Monthly Archives: July 2014

Learn to Be Inclusive

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For some time new developments have been alive to discrimination issues for the disabled with special entrances for accessibility devices but what about the ageing? As we age in place, as the health authorities would have us do, the properties in which we live need to be adapted to cope with our frailties and not just our disabilities. The cost of this will have to be met by the owners corporation lest it be suggested that it is discriminating against the aged.  Buyer beware is no answer to discrimination laws. If a new type of opening device needs to be fixed to the pool gate to allow those suffering from chronic arthritis to enter with ease and dignity, then it is a foolish and unlawfully acting owners corporation that would deny this adaptation.

To the extent possible, new strata titled buildings will need to be built for more flexible future adaptation. As buildings become more flexible, of necessity, so too will attitudes of those that live within and manage the shared facilities.

What’s In a Name?

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In the strata world there is much to be confused about. The use of the term ‘strata’ itself is curious. Strata are the plural of stratum, the geological formation. It also has distinct meanings in the ecological and sociological worlds. Broadly it connotes layers, portions or divisions hence its application in Australia to the subdivision of land, buildings and airspace to separately titled property and shared common property and facilities. We could have used the term ‘condominium’ or ‘homes’ as the Americans do to describe these spaces but instead, we chose a geological term. Now it has stuck, as these linguistic accidents of history tend to do.

Learn to Be Understood

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‘We are one but we are many’ goes the patriotic song: We Are Australians. For strata management, as for so many other aspects of Australian public and private administration, this is not the truth. One relatively simple legal concept is expressed across our country in eight different languages, a different one for each of our states and territories.

So what; the Peoples Front for State and Territorial Rights will argue in eight separate submissions; does it really matter that we call swimming attire, cossies in one state, togs in another, swimmers somewhere else and suits in yet another – odd, but does it really matter? Are we lesser swimmers for this oddity? Is our beach culture diminished? Do our swimwear designers suffer for this lack of uniformity? These are the things that make us interesting and break the conversational ice when we move from one area to another. The embarrassment and subsequent ribbing of mistakes made of a cruel and parochial language is part of the national fabric – to be celebrated not denied.

The People for the Abolition of the States and the Supremacy of the Commonwealth in all Respects (you do the acronym), not surprisingly has a different and more complex view of the world. In their perfect world of master planned cities built around a model of concentric circles, there would be one set of laws, one set of forms to fill in and one all powerful public service to keep us in line and definitely, there would be one language. To them a bag is something you carry things in, a port is a fortified wine served after dinner and a suitcase is something used to protect formal attire when travelling. What is there to be confused about?

Learn to Be Compliant

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Compliance is a relatively new industry spawned in the nineties in response to a shift in thinking by corporate regulators from government imposed regulatory standards to the warm and fuzzy notion of self-imposed governance. When the regulator tells you what standards you must meet but not how you must meet them, compliance professionals fill the breach. Those engaged in the pursuit of any form of collective or pooled asset management are conversant with this new dimension of management.

Insurance companies, superannuation managers, share portfolio managers, agribusiness scheme managers, property syndicate and funds managers are all required to demonstrate compliance with laws that cover their field of expertise and are charged with the added responsibility of building and maintaining a compliance culture. Owners corporations manage collectively owned assets and funds worth billions of dollars and have so far escaped the compliance police. A cursory review of any set of books and records of an owners corporation large or small will unearth little in the way of evidence of a compliance culture within strata communities.

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