NSW Government Response

NSW Governments attempt to provide guidance

There is currently a strong desire from the NSW strata community seeking clear guidance on managing their strata schemes in these uncertain and confusing COVID times. The NSW Government has provided no effective tools for Owners Corporations to minimise Covid-19 risks in their buildings, or clear instructions on what to do in the event of a positive case. A Department of Health spokesman said there was no need for apartment buildings to receive special attention, despite 15% of the State population, and 22% of family households residing in strata. However recent cases like one of Sydney’s biggest apartment towers, the Elan building in Kings Cross, whose 500 residents went into lockdown after a resident contracted the virus, have been left seeking more effective direction from the NSW Government.

What the strata industry is saying

“There should be protocols in place but, when you ask the Department of Health or the Department of Fair Trading, no one can give you an answer. It was bad enough in the last lockdown, but with the Delta variant being so infectious, the dangers are potentially even worse with apartment buildings like vertical cruise ships. But we’re being completely disregarded by [the] government.” – Karen Stiles, executive officer of Owners Corporations Network

“This is now becoming a real issue. I don’t think the government understands how strata buildings work at all. They’re not like houses. You can’t shut your front gate and keep everyone away. Everyone shares aircon systems, heating systems, water systems, garbage systems; everything is communal.” – Ben Mees, general manager of Building Management Australia

Why Heath NSW is failing

“With the Delta variant and its 10-second transmission time, we need to be prepared,” said Don Cangelosi, the chair of a strata committee of a building of 91 apartments in Ryde. He says last year they had a COVID-19 case in the building, and he called the Department of Health to ask what should be done. He’s still waiting to hear back.

NSW Governments failure for strata schemes

  • Currently the only tool provided by the NSW Government for Owners Corporations and Strata Managers is a rudimentary 3 page Covid-19 Plan for the Accommodation Sector, specifically caravan parks, camping grounds, hotels, backpackers, hostels and dormitory-style accommodation. One of the 13 ‘agree or doesn’t apply’ questions is “Practice 1.5m physical distancing where possible”, which gives no specific directions or considerations to effectively accomplish this if agreed with.

            Will you be sued in negligence for not doing more?

  • Owners Committees have a legislative duty of care to their occupants under sec 5B of the Civil Liabilities Act 2002, to take precautionary measures against a risk that was foreseeable, and that a reasonable person knew or ought to have known. It is therefore prudent that Owners Corporations take action against Covid-19 risks (among others) that they uniquely face in a strata scheme. A Covid19 Safety Action Plan is an invaluable tool in this regard.

            We are experts in providing Covid-19 Safety Action Plans

  • We have been providing Covid-19 Safety Action Plans in NSW for over 12 months, as well as extensively assisting the Strata Community in Victoria with their mandatory QR Codes and COVIDSafe Plans over the last 4 months. The Covid-19 Safety Action Plans we provide cover many of the issues that Committee members and strata managers have voiced concerns about. This plan includes clear directions to minimise strata specific risks, a Risk Assessment, a Notification Plan and a Contingency Plan in the case of a confirmed positive case, or a primary or secondary close contact at their scheme. Additional to the Covid-19 Safety Action Plan and property specific QR Code, we also provide State and Federal Covid-19 pdf posters (with detailed instructions on where they should be placed), in depth Covid-19 information including current restrictions, and relevant Legislation and Public Health Direction extracts important for Strata Managers and Owners Corporations to know.

            Breathe easy when you have our Covid-19 Safety Action Plan in place

  • As Covid-19 Strata specialists, our Covid-19 Safety Action Plans alleviate the confusion and headache committee members and strata managers would otherwise face when trying to decipher grey information from multiple Government sources, sometimes contradictory in nature, with no real template to guide their good intentions.