National President's Message - 16 February 2015

There has been a lot of talk lately about the future direction for Australia. Now is also a good time for AILA to be considering the future of our profession. Last week a national visionary workshop was held to explore the fundamental question “the purpose of AILA is…” An observation at the workshop which resonated with me was to think of landscape architecture as a product which currently has little brand awareness. If raising the profile of the profession is a priority of AILA, there is potential to position our profession to the community as something new and essential.

Discussions at the 2014 Festival of Landscape Architecture and at the 2014 AGM reinforced the need for AILA to cast a new vision for itself (for me the Big Strategy session was particularly provocative – if you missed it check it out on our Online Learning portal.

From these discussions a working group was established, and from this, last week’s national visionary workshop was borne. I had the terrific opportunity to participate in the workshop in Sydney, alongside AILA CEO Shahana McKenzie and a number of members who represent various sectors of our membership:

Daniel Bennet (SA, City of Adelaide, AILA Vice President)
Suzanne Moulis (ACT, AILA Vice President)
Angus Bruce (NSW, HASSELL)
Catherin Bull (QLD, University of Melbourne & Queensland University of Technology)
Sacha Coles (NSW, ASPECT Studios)
Perry Lethlean (VIC, Taylor Cullity Lethlean)
Jerry De Gryse (TAS, Inspiring Place, AILA National Councillor)
James Grant (NSW, JMD Design, AILA NSW President)
David Hatherly (QLD, Vee Design, AILA QLD President)
Sara Padgett Kjaersgaard (WA, University of Western Australia, AILA WA President)
Fleur Rees (NSW, Sue Barnsley Design, AILA NSW FRESH)
Malcolm Snow (ACT, National Capital Authority)
Amalie Wright (QLD, Landscapology)

Over the coming weeks a draft report will be prepared for consideration at the March National Council meeting in Hobart and then circulated to members for comment. This will be an important document and member input is a critical part of its development and the future success of AILA.

Similar discussions around visioning and leadership have recently been taking place within State Chapters. In part these are being prompted by 2015 being a year of National Council and Chapter elections. It is also important to be looking at Chapter goals as part of budgets that are currently being formulated for the 2015/16 financial year. The distribution of membership fees to State Chapters will increase further in the next financial year which will enable the Chapters to be more active and influential.

Congratulations to Gareth Collins on being appointed the NSW President along with the Chapter Executive Josh French (Vice President), Leigh Trevitt (Treasurer) and Julie Lee (Secretary). By mid-year, all Chapters will have completed their elections and nominations for National Council will be sought. If you have an interest in being involve I would encourage you to attend a local chapter meeting - there are exciting times ahead.

Professionally we are expert at imagining a future for a site or study area. We sometimes also underestimate our skills in mapping out the steps required to get to that point. As we approach the 50 year anniversary of AILA in 2016 it is timely for us to be considering the future of landscape architecture and how AILA can help the profession realise its potential.

Mark Frisby
National President
Australian Institute of Landscape Architects

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