VIC State Recap – Autumn 2021

It was this time last year where we, in Victoria, saw the last weeks and days of ‘normal’ for quite some time; unprecedented restrictions, changes and disruption took hold in our daily lives with the declaration of a State of Emergency which was designated as lasting initially two weeks in duration, just one year ago.

Little did we know back then, the extent of how far-reaching these changes would become, how long it would take, and how much we wanted, to bring ‘normal’ back.

Looking back at the start of 2021, while it is immediately clear that while the smokescreen that is COVID-19 has all but dissipated with an economic recovery and a vaccine rollout in tow, it is also clear that there are renewed opportunities for us at SCA (VIC) to provide the best possible advice and resources for our members, while engaging with the powers that be to affect changes that are meaningful and practical to our industry.

Here are some of the highlights of the beginning of 2021 in Victoria.

Owners Corporations Law Changes

18 February saw the passage of the Owners Corporations and Other Acts Amendment Act 2021 through Victorian Parliament, with Royal Assent being granted on 23 February. The Act is effective in Victoria from 1 December 2021.

In principle, SCA (VIC) has supported the vast majority of the legislation; however, we were disappointed with the rejection of sensible amendments put forward by several Independents. In doing so, both of the major parties have indicated that the interests of the nearly one in four Victorians residing in properties under strata title have come second to those of developers.

In spite of this setback, we at SCA (VIC) are undertaking efforts to educate and prepare our members for the implementation of the new regulations prior to 1 December; we are also aiming to secure greater clarity and scope regarding the definition of records to be transferred under handover procedure between outgoing and incoming Owners Corporation Managers, to keep at pace with modern means of communication, as well as exploring short stay accommodation regulations and education standards within the industry.

Embedded Networks Review

The Victorian Government in February 2021 opened its consultation period for the proposed Embedded Networks ban that it took to the last state election in 2018.

In our submission to the consultation, SCA (VIC) identified several key areas of consideration with any future regulations concerning embedded networks, with a view of ensuring that strata communities are not unfairly targeted by the scope of any new legislation, nor any prohibitive costs to meet regulations.

We have advocated for the grandfathering of legacy networks, and support from government for retrofitting of infrastructure where possible, to ease the burden of future costs on owners.

Furthermore, SCA (VIC) has recommended the adoption of the AEMC framework either as a standalone suite of regulations, or integrated into future regulations, to afford greater consumer choice of energy supply at competitive market prices, to strata communities across Victoria.

State and Federal Advocacy Efforts

In the vein of a return to normal, there will eventually come (at the time of writing), a winding back of emergency fiscal response measures implemented by the federal government at the onset of the economic crisis brought about by the pandemic in 2020.

In his first National Press Club address this month, the Prime Minister stated that in response to GDP growth of 3.3%, and a reduction in unemployment to near-pre-pandemic levels Australiawide, that “you can’t run the economy on taxpayers’ money forever”.

Estimates of the impact that a conclusion of Jobkeeper and other stimulus measures will have on unemployment levels, particularly in Victoria in spite of economic recovery, suggest an increase in unemployment levels close to 8%; such extremities were mitigated as a result of the government’s fiscal response last year.

We will continue to advocate for appropriate support at the state level to fill the vacuum left by Jobkeeper’s conclusion, and to ease the strain that any projected increase in unemployment may place upon the industry.

New SCA (VIC) Roles

We have gained four new members of the SCA (VIC) team since the start of this year, and I would like to express a warm welcome to Alexandra, Liam, Mira, and Roslyn. The SCA (VIC) team are comprised of professionals with a diversity of skills and experience across multiple industries.

The knowledge and capabilities of each team member directly contribute to the successes of our advice and advocacy work every single day, and I wish them all the very best in their efforts to help drive positive change and outcomes for our members.

Return of SCA (VIC) In-Person Events

It’s exciting to see the return of ‘inperson’ events with the SCA (VIC) Young Professionals committee hosting a networking event on 18 March 2021 in the CBD. There was a great turnout, and a very enjoyable evening was had by all.

We are also very pleased to be able to welcome new and familiar faces to the upcoming Principals’ Retreat to be held in Creswick, Victoria on the 20-23 May 2021. It’s an event not to be missed and with restricted numbers I encourage you to register your attendance ASAP.

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