HIA national conference 2019

More than meets the eye

Every year the HIA National Conference offers members the best in all things building development, and 2019 was no different.


Kate Veteri

When imagining what would make up the perfect getaway, some people imagine laughter and different sights and scenes than their home town, for others it would involve the chance to experience and learn something new. But what if you could combine the two? That’s exactly what was on offer at the HIA 2019 National Conference in Perth, Western Australia.

From the first moment guests arrived they were bundled into awaiting vehicles to take them to Sandalford Winery in Caversham, outside of the city. 
Shireen Da Costa, HIA National Conference Manager, says that the HIA–Holcim Welcome Party gave the ‘delegates a taste of Western Australia’s culinary delights in the relaxed setting of picturesque Sandalford Winery’.

‘The gourmet food options combined with the sounds of live entertainment provided the idyllic opening to the conference,’ she says.

While a relaxed start proved to be a great beginning, the enjoyment didn’t end there. From good food to a good laugh, the Business Lunch, partnered by COLORBOND® steel, was the perfect opportunity for members and their guests to hear from influential British stand-up comedian Ben Elton. 

‘Members were treated to an “in conversation” style interview to hear about Ben’s amazing career and what drives his creativity,’ Shireen says. ‘It was a real once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.’ Beyond the food and fun, the conference offered a wide array of networking opportunities, celebration of the industry and future-forward thinking.

For the more than 550 HIA members, their colleagues and family, they had the chance to immerse themselves in endless possibilities and ideas. 

In amongst the offerings of the HIA National Conference was the captivating Business Building Sessions, partnered by James Hardie. Enlightening members and guests, keynote speakers presented their personal anecdotes of running a business, connecting with clientele and insights on the future of technology. 

colorbond steel business lunch
Comedian Ben Elton treated members to an “in conversation” style interview about his career and what drives his creativity. 
angus hervey tane hunter future crunch
Future Crunch founders addressed delegates about the future of technology and possibilities for the building industry. 

Cheryl Griek of The Cherob Group has been a regular attendee of various HIA events over the years. She has a passion for networking and building her business knowledge so the line-up of keynote speakers on offer, including Todd Sampson, Future Crunch, Ben Darwin and Amanda Stevens, was a big drawcard. 

While Cheryl felt last year’s conference in Singapore was going to be ‘a hard act to follow’, she was pleasantly surprised to discover the Perth event upheld the ‘same high standard as usual’.

Fellow attendee Sonja McAuliffe of Archertec Interiors is passionate about inspired design, building connections and strong women in business, and for her the conference delivered on all three. 

‘Having a chance to see Optus Stadium in all its glory was really special,’ Sonja says. ‘I had the chance to work with the architects involved in the past, so it was really a unique experience to finally go there.’

Cheryl agreed and commented: ‘I loved the Optus Stadium night, it was great fun…[and I] loved the silent disco. It was a great atmosphere and networking night.’ 

When it came to building industry connections, Sonja, a Canberra native, found the revelry from fellow industry professionals an addition that had sweet payback later in the weekend.

‘I hopped on the bus by myself on the first night to head to the winery and made friends with members from Adelaide,’ she says.

‘During the awards night when I found out that I had won the 2019 HIA Australian Bathroom Design award, [partnered by Caroma], it was so nice to have a personal congratulations from my newfound friends. 

‘You never know, we might have the chance to work together in the future too.’
Apart from the joy of winning her well-earned award, when Sonja was asked to point out a standout part of the conference, Amanda Stevens was top of mind. 

‘She was so relatable and had clear messages drawn straight from her own life experiences,’ Sonja says. ‘It was empowering to hear from a fellow woman in business. It was really inspiring.’

For Cheryl Griek, Amanda also delivered with some practical business skills: ‘Amanda Stevens did her Saturday morning seminar and I got some great ideas to build on our website to [draw in the attention of] the clients we would really like to attract.’

amanda stevens
Keynote speaker Amanda Stevens addresses delegates on the consumer experience and connecting with clientele.
brickworks networking party
HIA members at the Optus Stadium networking event.
holcim welcome party
HIA member delegates mingling at the HIA–Holcim Welcome Party
brickworks networking party silent disco
The silent disco was a hit with delegates. 

Much like Sonja and Cheryl, Tom Voudouris of TVD Constructions felt the keynote speakers were a special highlight. For Tom, award-winning documentary maker, adventurer and businessman Todd Sampson’s ‘mind over matter’ philosophies really spoke to him personally. 

During recent years, Tom had suffered some significant personal challenges, even being struck by lightning, which resulted in him having to learn to focus on pushing himself, both physically and mentally, and uncovering what really is important. 

‘For me, the lessons about learning to separate my work life from my personal life really meant a lot,’ he says. 

‘I admire what Todd had to say, how he challenged himself, but also how he has learnt to keep his work life and family life separate. It was powerful and a standout by far.’

Clearly Tom and Todd Sampson must have determination and passion in common, after all his build was named 2019 HIA Australian Townhouse Villa Development, partnered by Brickworks.

As a wonderful finale to an event-filled conference, the 2019 HIA–CSR Australian Housing Awards gala dinner proved to be a heart-warming evening for winners and spectators alike.

Coming up to its fifth year, the HIA 2020 National Conference will be held on the sunny shores of the Gold Coast from 28–30 May. So save the date to make sure you don’t miss the next opportunity to evolve your business knowledge and learn about industry issues and forecast trends, connect with others in our industry and celebrate the high achievements of nominees at the HIA–CSR Australian Housing Awards.

pino monaco bill mcdonald graham wolfe

Congress in focus

Each year, on the day prior to the national conference, the HIA National Policy Congress takes place. The National Policy Congress is HIA’s integral policy making body, where members come together to vote on policies affecting HIA members and the residential industry as a whole. 

This year the discussion points included: builder licensing, corporate phoenixing, energy efficiency and more.

The policies tabled at the NPC are the result of hundreds of discussions that took place during HIA regional and national committees. 

The preceding President’s Dinner also held the 2019 DR Dossetor Address, which was delivered by HIA Life Member, and recent Medal of the Order of Australia recipient, Bill McDonald of McDonald Jones Homes.

Since 1991, the speech has provided the opportunity for an industry professional to offer their perspective of the industry’s past, present and future. You can read more on Bill’s address in the next issue of HOUSING.

Photo: (L–R) Immediate Past HIA National President Pino Monaco, Bill McDonald and HIA Managing Director Graham Wolfe.

HIA national conference 2019
HIA member delegates celebrating at the 2019 HIA–CSR Australian Housing Awards ceremony. 
HIA CSR housing awards
2019 HIA–CSR Australian Housing Awards.

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