ACA introduces Australian Architects’ Mental Wellbeing Forum

Mar 3, 2021
  • Article by Tili Bensley-Nettheim

The ACA has taken the lead in developing the Australian outfit of the Architects’ Mental Wellbeing Forum (AMWF), building on the success of the original UK-based AMWF.

Managing and directing an architecture practice is often gruelling, frustrating and relentless. Low fees, poor procurement practices, long hours and an undervaluing of architecture in the wider community are all long standing challenges that can put enormous strain on a workplace culture.

ACA CEO Angelina Pillai says that the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the industry’s existing mental wellbeing challenges.

“Creating an environment that supports a healthy and vibrant workforce can be difficult, particularly in times like these, when COVID-related challenges such as remote working, isolation and health risks provide additional stresses for both employers and employees,” explains Pillai.

As an employer body, the foundations of ACA’s charter are to represent and support architectural practices, its members and the broader architectural community as it relates to workplace conditions and subsequent management of staff.

In developing their own AMWF, the ACA has received guidance from the original UK-based AMWF launched in 2017 by Ben Channon, an Associate and Mental Wellbeing Ambassador at Assael Architecture.

The UK group meets quarterly to discuss new ideas for nurturing mental wellbeing in A&D. The most recent resource provided was a COVID-19 Toolkit, which offers advice on staying positive, practicing and strengthening resilience, and staying in touch with others.

The ACA sees the Australian AMWF playing out similarly.

“Our aim for this initiative in Australia is to raise awareness of mental health issues within the profession and to create a supportive community of practitioners across the country and over time, we aim to contribute further to the development of wellbeing resources and participate in broader research efforts in this space,” says Pillai.

With the support of Brian Clohessy from BVN, ACA mental health forums were established in Victoria, Queensland and NSW in 2020, with SA and WA groups to begin in early 2021.

AMWF meetings are open to all interested parties regardless of ACA membership.

“Great remote teams thrive in a culture of trust” says Marie-Claire Ross in her exploration of the mental health challenges of transitioning to WFH.

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