National President's Message - 1 August 2016

Hello, and thank you members!


Friends and Colleagues,

“In the field of public policy, if human feeling cannot trump mathematical calculation, we are danger of becoming a mere economy rather than a society, digits on some economist’s spreadsheet rather than human beings living in actual communities’


Dennis Glover wrote this apt statement in his recent book (which I highly recommend), ‘An Economy is not a Society’ (Redback Books, 2015). Much of what we achieve as landscape architects is an exact reflection of the quote above, making ideas real…

On this very positive note, your Board travelled to Sydney last week to meet local AILA members, host the Extraordinary General Meeting regarding the changes to AILA’s constitution, and to have what will be our last face-to-face meeting in our term as Directors. A huge shout-out needs to go to Hassell for loaning us their Boardroom and innovative venue, with sparkling Sydney Harbour views - I promise we didn’t get too distracted! :)

The 141st Board meeting was productive, passionate, and successful. The Board signed off on key decisions for the year ahead, as well as taking valuable time to track AILA’s activities against our Strategic Plan. The Board doesn’t normally navel-gaze, but it was important to ensure AILA is on-track and hitting goals, assessing the strategy line-by-line, and clearly understanding the large number of initiatives currently in progress– it was a proud moment for me personally as it was for all Directors. This is a collective effort – your Board – your representatives of the profession – and the staff and volunteers of AILA. Thanks should really go to our marvelous CEO Shahana McKenzie, and her team, for making it happen so seamlessly.

As is now standard, all our Board minutes are posted online here.

The Board also agreed on the projects that will be featured in the two planned exhibitions in our 50th year, including ‘The Parks Changing Australia’, featuring at the National Museum of Australia from the 26 October 2016, and ‘The Parks Changing Australian Cities’ at the Virgin Lounges in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. We really look forward to sharing these amazing projects with the public and thank the State Chapters for their assistance in the shortlisting process. It was not easy selecting the projects!

It has been a long road in our journey to reform AILA. However a particularly proud moment for me personally, and as outlined in a special newsletter last week by AILA Director and Company Secretary Sara Padgett Kjaersgaard, was the near unanimous support for the newly drafted constitution at the EGM. In our 50th year, I am not only extremely proud of the comprehensive and consultative process the Board endorsed; I am equally excited that it has finally established the new AILA! Our new constitution now meets all the requirements of the Corporations Act and is a model in best practice for a dynamic member based organisation. My heartfelt thanks goes to all who worked on the constitutional review; and to all members who sent in their support, proxies, and those who attended in person – it was a remarkable and historic evening.

Whilst I was in Sydney I was invited by the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia, amongst other landscape architects from around Australia, to join an all day workshop on the development of a much needed urban and landscape design theme for the Australian-developed national infrastructure sustainability ratings tool. The workshop was a very informative and passionate discussion around the value of our services in the preparation and assessment of very large infrastructure projects. I look forward to reporting the outcomes of the workshop in future newsletters.

The National Awards Jury also met last week (in what was a long but very productive week of AILA and industry initiatives for me!) to judge the National Landscape Architecture Awards entries. There was an amazing 157 entries, all of which are a testament to the breadth, quality and maturity of our growing profession. The winners will be announced at the inaugural (new) National Landscape Architecture Awards Night, kicking off the NIMBY Festival on Thursday 27 October 2016 in Canberra.

Whoa! I got there. It has been a mammoth month. Lastly, I attended the 2016 National Light Rail Conference last week in Sydney in my role at the City of Adelaide. I mention this as I whilst I have extensive experience in light rail and transport projects, as do more and more landscape architects, it was pleasing to see many new faces of our profession attending, demonstrating that landscape architects are influencing and designing these very important city shaping projects. It was heartening to see - 2014 I was the lone landscape architect at the conference.

As always, please drop me a line if I can be of assistance or advice, or contact the National Office. I always appreciate feedback and contact, and please continue to tweet and FB your views to @AILA_National and @DJB_LA.

Have a good week!

Daniel Bennett

Registered Landscape Architect

National President

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