This Media Release from 7 July 2021 discusses why strata industry consultation and recognition matters now, and in future emergencies.
Why Strata Industry Consultation and Recognition Matters Now, and in Future Emergencies
As metropolitan Melbourne begins to emerge from its fourth economic and social hibernation, or ‘circuit breaker lockdown’ as a result of the pandemic, the issue of transmission within enclosed settings, particularly those such as common property areas such as foyers in strata-titled complexes, has become more apparent in the scope of public attention, and for that matter, media coverage.
As has become apparent throughout 2021, there remains ongoing issues concerning just how strata communities navigate the challenges posed by the pandemic. This was particularly pronounced with the confusion that arose in May 2021 concerning the application of QR codes across industries and premises, especially within strata-titled properties of varying types and scale where appropriate.
With the largest and most public front in the ongoing battle against community transmission currently taking place in a townhouse complex in Southbank, the case for greater consultation by the Victorian government with the strata management industry in planning for future emergencies, particularly public health and infection control contingencies, has only gained greater urgency.
To this end, in its Pre-Budget Submission for 2021-22, Strata Community Association (Vic) pushed for the establishment of a working group, comprised of strata industry professionals and Victorian Government officials from a diversity of agencies, with the goal of formulating emergency response protocols specifically designed with consideration of the strata industry at the forefront of planning.
The committee’s remit would consider emergency scenarios based upon those identified by Emergency Management Victoria in its report, Emergency Risks in Victoria, in which a pandemic event is front and centre.
The call by SCA (Vic) for a Strata Industry Standing Committee or industry dialogue forms only part of what has long been a reality for the strata sector in Victoria; that what must change is the idea of how policy applicable to strata, owners corporations and building operators is written and executed, both during and after the current crisis ends.
Not dissimilar to the Federal Government’s COVID-19 Coordination Commission comprised of industry experts and stakeholders from the diverse segments of the national economy, the Victorian Government should take heed that ultimately, expertise lies within industries across the board, in mitigating risks and responding to situations such as emergencies where they occur in specific settings.
For too long, strata has been all but ignored in consultative processes, both by a lack of understanding of its place in the property industry and through a divergence of responsibilities between departments driving government policy; we’ve seen it happen with QR codes earlier this year. We saw it last year when private building operators were left to their own devices, attempting to interpret provisions of confusing and at times, contradictory public health directives, with little substantive support.
And we will continue to see it happen until recognition of the unique status of the sector is duly considered; while strata may appear quite low-profile under the lens of policymakers, upon closer inspection, strata affects a plurality of millions living and working every single day – an estimated 25 per cent of Victoria’s population.
A unified departmental focus and dialogue on strata matters is surely possible, which in turn would build better representation in government for the best interest of Strata owners, owner-occupiers, and tenants, based on the expertise available from an industry that strives to achieve these outcomes every day.
President, SCA (Vic)
Strata Community Association (Vic)
This post appears in Strata News #493.
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