National President's Message - 29 February 2016

The ‘Australian Infrastructure Plan’ – a lost opportunity

Friends and Colleagues,

The Guardian Australia reported last week that Adelaide is pulling ahead of Sydney and Melbourne as Australia’s greenest city (“Australia’s greenest city: Adelaide pulls ahead of Sydney and Melbourne”, Friday 12 February). Whilst I am heartened to see that my adopted city of Adelaide is finally getting some time in the sun for its greener policies, the article outlines the policy positions for most state capitals on their plans for creating better, greener, healthier cities.

Your AILA continues to advocate the benefits of living cities and green infrastructure at the highest level, following the release of the Australian Government’s Infrastructure Plan for the next 15 years. We are in the sweet spot of advocacy for the first time in many years.

So it was with a high level of disappointment that the new plan ignores many of our recommendations, as set out in our submission to Infrastructure Australia.

Your CEO, Shahana McKenzie, has led the charge representing our views, across a broad spectrum of media and government, as a lost opportunity to achieve many of the benefits of better cities.

Perhaps in the past, we may have been silent and worked behind the scenes to advocate our views. However on occasions, strong and effective leadership is required to stand up, outline our position, and continue to inform good policy for the greater good.

This is one of those occasions. As a result of outlining our views on many of the missing aspects of the Australian Infrastructure Plan (AIP), we have been widely reported across the media, further reinforcing our position as a leader in the development of better policies in regards to greener infrastructure and cities.

AILA’s press release in full can be found at here and some of the articles can be found here; ArchitectureAU, The Fifth Estate and Architecture & Design

Many of you have provided feedback on many forums about the ways AILA communicates with you. As part of considering better and more agile ways of communication, the National Council created a taskforce in 2015 to review and provide recommendations on the future direction of AILA’s publications, including Landscape Architecture Australia. Recommendations were put to National Council by the taskforce in November last year and included;

  • Prioritize AILA’s available resources & shift to an online site with more agility
  • Create a high quality annual member publication
  • Engage and partner with an external agency to deliver improved and better services

Communicating with members is changing, and reflects a societal change in how we obtain our information. We can see printed newspapers declining in circulation and relevance, as the immediacy of online channels increases not only the availability of information, but also sharing and interacting on issues. AILA faces the same challenges: providing information to members and the wider public across many different platforms.

AILA is a small organisation, with grand ambitions for how it supports the profession into the future. With this in mind, the National Council agreed that to continue funding the printing and distribution of Landscape Architecture Australia was not the best use of our resources. Instead National Council requested the development of a strong brief with detailed objectives and performance measures, to include the delivery of both an online and once annual printed publication, with AILA’s expectations around the balanced approach to advertorial, fresh content and delivery of the services. A well-crafted and considered tender for these services is out now, and we hope to have submissions for consideration by National Council in our next meeting in March. I hope to report on our direction in how we communicate to you in the next few months.

Your National Council will be meeting in March, and we are very excited to be taking our meeting to Geelong and to meet regional members. Look out for details in due course and please come along and say hi. We really do value meeting you all and hearing about your work!

Finally, I encourage you all to continue to advocate for better city and greener infrastructure policies at all levels of government, as well as across your projects in the private sector. I’m always keen to hear your views so please make contact with me at any time to discuss any aspect of this important issue.

Have a good week.


Daniel Bennett

National President

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