I was listening to the ABC News Radio last Friday and an item came on about strata defects, flammable cladding and the state ministers meeting in Sydney.
The news reader introduced a spokesman for strata owners … Chris Duggan, president of Strata Community Australia.
What? Wait! The SCA isn’t strata owners … it’s strata managers!
OK, OK, calm down. I know Chris and he’s a decent bloke. What he said in the audio, taken from an interview earlier in the day with the ABC 702 Breakfast crew of Wendy Harmer and Robbie Buck, was all good, on point, sensible and right.
But they had introduced him as a spokesman for strata owners. And, to be fair, about halfway through the interview he gently corrected them and pointed out that SCA represents strata managers, but his members are in daily contact with owners so he knew what he was talking about.
Click here to hear Jimmy and the real owners spokesman, Stephen Goddard, talking defects on James Valentine’s Afternoons
OK, how did Wendy and Robbie get the idea that he was a spokesman for strata owners in the first place?
Well, like all breakfast show hosts, they’d have been reading the morning papers before work, probably while they were still in their pyjamas. And there, in a story by my former employers the Sydney Morning Herald, SCA was described as the “peak strata body organisation”.
Well, that description is as inaccurate as it is incomprehensible. As I said, SCA is the peak body for strata managers, not strata owners. And may I say at this point, with all this attention on the defects and cladding, there are a lot of journos running around writing about strata for the first time, who don’t have a freakin’ clue.
Back to the SCA. True, that organisation has an owners section which does terrific work in educating owners about how to make their strata committees work efficiently and truly valuable stuff like that.
But saying they represent strata owners is like saying banks represent their customers.
The OCN can take credit, among other things, for ensuring we ended up with the best Airbnb laws in Australia when we were heading for arguably the worst.
Now, I’m not saying the SCA deliberately try to pass themselves off as anything other than strata managers.
But when I first started writing about strata 15 years ago, they were called, unsnazzily, the Institute of Strata Titles Management (ISTM). Back then, one veteran recalled to me just the other day, their unspoken philosophy was to keep strata owners in the dark in case they got ideas.
They are now an efficient and professional organisation and their industry has come on in leaps and bounds in the past 10 years. But you have to wonder why they chose Strata Community Australia as their new name.
Wouldn’t Strata Managers of Australia be more accurate? But maybe that’s just me. I like a snappy name that says what’s in the tin – Flat Chat, does OK in that regard, I reckon, but someone else got the flatchat.com.au web address before I could get to it (which is why there’s a hyphen in the middle of ours).
That got me I wondering if a simple straightforward domain name for strata owners was available. So, just as an experiment, I plugged into strataowners.com.au … and found myself at a website for a strata management company. Hmmm.
Have look for yourself – they’ll be wondering why they’re suddenly getting all this extra traffic. Oh, and for the record, I am not and never have been a mamber of the OCN.
If you want to hear me and the actual spokesman for the Owners Corporation Network, Stephen Goddard, talking about defects, click on this link to the James Valentine Afternoons radio show.