Landscapers over the years have been called many things, but there is no doubt the term ‘Cowboy’ comes to mind more often than not.
Sadly, this is not true of all those in our industry and at our awards night 12 months ago, it was obvious that WA landscapers are producing innovative and professional work right across our state.
After arriving from London in 1992 where horticulture and particularly landscaping is at the forefront as a career, it has been interesting to watch our greenlife industry grow here in Western Australia over the past 30 years. Growth in housing and government infrastructure projects, particularly in and around the Perth CBD, has catapulted landscaping into an essential service.
Covid too – despite its overall impact across the world – has been thankfully kind to our industry with gardening trends and people’s participation on the up with many turning to their outdoor rooms for some DIY landscaping.
What this all translates into is that we have an industry that is begging to be regulated and although the days of the ute, shovel/barrow and a couple of mates with their four-legged friend will continue to be around, LIAWA’s vision and journey over the coming two to three years must be to enforce industry regulation.
To achieve this it must be engaged with government and be seen as a proactive voice in their decision making, actively work with TAFE to help develop core training units that correspond with industry needs, continue to build its membership base so there is a continued presence in the public domain of LIAWA members who are seen as the trained professionals in landscaping and finally, the commencement of piecing together an internal, formal recognition program for its members under the Master Landscaper Scheme.
These are all key initiatives. Some are short term and others long-term. It is therefore hoped that in 10 or 20 years’ time what we have as an industry now will have been superseded by stricter guidelines to not only protect the consumer, but also to assist in the future of landscape career pathways as a professional and recognised trade.
LIAWA’s focus is all about numbers and their first task must be to build its membership base now. In doing this it can then become a recognised voice and with landscapers popping up daily, Executive Officer Matthew Lunn believes their vision can come to fruition.
“It’s so easy to sit back and pick the low hanging fruit of those landscapers who are constantly in the public eye, but it is those who aren’t that we need to connect with. If you look back in time some of our well-established landscapers all started with a shovel and ute and have progressed to the heady heights they now acclaim. In time there will be more of these businesses coming into our industry and it is our responsibility to assist in their journey and ensure they meet the standards our industry needs to meet that all important government recognition.”
With membership and sponsorship soaring and real interest in LIAWA’s events and recently launched podcast ‘The Green Thumbs Up’, all bodes well for a successful year ahead for LIAWA.