In the lead up to the Federal Election in May, the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) has released its 2019 federal election platform, aimed at improving the enduring health and wellbeing of all Australians and the country’s diverse communities.
The platform identifies six key areas that the Australian Government should address in building affordable, equitable, amenable and sustainable places. These are:
- Fostering Thriving Cities and Regions – Governments and industry in Australia must deliver places for communities that are built and connected in a way that enhances liveability, wellbeing, sustainability and productivity.
- Housing a Diverse and Inclusive Community – Australia is faced with a major housing problem in terms of availability, affordability and accessibility.
- Improving Building Regulation – Australia must change the building regulatory environment regarding compliance with and enforcement of the National Construction Code (NCC).
- Addressing Climate Change – Australia must enhance the resilience of the country’s built environment to extreme weather events and predicted climate change impacts.
- Capitalising on Creativity – Australian architects have a worldwide reputation for creative and innovative design leadership and Australia has been producing contemporary and breakthrough architecture.
- Supporting Australian Skills and Trade – Building Australia’s capacity to deliver liveable cities and communities requires governments to support Australian skills and expertise, ensuring a strong and vibrant built environment industry.
To guide the approaching government in facing these challenges, the AIA provided 31 recommendations.
AIA National President, Clare Cousins said there was huge scope for any incoming government to effect meaningful change provided they had the courage and capacity to implement recommended reforms.
“The upcoming election has the potential to be a real watershed moment in Australia’s medium-term political future,” Ms Cousins said.
“The key areas the Institute has identified in our election platform intersect with the interests of almost all Australians, which is unsurprising given the many touchpoints we have with the built environment in our daily lives.”
“But that only reinforces why it is so important for our incoming national government – however it is constituted – to address the challenges and implement the solutions we have identified.”
The AIA believes that an upcoming government must address Australia’s triple-A housing challenge of availability, affordability and accessibility. Specifically, for it to do more to support the housing needs of Indigenous and older Australians and those with a disability.
The peak body for the Australian architectural profession has also reiterated its long-running calls to improve safety by reforming building regulation and compliance.
“We call on the incoming government to amend the NCC to mandate the use of architects for institutional buildings and residential buildings that are three storeys and over, to make sure these structures are delivering the best possible outcomes for the people who use them,” Ms Cousins said.
The AIA has recommended the government legislate for post-construction audits to measure as-built environmental performance and include more stringent energy standards in the NCC.
The AIA has further renewed its call for a federal government architect and proposed that the incoming federal government adopt a National Architecture Policy.
“We believe the government can, and should, be doing far more to capitalise on the creativity of our homegrown design professionals and the worldwide reputation Australian architects have for creative and innovative design leadership,” Ms Cousins said.
“This too can pay a triple dividend, economically through the almost billion-dollar value architectural tourism brings to the economy, but also by creating buildings and public spaces that are environmentally and socially sustainable and culturally rich.”
The platform raises the issue of balancing the risk allocation in contracts to support quality innovation and viability.
The Institute also recommends ensuring that funding, programs and partnerships like City Deals link to specific design and sustainability outcomes.
The full election platform can be found here.