WA President Report
The last year has easily been the most challenging to navigate through since I stepped into the role as President four years ago. In saying this, I have been overwhelmed by the contribution from the Board, our staff and members who have stepped up and assisted during these unprecedented times.
For all of us, navigating through a once-in-a-century pandemic has certainly been interesting. Throwing in the long-awaited Reforms has been testing and adding in the necessary restructure of our office has really pushed us to our limits.
I honestly believe that all these elements will contribute towards SCA (WA) becoming a far more efficient and effective Association. We are not there yet, there are still elements that need work; however, the building blocks are all there and over the coming months we should hopefully put most of the obstacles behind us.
A Year in Review
SCA (WA) was primarily focused on the General Regulations throughout 2019 and wanting to see a more balanced outcome around the operation and management of schemes. Our legal submission to Landgate saw the introduction of Regulation 91 which addressed some of our concerns around Section 143(5)(a) to the Act. We unfortunately did not achieve the desired outcome around education qualifications, however, our numerous submissions and meetings with the Honourable Minister Wyatt on this point did see the required number of units of the Cert IV for Strata Community Management increase from three to eight. In addition to these notable successes, there were numerous other changes brought about by the many submissions made by the Legal Affairs and Public Policy Committee who all worked tirelessly in ensuring a more effective outcome was achieved.
Last year also saw a changing of the guard and we regrettably saw the departure of Kara Grant and Sasha Costanzo who were instrumental in the successes which SCA (WA) attained during their time with the Association. We added Debbie Morley, Melody Pia, Barry Doyle and Rana Sadek to the team throughout 2019 and early 2020 to continue driving this growth, improved services and training.
While the Covid-19 crisis was somewhat all-consuming from March of this year, the Board were incredibly quick to act. We undertook a strategic review of our key deliverables, namely education, advocacy and member support. In wanting to ensure we could effectively and efficiently realise these goals we saw an opportunity to consolidate the delivery of our services by outsourcing a number of administrative and office management duties to the National SCA office and prioritise our investment in education. We were incredibly lucky that Catherine Lezer from the Board was able to step in and administer these changes within the office. Unfortunately, it did result in the General Manager position becoming redundant and unfortunately, Barry Doyle’s services were no longer required.
We have now centralised our administrative services under the leadership of Alisha Fisher, CEO for SCA National with assistance from her team, namely, Claudia Montiel, Operations Manager who has worked tirelessly in helping us migrate onto the new webpage and the new online member platform.
With the significant contribution from Debbie Morley our education officer until early July, along with Melanie Dureya, the convenor of the Education Committee and Mark Atkinson, we were able to transform our Reform Training materials into online webinars which have been very well received by our members. With our priorities more focused around education, it became clear that Debbie’s role had evolved beyond one to two days a week and had matured into a four to five day a week role. Unfortunately, with Debbie’s other duties, she was unable to take this role. Debbie’s passion for education, coupled with her strata knowledge and desire to improve the industry is very hard to replace and we thank her for her numerous successes and unwavering commitment to this role.
Saying this, we welcome Theresa Boylan to the SCA (WA) team as our full-time education office. Theresa is a qualified trainer in the Real Estate Cert IV and was a senior lecturer at West Coast Property Training. More recently, Theresa has been working as a project co-ordinator at NBN Co., however, it was her passion to get back into training that convinced us we had found the perfect candidate.
To ensure a high level of member engagement and service, we have also added Lisa Kneebone to our team. Lisa’s role will also include driving sponsorship and improving our stakeholder engagements.
SCA (WA) were also proud to be able to acknowledge All Strata and Richardson’s Strata as the first businesses to achieve the Strata Practice Standards Accreditation Nationally. Added to this was the success of Strata Alliance in winning the National Strata Management Small Business Award for 2020.
In June we also reached the milestone of 1,000 members which is an amazing achievement brought about by a lot of hard work from so many people.
Northern Australian Insurance Inquiry
The ACCC were tasked with undertaking an inquiry into northern Australia to help address concerns about insurance availability and affordability and promote more informed and more competitive insurance markets.
Despite a detailed submission from SCA (WA) explaining the onerous role performed by the strata manager in dealing with claims and renewals, the ACCC concluded there was a need for improved disclosures to the consumer. Further, there was a recommendation legislation governing strata managers should be amended to prohibit strata managers from accepting payments in relation to arranging strata insurance on behalf of their strata companies and should be directly remunerated as a fee for service by their schemes under management.
The final ACCC report is due late 2020 and in anticipation of their findings, SCA has formed a national stakeholder group to prepare further detailed submissions.
SCA WA Convention & Awards Night
On the 8 November 2019, we held our Convention and Awards Night which was another very successful event. There were some amazing presenters and our attendance was up in all areas making it five years in a row that we have seen year on year growth.
The feedback from attendees on the Awards Night was outstanding. I would like to congratulate all our winners, runners up and those who made the effort to submit a nomination. This year we received almost double the nominations of past years which made it very hard for the judging panel.
We met several times with North Metro TAFE to discuss their plans for the Cert IV in Strata Community Management. SCA National is acquiring the learning materials from RMIT for the Cert IV and has been working closely with the Australian College of Professionals (ACOP) on a supplementary Cert IV which can be completed online.
Our aim is to revise and refresh the Cert IV materials from RMIT, bringing them into line with WA’s new legislation, and then to partner with an RTO on the delivery of this course. We hope to be able to deliver the Cert IV in class and it will not be restricted to industry professionals, allowing anyone to enrol. As this will take several months to complete, SCA is working with ACOP to update several of their courses so they will cover WA’s legislation as an alternative.
Community Titles Discussion Paper with Landgate
We met with Landgate end of June to review the implementation of the new legislation, discuss the Landgate forms, and begin providing feedback on the Community Titles Regulations.
The first paper was focused mainly on planning with the LAPP having little to contribute, simply stating that if there was any way for the Regulations to give some consideration towards Local Government Rates rebates to assist owners living in Community Title Schemes that may be liable twice for the provision of essential scheme amenities, then this would be a good thing.
The new legislation has not been an easy adjustment. The drafting in places is ambiguous and there are a few errors. The inclusion of s. 118, requiring the authorisation by the strata company for individuals to execute documents, is an unreasonable requirement when we only have six months to resign our management agreements. I am certain all strata companies would have failed to comply with this section as of 1 May.
I would encourage strata managers and strata companies to do the best they can in implementing the new Reforms, with the understanding regardless of the challenges thrown at us by Covid-19, there should have been longer transition periods for most new elements in the Reforms.
Following our discussions with Landgate, there will be further updates to their online forms, so please ensure you are regularly checking their website each time you need to utilise one of their templates.
The Year Ahead
With the success WA has had in managing Covid-19, I am incredibly pleased to be able to say we will now be going ahead with our Convention and Awards night in November. We also hosted a sundowner in the second week in August, which included a very insightful presentation from Sean Macfarlane on improvement to common property and other reform challenges. It also provided the first face-to-face opportunity for us all to come together to network and discuss the challenges we have been facing since March and with over 135 in attendance it was a resounding success.
Our new webinar format has also been very well received with almost 100 participants at the latest event held first week in July. While we will begin to start hosting open forum training, our preference will be to continue to hold the online webinars. We have a range of experts lined up to deliver on some great topics for our webinars and face-to-face events to come.
The financial year ahead is hard to predict, although, we are expecting social distancing and restrictions on travel will be with us for some time to come still. However, the commitment from strata managers, not just from WA, but throughout Australia and New Zealand to ensure our schemes are made safe, are efficiently managed and the well-being of our clients is handled to the best of our ability during unprecedented times has been astounding.
With over $530,000 in cash and funds on deposit and a surplus budget of nearly $40,000, as opposed to a budgeted deficit of $100,000, we are focused on delivering significantly reduced pricing on all events and training throughout the 2020/21 financial year. We have also added additional staff to ensure a high level of service to members and to drive our primary strategic goal in education the strata industry, while still achieving savings under these cost centres.
I would like to thank the Association for honouring me with the opportunity to be the President over the last four years, it has truly been an amazing ride. I have been supported by so many people throughout my term, too many to name individually. Thank you to the volunteers that give up so much of their time for the betterment of our industry, however, I would not have made it this far if it was not for the Board, thank you.
SCA (WA) President