’s our advocacy….

This variety of output is a reflection of our industry- diverse, fast paced, commercial, more than a little cut throat, but also at its core, ethical and responsible.

My first National Council meeting was in Canberra last month and was indeed eye opening. It was great to meet other Chapter Presidents and of course our new CEO Julia Cambage. Julia visited Perth last week, and I think represents a new era in the Institute. Julia’s priority is to increase the focus on undertaking the research that underpins our advocacy. This is important, as it means we can take hard data to government and clients, rather than talking in generalities. Julia is also on a mission to centralise knowledge, and to make sure the activities of various state committees is focused and co-ordinated. There is no point being a national organisation of state and territory chapters if this combined horsepower is not harnessed. 

We look forward to being actively involved in the Institute’s transformation. 

At the National level, a major piece of work is underway to review memberships, in particular, how to become more inclusive and broaden participation. At the centre of this is to a focus on a membership review including memberships fees for affiliates, part timers like returning parents, and to get the A+ membership category to be more reflective of actual employee numbers (I think you all know what I mean by this)! 

To this end, you would have all received an invitation to participate in a Membership Survey that seeks your input into what you want from the Institute and examines membership issues. Please participate as this is a real opportunity to have your say and actively participate in the decision-making process.

Our chapter committee system is also up for review. We are asking committees to review their terms of reference, and to outline a focused agenda for their activities. I sometimes get asked by members about how to get involved in committees - please ring Kim or myself. 

From an advocacy point of view, procurement of Architectural services is still top of mind, and with the assistance of some work commissioned at a national level, and undertaken by Hassell, a really good paper and strategy has been developed. We will focus on projects let by Local Government, as poor briefing and inconsistent tendering is a perennial complaint.

Before concluding, I would comment that the single biggest threat to our profession is from within. We regularly hear stories of fee under-bidding of more than 25%. If we held a construction tender and the lowest bid came in 25% lower than the rest, we would advise our clients against it as unacceptable risk. The same should apply to the provision of our services. I’m suggesting a fee pledge that we all need to be prepared to stick to- our Practice Note #8- albeit a little out of date, is still relevant.

Lastly, I’ll take this opportunity to thank Suzie Hunt for her amazing contribution as Chapter President. I think we all agree Suzie set a gold standard - I have some large shoes to fill!

Peter Hobbs FRAIA



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