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    Institute reveals new policy framework; seeking feedback from members

    The National Council of the Australian Institute of Architects is seeking the opinion of members on a broad range of issues impacting the industry to help gain clarity on the way forward.

    AIA is currently reviewing their existing policies in consultation with members to determine what can be retained and what needs to be updated based on their importance. This focus on advocacy will ensure AIA can offer a collective view on many issues.

    AIA is sending out the Annual Members’ Survey this week providing members an opportunity to shape opinion on a number of relevant issues.

    The Institute is already focusing on some issues that were bubbling up from last year. These include:

    BUILDING QUALITY

    In the ACT, the government is undertaking a review of the quality of buildings. We have a working group, led by the Chapter President and the ACT Practice Committee, putting together a response to government. We have asked all members’ views on the issues raised in the government discussion paper, and we are holding an industry forum to assist in formulating our response.

    EDUCATION

    The National Education Committee is reviewing our education policy, and drafting an advocacy statement, outlining what we want from government so we continue to produce high quality architecture graduates.

    SUSTAINABILITY RATING FRAMEWORK

    Incoming National President, and President of Australia Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC), Ken Maher released the National Framework for Residential Ratings – Discussion Paper. The paper and policy platform calls for a new nationally consistent rating framework for housing sustainability. With housing being responsible for 13 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, improving the sustainability of our housing stock is crucial to meeting Australia’s targets for emissions reduction.

    The policy platform points out that right now, there is no coherent national framework for rating housing sustainability. Instead, a plethora of ratings and measurement tools make things complex for industry professionals and incomprehensible to consumers. The platform calls for governments to work with the building industry to implement a nationally harmonised sustainability ratings framework for houses.

    The framework should consist of three key elements: minimum regulatory performance standards in new buildings; benchmarks for market comparison of best practice sustainability performance; and communication messages explaining the value of sustainability features to renovators and homebuyers. For further information, please go to the ASBEC website, at http://www.asbec.asn.au/

    REGULATION OF ARCHITECTS

    Regulation of architects is a big topic in the Northern Territory at the moment. Government has proposed that it move to an administrative licensing model, which will include repeal of existing legislation. A single industry board will be created (advisory in nature only) which will include an architect representative. Disciplinary and review inquiries will be undertaken by the new Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT).

    We are still working through the details and having meetings to ensure that current consumer protection and standards for the practice of architecture are maintained or enhanced by the changes.

    HIGH DENSITY LIVING

    A draft policy for this national task group was submitted to National Council at the end of last year. A new draft has been prepared for discussion with the task group in response to comments by National Council.

    NSW GOVERNMENT ARCHITECT'S OFFICE

    The NSW Government has proposed the refocusing of the office, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year, to enable it to provide strategic whole-of-government design advice. The Institute supports this proposition, and the relocation of the office within the Planning portfolio, but has objected to a proposal to substantially reduce its staffing levels.

    CIRCULAR QUAY

    Following the NSW Premier’s announcement of a new design for the Circular Quay wharves, an op-ed was prepared advocating a holistic review of design improvements to the precinct and the implementation of a strategy prepared by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority.

    SIRIUS BUILDING

    The NSW Chapter has vigorously opposed the NSW Government’s removal of longstanding public housing residents from the Millers Point heritage conservation area. We have also resisted the proposed demolition of Sirius, a brutalist multi-residential building designed by Tao Gofers to rehouse public tenants who had been displaced after the controversial redevelopment of the historic Rocks area during the 1960s and 70s. The Institute has supported the listing of this building on the State Heritage Register.

    HOUSING AFFORDABILITY

    Housing affordability has also been in the news. Australia’s soaring house prices are putting home ownership beyond the reach of many middle-income earners. This was brought into the spotlight again this week after an international survey found Australia’s five main capital cities are ‘severely unaffordable’, with median house prices now up to 12 times median incomes. This is an issue that we will be asking about in our Federal Election survey section in the Member Survey being released on 4 February.

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