Victorian Policy & Advocacy Update

The latest Victorian advocacy and policy updating including the COVID-19 restrictions update and more.

EXITING VICTORIA’S JULY 2021 COVID-19 OUTBREAK LOCKDOWN No. 5.

With Victoria’s exit at 11:59pm last Tuesday July 27 from its fifth Covid-19 pandemic lockdown:

  • All indoor and outdoor construction and renovation work can resume at occupied and unoccupied premises and Authorised Providers and Authorised Workers lists are no longer applicable.
  • If you can work or study from home, you should continue to do so. If you can’t work from home or another suitable premise, you can go to work.
  • Office-based work is capped at 25 per cent or a maximum of 10 people, whichever is greater. A density quotient of one person per four square metres applies in shared spaces and publicly accessible areas.
  • Workers must wear a face mask indoors and outdoors at all times, unless they have a lawful reason not to wear one.

Members who lease the premises where their studios or practices are located may be interested to hear that the Victorian Government has announced the reintroduction of the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme. Eligibility includes businesses with an annual turnover of less than $50 million and a decline in turnover of at least 30 per cent due to coronavirus. Legislation will shortly be introduced to enact the scheme which will be active from today. Under the scheme:

  • Landlords will be required to provide proportional rent relief in line with a business’s reduction in turnover.
  • Tenants and landlords will be encouraged to enter negotiations directly, with the Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) available to provide mediation if parties cannot reach satisfactory agreement. Landlords will not be able to lock out or evict tenants without a determination from the VSBC.
  • An $80 million hardship fund is to be established for landlords who provide rent relief to eligible tenants (further details to be confirmed).

Tenants and landlords can contact the Victorian Small Business Commission for further information on 13 87 22 or visit vsbc.vic.gov.au.

A new jointly announced $400m funding package from the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments will give Victorian small and medium businesses  extra support as Victoria exits lockdown. It targets not only businesses such as gyms, cafes, restaurants, catering services and hairdressers who have been ordered to close during lockdowns, but also includes a new $85 million Small Business COVID Hardship Fund for small businesses who have not been eligible under existing business support funds.. Small businesses with a payroll of up to $10 million who have experienced a 70 per cent or greater reduction in revenue will be eligible for grants of up to $5,000. The Institute will provide further information as details become available.

CONSULTATION ON VICTORIAN GAS SUBSTITUTION ROADMAP

A three-and-a-half-page submission in letter format was prepared by the Manager, Policy and Advocacy with the collaboration/ input of the Sustainable Architecture Forum and the State Manager. Key messages of the submission included:

  • Focus on electrification program for space heating and hot water heating through a re-focussing of the Victorian Energy Upgrades program which is still subsidising the purchase of new gas appliances.
  • Recognising the ongoing need for gas for certain applications – ensuring that the transition to hydrogen is to green/ renewable hydrogen (manufactured by electrolysis from renewable electricity) avoiding hydrogen derived from fossil-based carbon sources with associated carbon-capture technologies and avoiding bio-methane which is both a greenhouse gas of itself as well as producing CO2 as a combustion bi-product.

The submission can be downloaded here.

CONSULTATION ON VICTORIA’S CLIMATE ADAPTATION ACTION PLAN

The Victorian Chapter is responding to the survey on Engage Victoria to this whole of government consultation. The component on Built Environment Adaptation Action Plans is being led by DELWP. In addition, an online consultation meeting was conducted by DELWP of the Victorian Chapter’s Sustainable Architecture Forum, the Victorian Chapter President and State Manager Tuesday July 27th . Some of discussion points included:

  • Designing new settlements with place responsive designs –  attractive places that incorporate climate change resilience and resolve other planning provisions (e.g. built to withstand flood while still having good street activation)
  • DELWP wish to build skills for new and emerging designers
  • Adapting heritage buildings to protect and preserve while maintaining their heritage attributes
  • Input from indigenous designers
  • Need for good case examples (not necessarily award winning projects) of the above.

If members wish to complete the survey on the Built Environment Adaptation Action Plan as individuals or on behalf of their practice, they can do so on the Engage Victoria website.

BETTER APARTMENT DESIGN STANDARDS (BADS) CONVERSATION VIDEO

Members who missed seeing or wish to re-view the online presentation and discussion held on May 28 about how to design higher density suburban housing that meets the updated 2021 Better Apartments Design Standards can do so on the Institute’s YouTube Channel.

The topics and expert presenters included:

  • How do we make our streets less windy? (Dr Michael Eaddy – Director, MEL Consultants)
  • How do we create welcoming buildings? (James Legge – Director, Six Degrees Architects)
  • How to create a landscape setting (Simone Bliss – Director, SBLA Studio)