The new year, normally a time of celebration, has tested many Australians who have been affected by bushfires across the country. As we welcome in the new decade, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the challenges Australians have endured in recent months. It is my hope the new year will bring not only much needed rain and cooler conditions, but a chance for those touched by the fires to heal, renew and rebuild.
Welcomed New State Management
Both Maree Davenport, our Victorian CEO, and Barry Doyle, our Western Australian GM, hit the ground running end of last year. With a few months now into their roles, we can see the interest to drive policy, communications, public and government affairs across their regions and work collaboratively with other regions to build strength and a voice.
Maree held the seat of Waverley as a Liberal MP from 1996 until 2002. Since leaving Parliament she continued to serve the community, involved in many charitable and service organisations. She was Principal of lobbying and advocacy company Phoenix Public Affairs which she founded in 2004. Maree was a Member of the Building Appeals Board at the Victorian Building Authority until 2013, then appointed as Chair of the Statutory Building Advisory Council (BAC), comprising the heads of peak bodies in building and construction, the Victorian Building Authority and Consumer Affairs Victoria, until the end of 2019.
Barry is an experienced policy, communications, public and government affairs all-rounder with CEO experience. For seven of the last 10 years, he managed the West Australian industry body for community and affordable housing providers. More recently, he has been engaged to work on key strategic projects on behalf of the largest community housing provider in Perth. As an experienced people manager, policy analyst, communicator and project manager he is looking to use his highly transferrable skillset in other industries.
Strata Leading Change Forums
Over the past few months we held two Strata Leading Change Forums looking at building defects and nonconforming building products, followed by Insurance.
Across both sessions, the groups identified the need to mobilise the National strata manager network and promote one voice under the SCA banner to raise the profile of strata – value ourselves as managers. There is a lack of information accessible for strata managers, owners and local councils; the insurance renewals process is complex; a lack of consistency with code of construction and enforcement in different regions; and a lack of clarity on the best plan of action.
How are we going to rebuild consumer confidence?
• Strata Managers to engage with the other key industries to create a sense of cohesiveness going forward
• Reaching out to the consumer and engaging them with strata experience and being more transparent
• Boost media stories of positive community living
• Promotion through local groups like councils
• Research into the industry to support advocacy and provide credibility
• Provide education to explain to the consumer the history and scope of defects
• Promote our Building Manual, advocate and articulate best practice
• Acknowledge the crisis and promote change in media
• Careful language around supporting those affected by defects while planning for the future
How are we going to be proactive around insurance?
• Control the narrative and be on top of information to provide to businesses, lot owners, all levels of government, and other associations
• Garner support from bodies outside of the industry to verify position • Provide industry engagement as businesses will be unprepared
• Prepare a guide for managers around rising premiums and what can be done to minimise increases
• Provide evidence for consumers, preventative maintenance guidance, and details around factors affecting the insurer
• Build a rating tool for buildings (health check)
Our next Strata Leading Change Forum is upcoming on Sustainability and we look forward to more participation by our members across Australia and New Zealand.
Australian Building Manual Guideline
Our Australian Building Manual Guideline seeks to make a very complex process relatively simple and cost effective. It was developed to set out the acceptable minimum standard for the content of a Building Manual at project handover on completion of a building. This collaborative was in association with the SCA, Engineers Australia and WebFM.
For the first time we have a program that will offer consumers peace of mind when selecting a strata management business to manage their scheme.
Objectives of the guideline:
• Provide a framework for the content of a Building Manual
• Act as a best practice benchmark for the industry to follow
• Provide an auditable document for future reference
• Ensure Building Manual Users have access to relevant information on the building
• Meet the statutory requirements related to the provision of information
• Provide sufficient information to enable Building Manual Users to fulfil their responsibilities for ongoing use, operation, maintenance, risk management, life cycle replacements and if needed, demolition of the assets.
The draft guideline was subjected to technical reviews by the Strata Community Association and Engineers Australia. As a final step the draft was reviewed and edited by Bronwyn Weir (co-author of the Building Confidence Report) for legal clarity and to ensure the draft addressed the recommendations of their report. Maree Davenport, our SCA representative on the Australian Building Code Board (ABCB) Leaders Consultative Group shared the manual to the group in November. You can view the guideline on the below link: buildingmanuals.org
Strata Management Practice Standard
In the absence of government regulation of the industry, for the first time we have a program that will offer consumers peace of mind when selecting a strata management business to manage their scheme. In April 2018, SCA (WA) launched the Strata Management Practice Standard, a business certification program for strata management businesses, and this program is now available nationally.
We are delighted to announce that the first SCA Member has been awarded with Strata Management Practice Standard Certification: All Strata Management Services.
This National Program represents the next stages of SCA’s endeavour to lift the professional standards in the strata industry, which started with the Accreditation program for Strata Managers several years ago. With strata living on the rise across Australia, the education of Strata Managers and good governance of business are vital to the success of our growing communities.
State and Territory Annual General Meetings
Our members have all come together in their regions for the Annual General Meetings. For all our local boards and executive chapter committees, they have been working tirelessly over the past 12 months locally and with others across Australia and New Zealand to strengthen SCA across education, professional standards, advocacy and other activities. The SCA Ltd Board thank all our volunteers for their ongoing support.