From encouraging quality in urban design in 1969 to an evolving public vision

In 1967 the RAIA Public Relations Committee, chaired by Newell Platten, organised the 1967 symposium 'Outrage' in Adelaide to address the poor quality of urban development in Australian cities in the 1960s. The writings of Robin Boyd had summarised some of the issues and the South Australian community decided to take action to determine how to improve our urban environment. Sydney architect Don Gazzard, author of the book Outrage, gave the keynote address.

The outcome was the establishment in 1969 of the Civic Trust of South Australia Inc. Jack H McConnell was the inaugural President and Jim W Warburton the Vice Chairman. Since then many community leaders have contributed, including Robert DicksonSir Eric von SchramekRen DeGarisDon Dunstan, Hugh Stretton, Basil Hetzel and Dame Roma Mitchell.  Stuart Hart, who was a foundation member and continued his activities in the Trust through to 2009, particularly in criticising contemporary proposals such as Buckland Park, wrote the landmark Report on the Metropolitan Area of Adelaide 1962.

The awards program commenced in 1971 and in the mid 70s brickbats were added. Ian Macdonald, from Victoria, initiated and drove the program, followed by various prominent architects, Margaret Lee and then Darian Hiles. A report was published by David Jones, Senior Lecturer in Landscape Architecture in the University of Adelaide in Australian Planner Vol 33 No 3 1996.

Now named the Australian Civic Trust due to its wider national scope, the Trust is a proudly independent, voluntary association seeking community views on civic issues and coordinating responses by community representatives, leaders and experts to encourage higher civic standards.

The primary focus has always been on the social and environmental issues in urban design. In 2004 this was formally recognised by the introduction of purely social and environmental categories in addition to those for the built environment and in 2012 Risks and Opportunities were added to the Awards and Brickbats, thus forming a SWOT-style approach each year, but still driven by public nominations.

Thus the awards and brickbats program is now specifically designed to cover the general civic spectrum, including local and national issues, addressing general civic values and aspirations in the community.

Investigations by the Trust, in large part determined by the public through the nomination process, have been led by:

Jack H. McConnell   (1969-1972) Robert Dickson         (1972-1974)Jack H. McConnell   (1975-1978)

Robert Dickson   (1979-1980)   David Saunders  (1981-1984)  Newell Platten    (1985-1986)   Don Dunstan       (1987-1999)

David Gilbert       (1994-1995)  Michael Lennon  (1995-1999) Darian Hiles    (2000-present)