In her second post to Flat Chat, Julie McLean, President of SCA Victoria (the strata professionals’ body), wonders why the state’s strata owners’ and residents’ desperate cries for help go unanswered.
“Who you gonna call?” Would a call to Ghostbusters help Victorian strata owners? Help is just as likely to come from them as from any form of government, at least in the foreseeable future.
Despite Daniel Andrews proclaiming Victoria as “the most progressive state in the nation” on election night, Victoria sadly lags behind in everything strata. If we are the most progressive state in the nation, why are we the last of the large states to acknowledge the importance of the one in four people who live in strata properties?
Currently, Victorians have no reliable website or accessible agency to consult to inform themselves about the complex matters they are facing. Consumer Affairs shut down their telephone service and has not been reinstated, and the website is out of date.
The VCAT waiting list for a hearing is over 12 months due to the backlog of rental disputes. Dispute Settlement Victoria stopped taking complaints from owners in strata and only reinstated online dispute support this year.
In Western Australia, a jurisdiction with only one-quarter of the number of people living in strata as Victoria, the government has introduced a helpline that has managed 7,284 enquiries since its establishment in March 2021. Imagine the pent-up demand Victoria has!
NSW has appointed a Building Commissioner, Property Commissioner, and possibly, it is rumoured that a Strata Commissioner is next.
Queensland has long had a Body Corporate Commissioner who does an excellent job of education, help, mediation, and adjudication of disputes. It is time the “most progressive state in the nation” caught up.
RMIT has been engaged to investigate the potential for a pre-VCAT complaints/grievances consumer agency to better represent the sector, akin to an Ombuds office or Commissioner’s office.
This will assist SCA in advocating with strata stakeholders to explain the need for an independent complaint and education agency such as a Victorian Office of the OC Ombuds/Commissioner.
The first stage of this project will be presented at the International Research Forum on Multi-owned Properties from 24th to 26th May 2023.
SCA (Vic) has united with Owners Corporation Network (OCN), Southbank Residents Association (SRA), Southbank3006, and We Live Here to have better support for the 1.6 million Victorians living in strata.
We’re making the call – but is anyone in government listening?