Understanding NSCA Competencies - Country and First Nations

Understanding NSCA Competencies - Country and First Nations

Understanding the NSCA 2021 Competencies - Country and First Nations FORMAL

2 Formal CPD Points
Online On Demand

Developed in consultation with the Institute's First Nations Advisory Working Group and Cultural Reference Panel this course covers each aspect of the NSCA 2021 competencies relating to Country and First Nations peoples. Please note this is a PAID CPD, if you wish to undertake as informal CPD you can do so by following the link here.

Image: Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre Purfleet Clinic, Kaunitz Yeung Architecture Photographer: Brett Boardman




This course offers an overview of the new national competencies relating to Country and First Nations peoples grounded in the context of architecture, including the intent of including the Performance Criteria, a review of the Explanatory Notes, what each Performance Criterion is, and how they are applied at each level.

Learning Outcomes

On completion participants should be able to:

  • Understand the intentions and professional expectations embodied in the NSCA 2021 standards relating to First Nations
  • Define in practical terms key concepts including connecting with Country, designing with Country, and engaging with Community
  • Recognise gaps in knowledge and skills required to meet NSCA 2021, and devise a plan for upskilling
  • Demonstrate awareness of resources for learning about First Nations cultures, community, heritage 
  • Explain protocols for engagement through the project development and delivery phases
  • Use resources for researching Indigenous heritage and culture and identifying custodians of culture and knowledge

NSCA 2015 Performance Criteria

This course will deliver outcomes related to the following Competencies from the 2015 National Standard of Competency for Architects:

1.3 Assessment of project budget and timeframe against project requirements and objectives..

2.1 Identification, analysis and integration of information relevant to siting of project.
2.6 Preparation and analysis of project development options in response to project brief. 

3.1 Design response integrates the objectives of brief, user intent and built purpose. 
3.2 Application of creative imagination, aesthetic judgement and critical evaluation in formulating design options
3.3 Design response incorporates assessment of the physical location and relevant wider regional, contextual and environmental issues.
3.8 Application of manual and digital graphic techniques and modelling to describe three dimensional form and spatial relationships.

4.2 Evaluation of design options against values of physical, environmental and cultural contexts.
4.4 Inclusion of expertise of relevant specialists and consultants in developing the project design.
4.6 Investigation and integration of appropriate material selection for the project design.

5.5 Integration of materials and components based upon an understanding of their physical properties.

9.7 Knowledge of legal and regulatory requirements and obligations in regard to architectural practice, practice management and registration as an architect.


NSCA 2021 Performance Criteria

This course will deliver outcomes related to the following Competencies from the 2021 National Standard of Competency for Architects:

PC 1 
Comply with the regulatory requirements and obligations pertaining to practice as an architect, including legislation, professional codes of conduct, obligations for continuing professional development and professional indemnity insurance. 
PC 3 
Apply principles of project planning, considering implications for Country, environmental sustainability, communities, stakeholders and project costs. 
PC 8 
Be able to implement culturally responsive and meaningful engagement processes that respect the importance of Country and reciprocal relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples across architectural services.

PC 17 
Have an understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ aspirations to care for Country and how these inform architectural design. 
PC 20 
Be able to assess project budget and timeframe against project requirements and objectives, relevant legislation, statutory planning requirements, building codes and standards. 
PC 24 
Be able to prepare and analyse project development options in response to a project brief – its objectives, budget, user intent and built purpose, risk and timeframes, including environmental sustainability considerations. 
PC 27 
Understand how to embed the knowledge, worldviews and perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, shared through engagement processes, into the conceptual design in a meaningful, respectful and appropriate way. 
PC 29 
Be able to develop and evaluate design options in terms of the heritage, cultural and community values embodied in the site, and in relation to project requirements. 
PC 30 
Be able to explore options for siting a project, including integrating information and analysis of relevant cultural, social and economic factors. 
PC 34 
Communicate conceptual design proposals and associated information to client, stakeholders and communities using appropriate and culturally responsive methods appropriate to different audiences.

PC 36 
Be able to apply creative imagination, design precedents, emergent knowledge, critical evaluation and continued engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to produce a coherent project design. This should be resolved in terms of supporting health and wellbeing outcomes for Country, site planning, formal composition, spatial planning and circulation as appropriate to the project brief and all other factors affecting the project.
PC 41 
Be able to coordinate and integrate input from specialists and consultants into the detailed design and documentation. 
PC 45 
Be able to nominate and integrate quality and performance standards with regard to selected materials, finishes, fittings, components and systems, considering the impact on Country and the environment, and the whole life carbon impact of the project. This includes integrating life cycle assessments and other expertise and advice from consultants




Dr Danièle Hromek is a Saltwater woman of the Budawang tribe of the Yuin nation, with French and Czech heritage. Danièle is a spatial designer and Country-Centred designer. Danièle is the first Indigenous person in Australia to achieve a PhD in built environment and spatial disciplines. Her research and experience contributed to the Connecting with Country framework and Designing with Country discussion piece by Government Architect NSW.

As director of Djinjama, Danièle’s methodologies lead their approach to working with Country. Her work as a researcher, educator and cultural advisor brings Country, culture and community to the built environment by creating spaces to substantially affect Indigenous rights and culture. Clients include state and local government, museums and galleries, as well as industry including architects, planners, designers, heritage and engineering firms.

Her research work considers Indigeneity in the built environment. It contributes an understanding of the Indigenous experience and comprehension of space, and investigates how Aboriginal people occupy, use, narrate, sense, dream and contest their spaces.



Sarah Lynn Rees is a Palawa woman descending from the Plangermaireener and Trawlwoolway people of northeast Tasmania. She practises architecture at Jackson Clements Burrows Architects (JCBA), where she's also a lead Indigenous advisor in architecture and design; is program advisor and curator of the BLAKitecture series for Mpavilion, a director of Parlour: Women, Equity, Architecture, and a member of the Victorian Design Review Panel for the Office of the Victorian Government Architect. Sarah teaches at Monash University, and sits on the AIA Editorial Committee, as well as various other boards and advisory roles.

Sarah’s practice, advisory and research interests are geared towards a long-term aim of Indigenising the built environment.



Kathlyn has over 30 years of practice in the architectural profession, balanced with a business acumen secured by the principles learnt from an MBA and GAICD. Her experience has been across various building typologies for design, documentation and site services. These include hotel, apartment, residential, commercial, education (child care, primary and secondary), aged care, hospital, industrial and heritage buildings. She has appreciated multiple perspectives from experience working for US, UK and Australian businesses.  This includes Foster + Partners, SOM, AJ+C, Turner, and Crone. Kathlyn is the CEO of Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA). She is a Life Fellow (LFRAIA) and former President of the NSW Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects.


Non Members $149
Members $99
Graduate Members $59
SONA Members $19                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          


What Do I Do Next?

1. You will receive an automated registration email upon purchase.
2.     Follow the link in this email to take you to the course material on our online CPD platform.
3. You may have to click the green "log in via members site"  button to log into the online CPD platform. (Please do not input your credentials into the CPD site. Instead, to log in hit the “log in via members site” green button). You may be redirected to our members portal to log in with your credentials there.
4. Accept the T&Cs if it is your first time on the online platform, and hit “my dashboard” to find your purchased course.
5. Undertake your course at your own pace.
6. Once you have completed all the course material, you will be prompted to complete your assessment and feedback, after which your formal CPD certificate will be made available.