National President's Message - 26 October 2015

Feeling the earth between your toes


Hello friends and colleagues,

Following the recent Festival, This Public Life, I am reminded of the welcome to country by Auntie Diane, where we were asked to feel the earth down by the banks of the Yarra beneath our bare feet, the connection to country. To me, the welcome to country is always an emotional and thought provoking moment that washes away many of my stresses and pressures. It is the great leveller, and an appropriate way to say ‘hello’ to you all.

I’d like to introduce the new AILA Board:

  • Daniel Bennett, Chair/President
  • Malcolm Snow, Deputy Chair/Vice President
  • Angus Bruce, Deputy Chair/Vice President
  • Sara Padgett Kjaersgaard, Company Secretary
  • Ashley Sheldrick, Treasurer
  • Suzanne Moulis, Director
  • Jerry de Gryse, Director
  • Amalie Wright, Director
  • David Hatherly, Director
  • James Grant, Director

It is without doubt the most exciting time in history to be part of this great profession of landscape architecture, and by way of introduction, I offer this statement from one of our newest friends:

“The built environment needs the canvas provided by Australia’s landscape architects. Good urban design, parks, our green spaces and interesting streets make our cities liveable. We admire the vibrancy that landscape architects add to our suburbs and reimagined cityscapes. We value the artistry and sustainability of your expertise.


How we live our urban lives depends on you being the best landscape architects you can be.”


The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia, Member for Wentworth and avid public transport user, ‘This Public Life’ Festival of Landscape Architecture Welcome, Friday 16 October 2015


I am honoured and humbled to have been appointed the 26th National President of AILA, and along with my fellow Directors, would like to thank you for your continued engagement and trust in the renewal of AILA.

My sincerest gratitude and support goes to the enigmatic outgoing President, Mark Frisby, for his exemplary demonstration of a new, engaged, democratic, open and transparent AILA. Mark’s leadership and humility has set the foundation for the future and he represents the very best of what landscape architects can achieve.

My sincere thanks also go to the previous Board. The foundations have been laid for a new AILA to lead and guide the profession well into the next 50 years. This was no mean feat. The revolutionary change, the return to a member based organisation, an AILA that listens, advocates and delivers, is a mantra we must all respect and admire.

Our fantastic AILA staff are to be congratulated for their ongoing leadership and management of AILA, in particular CEO Shahana McKenzie, for leading a great team of consummate professionals who continue to deliver again and again. Get to know them if you haven’t come into contact with them already, their energy and enthusiasm is infectious.

We still have much to share and learn from each other. The now annual Festivals of Landscape Architecture demonstrate that we can a) pull an audience and b) talk to each other with respect, dignity, passion and debate. These industry and public events are taking the profession to the streets. It is energising and rewarding to be part of it. 


As we approach our first half millennium, reflection and perspective are useful to remind ourselves of who we are, what we can achieve and why we do what we do. I encourage you to contact all the Directors and share your ideas, passions, concerns, opportunities and advice. Your new Board will continue to listen, respond, advocate and debate.

As Natalie Jeremijenko stated at This Public Life, ‘we are the astronauts and leading intellectuals of the 21st century’…and it is indeed time to spread our wings wider and farther.


To the stars!

Daniel Bennett AILA

National President

Australian Institute of Landscape Architects

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