VIC State Recap – Autumn 2020

The State of Victoria declared a State of Emergency commencing 16th March 2020, for an initial period of 4 weeks. New containment measures for non-essential services were introduced from 23rd March 2020. The focus of non-essential services is on activities that allow people to gather in groups and includes pools, spas and gyms, which are now closed.

Victoria Announces a State of Emergency

The Government has summarised “Victorians love to get out and about at this time of year, but to save the lives of many Victorians, right now, if you can stay home, you must stay home.” There have been issues with application of the law, including the Government initially saying Victorians were breaking the rules by seeing a partner they didn’t live with — only to backflip hours later. So too the case of a learner driver out with a parent fined $1600 for nonessential travel.

This quickly evolving situation impacts the services we provide to clients, the continued operation of Owners Corporations Management businesses as well as operation of OC committees, interactions with lot owners, tenants and the rules for use of common property in multi-dwelling buildings.

For mixed use and vertical buildings, which are commercial in structure and residential in nature, SCAV has recognised that there are three key things to be addressed quickly:

1. Business Continuity and Pandemic Planning

Businesses may already have a Business Continuity Plan (Plan) but that is not enough for managing a pandemic, which has the potential to disrupt workforces, supply chains and economic activity in the months ahead – expect at least six months. It is with a sense of urgency that you need to review and update your Plans to ensure their operational resiliency.

2. Committees and Managing Buildings

In addition to increasing hygiene measures and having a buildingwide plan in place, it is critical to cancel social gatherings, such as meet and greets, apartment complex meetings, or other activities in the building that require people to meet face-to-face. It is unknown if the Health Department intends to notify an Owners Corporation if it has issued a notice to a person to quarantine. However, all residents and their visitors are bound by the Model Rules as well as any Consolidated Rules.

SCAV recommends that the Committee (and Management) communicate with residents on this important subject. In times such as these, effective and timely communication within the community can help to provide comfort to residents that the Committee (and management) are giving these matters proper attention. Committees can consider sending an initial notice to residents offering guidance and updated advice. SCAV has created a template for your use ‘Communications to Residents’.

In addition, the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has provided the following information:

If you live in an apartment with a security entrance, don’t allow delivery people to enter the building or use lifts or internal stairways. Pick up your delivery from the front of the building instead. This minimises the risk to any older or vulnerable people who share the common areas of the property.

SCAV is working closely with the Victorian Government to ensure the voice of the strata is heard. It is keeping members up to date on VCAT operational matters and fee recovery.

3. Strata Meetings

Some companies have already made the decision to defer Annual General Meetings (AGM) or move to online technology to conduct meetings, although may be doing so with some risk. As the number of cases of coronavirus increases across the country, and as Government advises more details on social distancing, each Owners Corporation will need to consider whether there are risk factors which would lend themselves to a cancellation or a postponement of an AGM, such as: – Demographics and vulnerability of the attendees

– The presence of confirmed or presumptive cases of coronavirus in the community 

– The ability to arrange for social distancing in the venue of choice 

– The expected volume of attendees at the AGM

SCAV is also liaising with Government to provide exemptions and directives where the current circumstances will impact on compliance with legislative obligations, during this challenging time; including AGMs being required to be held within 15 months of the last, any important decisions that require the affixing of the common seal and therefore witnessing of its application and reliability of management clauses and impending expiration.

Pools in Owners Corporations

The Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2019 and its new regulations, classed Owners Corporations pools as Category 2 Aquatic Centres. SCAV has argued strenuously against this classification, which required water testing at four-hourly intervals from the start of each day.

We argued that only residents access these pools in common property and that the majority of OCs do not have on-site building managers or lot owners who are constantly at home to attend to the physical tests.

However, under the State of Emergency all pools in Owners Corporations are defined as communal and public, and therefore DHHS states:

“Public swimming pools represent a risk for the transmission of coronavirus because of the number of people who use them, the communal nature of facilities and the many surfaces and fixtures on which the virus could be deposited. If a pool is at a person’s private residence and is not available for communal use, it can be used without restriction.”


Like other jurisdictions, SCAV has cancelled a number of upcoming face-to-face educational opportunities. SCAV is committed to continuing the education program for members and is shifting the mode of delivery to host webinars. We arranged a number of small group online forums with Cladding Safety Victoria. 

For those members with buildings under management with combustible cladding, regardless of the rating, we welcomed their participation to learn more about the Victorian Building Authority process and the role of Cladding Safety Victoria. The first opportunity was held 25th March and the second on the 8th April.

SCAV Webinar: COVID-19 Series – Episodes 1-5

SCAV is working alongside our members to source the information needed to keep them, their staff and clients safe. These webinars have been provided free of charge and focus on strata meetings, business continuity and operations and committee governance. We are also exploring alternate methods for convening and conducting meetings; Buildings – Develop your own Pandemic Management Plan; and Impacts on Business Operations Recession planning.

Training or Qualified in Training and Assessment?

SCAV is calling out for interested strata industry, subject matter experts who are keen to work alongside us to develop and deliver education. SCAV is currently negotiating with potential tertiary partners to redevelop, refine and re-energise the Certificate IV in Strata Community Management. All new educational opportunities and resources will link to the SCAV Strata Workforce Competency Framework. Which, in turn, extends to the alignment of modules with national qualifications, delivery of industry Diplomas and development of higher qualifications.

Pets in Properties

Victorian renters are able to keep a pet in their rental property provided they have obtained written consent from their rental provider. The new laws, passed 2 March 2020, will make it easier for both renters and rental providers to understand their rights and obligations when it comes to allowing and keeping pets in a rental property. If a rental provider believes there is reasonable grounds to refuse consent, they will have to seek an order from VCAT to do so. VCAT will take various things into account when determining whether it is appropriate for a pet to be kept in a rental property.


RMIT University is seeking to hear from people in the Strata Community about their experiences with combustible cladding. This is research study and would involve a recorded conversation in-person or over the phone for up to one-hour. Discussion topics include: the challenges in managing affected buildings; the social effects within the buildings; and implications for health and well-being of OC Managers. For more information, please email to indicate your interest in participating.

Maree Davenport 


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