President’s Message

2022 has well and truly kicked off in term of SCA (Vic)’s advocacy efforts, with several new opportunities arising throughout February for us to advocate government towards achieving better policy outcomes for the growing industry we proudly represent, and for the consumers we serve every day.

In Victoria in 2022, there is no time quite like election time for SCA (Vic) to coordinate a cohesive vision of a better future for strata in our state, and we intend to lead from the front in making this a reality.

COVID-19 Response

Late February 2022 saw the very welcome easing of COVID-19-related public health directions in almost all settings outside of the new ‘vaccinated economy’, with the most obvious and onerous restrictions applicable to owners corporations having disappeared as the year rolls on.

Among these, QR codes at shared facilities and compulsory mask wearing in enclosed common property have been scrapped, most likely for good.

Crucial to this managed easing of restrictions, SCA (Vic)’s input to forums held by the Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR), the overseeing agency for industry responses to COVID-19, has helped our government to better understand the realistic expectations and capabilities of our sector in formulating future public health response parameters, and how these will be followed.

Building on this success, SCA (Vic) has updated its own guidelines, in recognition of this paradigm shift; with this, the Victorian strata sector can look forward to the rest of the year with confidence, as we continue the journey of living with COVID-19, free from the uncertainty of the last two years.

Domestic Building Insurance (DBI) Expansion

Early February saw the contribution of SCA (Vic) to consultations undertaken by the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) concerning the proposed expansion of Domestic Building Insurance (DBI) coverage for residential building totalling three storeys at present, to eight storeys or less.

SCA (Vic) has broadly welcomed the proposed reforms to the DBI regime, while urging greater ambition from the Victorian Government in expanding the scope of coverage to encompass residential buildings of any height for a period of ten years, with no distinction between structural or non-structural defects.

SCA (Vic)’s proposals have recognised the substantial complexity and costs for consumers and for managers that are inherent to rectification efforts, even in the specific circumstances where the scheme should ideally apply – as a last resort where builders are unable to provide for rectification of defects discovered during applicable coverage periods.

While the initially proposed timeline for implementation of expanded DBI coverage in Victoria of 1 April 2022 has been delayed, SCA (Vic) will be monitoring the progress of this initiative throughout the year, particularly as the state election draws closer.

Embedded Networks Review

With the release of the Victorian Government’s final recommendation report concerning the proposed ban on embedded networks in newly built multi-dwelling properties in January 2022, SCA (Vic) has welcomed specific proposals from the expert panel that will stand to improve the consumer protection landscape for embedded network customers.

As per SCA (Vic)’s submission recommendations, the simplification of transferring between on-market and off-market status, and greater access to competitive, market-based energy pricing arrangements, have been appropriately recognised, and recommended by the expert panel undertaking the review.

Other provisions contained within the final recommendation report are being closely monitored by SCA (Vic) prior to the expected implementation of future regulations, particularly around the lengthy transition period for legacy networks to comply with these, as well as the possible future role of renewable energy generation in this context.

Apartment Design Standards Parliamentary Inquiry

February 2022 saw the commencement of the Victorian Parliament’s Apartment Design Standards Inquiry, following an initial consultation period in late 2021.

With hearings now concluded, and a final report expected in June 2022, SCA (Vic) will be monitoring any developments and recommendations with keen interest.

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