State Matters - 30 August 2021
Commonwealth Support for Early Childhood Services
I welcome a new support package announced by the Commonwealth for early childhood education services.
Early Childhood Learning was in desperate need of support in light of the significant impacts the COVID-19 pandemic was having on services.
The NSW Government has been in constant consultation with the sector regarding the support they need and multiple representations were made to the Federal Government on their behalf.
As a result early childhood education and care services in NSW will receive similar support from the Federal Government as to what was offered to Victoria last year.
The Federal Government package will be accessible to services in Commonwealth-declared hotspots, who will be eligible for payments of 25 per cent of their pre-lockdown revenue. Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) services will be eligible for payments of 40 per cent.
Payments will be contingent on services:
expecting attendance below 50 per cent
waiving gap fees for all families whose children are not attending
maintaining staffing levels
agreeing to a fee freeze for the duration of support
not accessing other Commonwealth Government funded supports
This support from the Federal Government is in addition to previously-announced gap fee waivers and additional allowable absences.
The NSW Government has placed a moratorium on licence fees for OSHC services on government school sites and continues to offer the COVID-19 free preschool funding program.
End to Blanket Bans on Pets in Strata
During the current lockdown pets are more important than ever, and from 25 August the NSW Government’s new laws will to put an end to blanket bans on animals in strata.
The changes follow a detailed review of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (the Act) and extensive public consultation, focusing on the keeping of animals in strata schemes.
The new laws reflect broad community sentiment from the review, and demonstrate a balanced approach for both residents and owners corporations in keeping furry friends in strata.
A lot has changed since the Act commenced in 2015, including a huge shift to apartment living. Research tells us that Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, with 61 per cent of households including a pet in their family, and 91 per cent of households owning a pet at some point in their lives.
Following extensive feedback from the community we have implemented fair and sensible regulations that prevent schemes from introducing blanket bans on keeping pets in apartments, while ensuring owners corporations can refuse pets where they unreasonably impact other residents.
From 25 August 2021, the new regulations will prescribe a limited list of specific grounds where an owners corporation can refuse a lot owner from keeping an animal in a strata scheme or take steps to remove an existing animal from the scheme. These circumstances include repeated damage of the common property, menacing behaviour, persistent noise and odour.
Owners corporations will also be able to set reasonable conditions through their own by-laws on how pets are kept in their scheme, for example whether they have to be supervised on common property or enter and exit through a dedicated entrance or lift.
Living in strata is becoming more popular and while we don’t want strata residents deprived of the benefits of owning a pet it’s also important the amenity of neighbours and others in the building isn’t impacted. The new laws have been designed to strike the right balance for everyone living in strata communities, putting an end to blanket bans on pets while giving owners corporations clear guidance on how they can set rules to ensure other owners aren’t impacted.
NSW Fair Trading will be offering support, advice and mediation services for residents and owners corporations who are unsure about the new rules and how they apply within their scheme. Unresolved disputes can also be escalated to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal where appropriate.
For more information around the new laws, visit: https://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/housing-and-property/strata-and-community-living/strata-schemes/by-laws-in-your-strata-scheme