Caretaking 101: Continue professional development

Linda Kypriadakis - Diverse FMX Caretaking 101: Continue professional development

Do you really know everything there is to know about caretaking and facilities management?

Caretaking and facilities management is increasingly becoming recognised as a profession. It is no longer the domain of the ‘handyman’, or the semi-retired tradie or ex-police officer, looking for an easier lifestyle in a beachside resort somewhere. Caretaking and management of residential strata properties, holiday resorts, and mixed-use commercial properties is often a thankless task – and definitely a lot harder than it looks.

15 years ago, things were quite different. There was not nearly as much legislation imposing new duties on Caretakers – or intensifying existing duties – as there is today.  There have been at least a dozen significant legislative updates that now require building managers to do more than they used to - and acquire the corresponding skills to properly deliver these duties to (at least) the minimum objective standard.

The past 15 years have seen changes to fire legislation, pool standards, electrical safety provisions, plumbing codes, the Building Code of Australia, Work Health & Safety legislation as well as the strata legislation in some states. Many of these changes require bodies corporate and their designated building management team to implement different or new outcomes into their maintenance regimes.

If a Caretaker has a generic agreement requiring the Caretaker to (for example) “maintain the common property” it could be argued that the Caretaker is responsible for implementing all requirements of any-and-all legislative reform affecting the care of common property throughout the life of the term of the Caretaking Agreement. This would theoretically require the caretaking services provider to remain abreast of all legislative reform affecting common property and ensure implementation of duties to deliver compliance for the full term of the engagement.

Goodness!  What a burden…

So how does a caretaker or facilities manager keep up with legislative reform?

Most building managers are aware of the ABMA Building Management Code, which is the guidebook to existing legislation and ‘best practice’ standards effecting the maintenance and care of common property for residential and mixed-use commercial schemes, but for those building managers reading this who are unaware of the ABMA Building Management Code, it would be a good idea to become a subscriber and get a copy of the current edition straight away. Go to www.abma.org.au for more information.

The ABMA is a not-for-profit community organisation incorporated to provide information via the ABMA Building Management Code to those that have influence over the caretaking or facilities management of residential strata properties, including updates on legislative reform relating to the maintenance and care of common property.

Edited and updated annually by the national Independent Review Panel, the ABMA Building Management Code provides information on any updates having occurred in the prior year that may impose new or intensified duties on the caretaking or facilities management services provider for the common property.  It is considered the ‘bible’ for maintaining the common property and relevant to caretakers, facilities managers, committees, and strata managers (that issue work orders, etc.) alike.

So, what changes have occurred in the past 15 years?

If you are currently working from a Caretaking Agreement that was produced prior to 2015, it is now very likely to be out-of-date and possibly will not incorporate all the current legislation imposing or intensifying duties relating to the care of common property.  This means you are either:

1.           Not performing all the duties required to keep the common property compliant under evolving legislation, Australian Standards and/or industry ‘best practice’ requirements, OR

2.           Performing these additional or intensified duties, but not getting remunerated for it.

Either way, there may be a risk to both:

A.          The body corporate –risk of exposure to legislative non-compliance due to failure to implement the new or amended standard; and

B.          The caretaking or facilities management services provider – Risk of exposure to being joined as a contributor or liable party should an adverse event occur on the common property and you are unable to produce evidence of vigilance under new or amended standards.

Examples of recent legislative reform – what duties are now required that weren’t around before?

•            Fire Standards – In some states, evacuation planning and training is now required.  Interface testing required under AS1851

•            Pool legislation – Safety certification now required, daily pool water testing, weekly spa water refresh, etc.

•            Electrical Safety – Push button testing of RCDs, thermographic surveying, etc.

•            Occupational Licensing – Queensland requires project managers to be QBCC Licensed – including Caretakers coordinating and arranging building works over $3,300

•            Cladding – Combustible cladding risk-related legislative reform adding duties to bodies corporate and Caretakers

•            WHS legislation – Imposing PCBU status on those that have influence and/or control over the common property workplace

Details on regulatory compliance requirements for the maintenance and care of the common property is detailed in the ABMA Building Management Code: Chapter 24 “Regulatory Compliance via Self-Assessment”

Who pays for the ‘extra’ duties?

A very good question!   This article cannot deal with the answer to this question, save for recommending that you obtain legal advice ASAP if you are a party to a Caretaking Agreement that hasn’t been reviewed prior to 2015.

Self-Assessment Test for Caretakers, Facilities Managers and Strata Managers.

If you are a service provider that supports bodies corporate or owner’s corporations in maintaining and/or managing their common property then you are offering a (skilled) professional service, but the question is: Do you have the competency to deliver that service?

The quickest way to test your skills and knowledge against the required competency benchmark is to complete the ABMA online “audit” Building Compliance Self-Assessment Tool on the ABMA website.

Continuing professional development for caretakers, facilities managers and strata managers

If you are a competent building manager, you will find the ABMA Building Compliance Self-Assessment Tool a breeze to complete; however, if you are unable to successfully complete the online audit tool, then you may not have all the skills and knowledge necessary to deliver your job as a building manager, caretaker, facilities manager or person of influence and control over a common property workplace.

Take the challenge and test your skills today!

Remember, there are dozens of skills developments (short or long) courses that focus on facilities management and caretaking of residential strata and mixed-use commercial properties in all states and territories of Australia. If you cannot successfully complete the ABMA Building Compliance Self-Assessment Tool, make 2021 your year for continuing your professional development through relevant training workshops. 

The easiest place to start is with the ARAMA Management Rights Induction Training Program (MRITP) or the ABMA Certificate of Building Management. These are both one day short courses tailored to introduce participants to their role as caretaking services providers or facilities managers.

For further information on continuing professional development courses for residential strata caretakers, FMs, committee members and strata managers, please contact the ABMA at training@abma.org.au


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