As we close the chapter on 2023, I reflect again on the journey this year. The remarkable success of Australia’s women’s football team, earning the distinction of “Matilda” as the country’s word of the year, speaks volumes about the power of determination and teamwork. This same spirit is alive and thriving in the construction industry.

As the Matilda’s have inspired a new generation of female soccer players, we too have the opportunity to update our game plan and reemerge as Australia’s great industry sector that people want to work in. We all know this, and this year ACA members came together and challenged where the industry could go next, pledging to fundamentally change our industry’s culture. Our pledge signified a shared recognition that our industry must transform, and ACA members committed to promptly implementing flexible work plans for employees on every project. This move directly addresses the industry’s issues of long hours, high stress and poor work-life balance.

As part of the ACA’s pledge this year, we set a bold target: by 2028, at least 75 per cent of ACA members will attain the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) citation. Currently, only a handful of construction companies have achieved this recognition. This citation is a catalyst for closing gender pay gaps, promoting equal sharing of caring responsibilities at home and adopting a zero-tolerance stance on gender-based and sexual harassment.

Our industry has the potential to offer a rewarding career to individuals from diverse backgrounds, challenging them to solve complex problems and leave lasting legacies in local communities for generations. Therefore, ACA members have committed not only to attracting new talent but also to highlighting the many positive aspects of the industry. This goes beyond recruitment; it strives to create an inclusive and innovative space for everyone involved.

The spotlight has rightly been on the culture of the industry this past year and closely linked to culture is productivity. This year ACA’s major initiative was the proposal to the Federal Government for it to lead a national approach to construction productivity reform—a National Construction Strategy. Our plan is a genuinely national and tripartite Strategy accountable to the highest level of national policy oversight and underpinned by a shared responsibility between all levels of government, industry and the unions. I am encouraged by my conversations with state and federal governments regarding the strategy. I am optimistic that we will start to see significant reform in how projects are procured and delivered in 2024 to increase productivity and improve the financial sustainability of the industry.

As we wrap up 2023, I want to wish you a happy and safe Christmas and a great New Year. I appreciate your support and look forward to gathering all our energy for what promises to be an exciting 2024.

View our 2023 Year in review.

Jon Davies

CEO, Australian Constructors Association