Looking forward, looking back

Published: Tuesday 14 February 2012

As we move into 2012 it is timely to review the progress we have made and signal future directions. From the outset CEFPI has been about architects, planners and educators working together to create and improve places for learning. In recent years it has expanded to include all aspects of design – interior and landscape design, the application of ICT as a tool for learning and administration, and community involvement in the planning process.

Highlights include -

Pre 1999: Early contact with the USA and the contribution of CEFPI members including George Copa and Bruce Jilk, as well as Prakash Nair and Randy Fielding, who made presentations and undertook facilities planning work in Australia and provided a stimulus for change.

1999: Dr John Mayfield and a small contingent of Australians went to the CEFPI conference in Baltimore to see what it had to offer and whether our region would benefit from being part of this organisation. The process of establishing an Australian Chapter began.

2000: The establishment of the Australian Chapter with an official launch in the Chesser Cellars, Adelaide.

2004: The CEFPI Awards were initiated by the Victoria Chapter. With leadership from Janet Mattiske and representation on the judging panels from all member jurisdictions, this program has grown rapidly and gained recognition. Local winners have been included in the USA awards and have been successful in gaining recognition, including the MacConnell Award for Reece High School in Tasmania. The progress made through the awards has been documented in the impressive publication developed by the Victorian Chapter through Robert Bienvenu in 2011.

2006: The Young Professionals program, initiated and developed by John Mayfield, provides a forum and professional development opportunity for the younger members, and due to their enthusiastic support this concept has grown and continued. Renamed “The Mayfield Project” in his honour, the presentations developed for the 2010 Perth conference were excellent and work is continuing under the leadership of Phil Idle and other members, with local and international participants.

2007: We ventured our offshore, hosting a highly successful conference in Singapore. This is but one of a series of highly regarded conferences have been held annually across the Australasia region. In each instance we have been able to bring in leading thinkers, including Stephen Heppell and Charles Leadbeater, as well as a wide range of international and local leaders to provide a world perspective, challenge our thinking and stimulate new ideas.

2009: Through 2009-2011 many CEFPI members were involved in the Australian Government’s economic stimulus initiative “Building the Education Revolution” (BER). The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), and the Implementation Taskforce, which provided oversight and review of the program, have recognised the work done by CEFPI in providing practical advice and exemplary designs for new and refurbished schools and in procurement methods which provide value for money while meeting environmental, economic, and educational needs.

2010: The Australasian Region, which encompasses Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South East Asia and Oceania, was ready to operate independently from its USA parent. While we appreciated their support in getting established, we realised that there would be significant benefits from greater autonomy while remaining part of the CEFPI family.

2010: The establishment of a secretariat in 2010 with Helen Murray as our administrative officer, and a new web site in 2011 as well as adoption of teleconferencing technologies ensured an improvement in services to members.

2011: The Sydney conference marked a significant point in our development as it was the first time the International Board had come to Australia. It was led by Don Gilmore and supported by John Ramsay and the CEFPI staff, and included former USA CEFPI President Hugh Skinner who gave strong support to us during our development.

2011: We contributed ideas to the Gonski Review into school funding and governance. We look forward to seeing the outcomes of this report, which is due out at the time of writing.

The Australasian Region has contributed to a number of international committees – even when it means getting up at 4.00am to be part of a conference call. Special thanks to members, past and present, who have built, and continue to maintain, our valued relationship with CEFPI world wide.

Engagement in research through collaboration with other professional bodies including the University of Melbourne, and the OECD through CELE has provided opportunities to develop and share ideas. Participation in “Members Connect” provides opportunities to share information and ideas online through the web and to contribute to research and publications.

We are extremely grateful to Ann Gorey and Lynton Barclay for the hard work and excellent service provided over the past 10 years in preparing the newsletter for members.

The Communications team led by Council members Richard Leonard, Anne Knock and our administrative officer Helen Murray, look forward to receiving news updates and quality photos to share the great work happening across the region.

Finally, we thank the generous sponsors and partners who have worked with us over the past 10 years. We look forward to growing our organisation and providing more for our members as we head into our second decade.

Andrew Pender Chair, CEFPI Australasia