It was a pleasure to escape Sydney’s grey skies and unrelenting rains and head to Perth over this past weekend for the AILA National Board’s quarterly face-to-face (F2F) meeting. As always, we had a full agenda to work through. Fortunately, our schedule allowed for a bit of time out on Friday evening when we joined in the WA Chapter’s St Patrick’s Day gathering at the Leederville Sporting Club. Shaun Walsh delivered a late afternoon CPD session to the group, which was followed by drinks, a few rounds of lawn bowls, and a BBQ with WA members and their sponsors. Many thanks to Nathan Greenhill, WA State President, his executive team, and Carmen Williams, WA Chapter Manager, for their warm welcome. And for me... it was my first time on the greens!
Interstate Board meetings
While Board members are in regular contact with the National office and each other via emails and phone calls, these quarterly F2F meetings are a valuable time to be around the table together for two days getting updates on administrative and operational matters, reviewing and endorsing the essential work being carried out by the National office, Institute committees and working groups, and engaging in discussion on the strategic issues of significance to the organisation and the profession. Holding our Board meetings interstate also gives us the opportunity to interact with AILA members in other locales around the country. We’re looking forward to being in Melbourne for our June Board meeting (date TBC); Sydney, 12 October, coinciding with the 2017 Festival; and 8-9 December in Brisbane.
Highlights from Perth Board Meeting
We covered a lot of topics and issues during our meeting, and here are some of the highlights.
Financial performance of the Institute
The Board was particularly pleased to endorse a positive finance report projecting a second consecutive year of strong financial performance for the organisation, and the 2017/2018 AILA consolidated budget that was also adopted at the meeting will deliver a third year. After several years of experiencing consolidated loss, this transition into a much stronger financial position validates the operational procedures put in place concurrent with the organisational change that occurred in 2014.
Membership Categories Restructure and Proposed Registration Program
The National Membership Committee (NMC) submitted their draft document, “AILA Pathway to Leadership: Membership, Registration, Learning and Recognition” for our consideration. This excellent work has been undertaken with multiple aims, including: developing a rigorous and robust registration process, creating a membership structure that will underpin ongoing growth and diversity, and revising and expanding CPD programs that are relevant, inspiring and link more closely to members’ needs at various stages of their careers. Significantly, in the proposed membership structure, registration is conceived as the pinnacle of professional practice, but not a requirement for being a full AILA member.
The Board are very enthusiastic about the direction put forward in this proposed policy and appreciative of the NMC’s work on this issue. Following a few minor edits and amendments to their draft, the discussion paper will go out to the membership for consultation in about a month. Please keep an eye out for an upcoming message from AILA in which your feedback will be invited to help shape the membership of AILA into the future.
State Presidents’ Reports
The Board is keen to ensure a high level of State Chapter engagement and that is activated in several ways. AILA staff from around the country are considered as part of one team, meeting regularly by teleconference (fortnightly) to share ideas and work through challenges—all as one team. We’re aiming to have a Board member attend each of the State awards events, and, of course, will be holding our F2F Board meetings interstate. We also request the State Presidents to provide written reports for our quarterly meetings. Their reports are structured to explicitly address progress on the four pillars of the AILA Strategic Plan 2015-2020, namely: growing the membership; building the profile of the profession; advocating to government (state and local); and ensuring a sustainable AILA, which includes reporting on their State budget position.
The Presidents’ reports give us a valuable snapshot of the range of activities being undertaken and issues being addressed at the state level. AILA chapters around the country are convening events that engage with local communities, aim to stir policy change and commitment to new directions, generate collaborations with allied professionals, support university education, etc. It’s great to see seeing more submissions to State Government, for example, the Victorian chapter’s response to the Draft Integrated Water Management Framework for the state, and South Australia’s submission to Adelaide City Council regarding the future City Bikeways proposals. Reading about these many and varied contributions is a great reminder of the coordinated “reach” that AILA is achieving across the country.
Advocacy at the National level
We had an important discussion about advocacy during our session, and specifically how AILA can continue to drive improvements in government policy and influence redirecting or increasing level of funding on issues of critical concern to landscape architects. AILA’s CEO, Shahana McKenzie, actively engages with key people at the Federal level, on both sides of Government. Participation in last year’s Living Cities Workshop, which resulted in the formation of the Living Cities Alliance, emerged from these connections. To support this high level of advocacy, the National Office will be producing a document that outlines AILA’s advocacy agenda for 2017-2018. The Board had a brief and energetic brainstorm on what some of those topics might be during our meeting, eg valuing green infrastructure as an asset class; expanding federal funding for state and local government pilot projects on, for example, Smart Cities and Suburbs; Federal Government focus on natural resource protection, eg funding for the Great Barrier Reef Authority; energy security and supporting renewables; Federally supported reforestation strategies as carbon offsets...and so on. The 2017/2018 advocacy agenda will be distributed to members for feedback and we welcome, as always, suggestions from members.
Connection to Country Working Group ToR
The Board was especially pleased to endorse the terms of reference (ToR) for a new Connection to Country Working Group which will oversee the development of a national Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) for AILA. This will build on the activities of the Victorian Chapter’s ‘Connection to Country’ Working Group that resulted in their Chapter’s RAP, which was presented to the Board at our December 2016 meeting. It is intended that the national Connection to Country Working Group will comprise 6-7 members, representing as many states as possible, to be selected by the National President and Vice-President from names received in response to a call-out to the membership. Please click here for more information on this group and to view a copy of the Terms of Reference.
Foreground: review and ongoing consultation
Responding to a detailed paper submitted by URO Media that was included in our meeting papers, the Board engaged in a full and frank discussion about Foreground—in particular, reviewing its editorial direction and building its relationship with AILA members. We reiterated our support for Foreground and were appreciative of the discussion paper submitted by URO, recognising it is still essentially in the ‘start up’ phase of development. They were proactive in outlining key areas on which they want to focus, including: site content and editorial balance, direct industry engagement, and generating an annual group of themes around which to inform the content and engagement. In the coming days, I will be issuing a more detailed message to members about the Foreground review. This will be issued to you directly via EDM, so please watch for that as it will detail the Board’s commitment to an ongoing review of this new platform and explain how you can provide direct feedback to the process.
So, as you can see, there is a lot going on in AILA at the national and state levels, and there are many ways for members to be involved. While lots of information comes at you daily via emails, do keep an eye out for the AILA communications. And be sure to give yourself an extra minute or two to read right down to the bottom of those newsletters and messages so you can respond to the requests for feedback, contribute to consultation processes, and participate in great events.
AILA National President