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Richard Brooks

Our birthday Standards Heroes have been nominated by their peers to represent all our contributors - individuals we consider to be the real heroes of standards, in Australia and internationally. We thank those who contribute their knowledge and expertise, service, and time to Standards Australia for the benefit of the Australian community.  

Richard Brooks was Chairman of the Standards Australia Board from 2014-2020.  

How did you become involved in standards development? 

My initial involvement in standards development was as an industry representative on the peak body for the forest sector, which was involved in the enhancement of the AS 1684 suite of standards.  

Other roles on behalf of industry included the facilitation of representatives on Standards Australia technical committees.

Direct involvement on a technical committee (post appointment as a Director) commenced with my appointment as the independent chair of FP-20 the committee responsible for the building in bushfire prone areas standard. This appointment followed a request from the Standards Australia CEO.

I was elected to the Board of Standards Australia in November 2009 and chaired the Finance Risk and Audit Committee for five years, followed by six years as the Board Chair and 12 months as the chair of the Standards Development and Accreditation Committee (SDAC).

Naturally, throughout my term as a director of Standards Australia a core focus was Standards Australia’s role in developing standards for the benefit of the Australian community. As Board Chair I attended meetings of the SDAC as an observer prior to my appointment as SDAC chair - this committee has significant responsibilities in ensuring and promoting the development of standards and the accreditation of other standards development organisations.

Prior to SDAC assuming the responsibility for accreditation of Standards Development Organisations I was involved on ABSDO including during the negotiations to transfer the responsibilities that ABSDO to Standards Australia.  

What role have standards played in your career?   

My initial industry involvement was in the timber, hardware and joinery sector and I was also involved in a residential building business supervising staff on site. Standards are critical in the construction industry, and I assisted staff and clients frequently with access to and guidance on standards.

Subsequently I was Executive Director of the Timber Merchants Association and provided services to several allied associations in the truss and frame, cabinet making, architectural hardware and hardware sectors. All these associations were involved in standards in one way, or another, be it roof trusses, timber grading and uses, fire doors or hardware items such as ladders.  

My academic qualifications being in business and accounting emphasised the use of compliance with relevant accounting standards so it came naturally to me that the same should apply in the various industries I have been involved in.  

What is a project you’ve been particularly proud to have helped deliver? 

Can I treat my time as a director of Standards Australia as a project?  

My time as a Standards Australia director was the most satisfying and challenging of my whole working career – the ability to be part of a team bringing change to an organisation that provides a key service to the Australian (and frequently international) community is a once in a lifetime experience.

Other highlights include:

  • The development of a comprehensive, forward-looking strategic plan including the objectives around distribution of standards to take Standards Australia into a set of modern arrangements  
  • Seeing a change in makeup of the Standards Australia Board – with more diverse interests and, at times, over 50% female directors
  • Witnessing Tracey Gramlick appointed as the company’s first female Chair

However, there are many, many others.

Outside of standards development, what have been some highlights of your career? 

Throughout my career I have adopted an approach of giving back to the industries that I’ve worked in as I have a strong belief that you only deserve to get back when you contribute. As a result, I’ve been involved in many industry organisations at various levels including executive member and President/Chair. These experiences have enabled me to continue to develop my knowledge and gain the personal satisfaction of servicing the community group involved.

Highlights of these involvements include the opportunity to be involved in the development of industry training, superannuation, industrial relations, an accreditation program based on AS 9001 and the diverse range of issues relevant to the various industry sectors.

Having commenced my working life in a family business employing around 50 people I have a very strong view on the importance of small and medium businesses to the Australian economy. This led me to taking up the opportunity to join the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia subsequently be elected as a director and chairman. It was this involvement that led me to the appointment as a Director of Standards Australia.  

What do you think the future of standardisation looks like? 

Local and international developments in technology and processes will continue to require the development of standards and other technical documents to satisfy the need for consistency and quality thus ensuring trade opportunities, compliance, safety and environmental are met.

Challenges will continue regarding the distribution of standards and other documents that must continue to be recognised that there is a need for funding if best practice standards are to be developed.    

Is there anything you’d like to say or mention about Standards Australia’s centenary year? 

I would like to recognise the significant contribution made by all those that have been involved in the past hundred years in Standards Australia (in its various forms) and encourage future generations to make a commitment to the ongoing development of the organisation as it enters its next century.

The contribution of those involved on technical committees must continue to be top of mind in any decisions that are made, and I would like to thank all those members and I have had the opportunity to be involved with for these significant contribution to Australia’s good.