COVID-19 Industry Hub

Rolling information, updates and advice about COVID-19, specifically for the Victorian development, building and construction sector.

COVIDSAFE WORKSITE MATERIALS: 16 LANGUAGES

UDIA Victoria has worked with other industry organisations and unions to develop important COVIDSafe communication materials, in 16 languages, for placement in and around all work-sites and real estate settings.

These materials should be displayed on all your active worksites, land sales offices, sales suites, displays and open-for-inspections, in the languages spoken by your employees.

Click here to access these important COVIDSafe materials in 16 languages.

COVID-19 GUIDELINES FOR VICTORIA’S BUILDING, DEVELOPMENT AND CONSTRUCTION SECTOR

Version 8 of the COVID-19 Guidelines for Victoria’s Building and Construction Industry were released on 16 October 2020.

These Guidelines have been revised to incorporate the latest Government Directions, best practice and relevant links to information this document is to be read in conjunction with.

The Guidelines have been developed by UDIA Victoria with a united group of industry associations and unions, and informed by relevant Government authorities including WorkSafe and DHHS. 

For our industry to stay safe and operational, all members of the sector must observe the current Guidelines on all building, construction and development sites.

Click here to download your copy of the latest COVID-19 Industry Guidelines.

QUICK LINKS

  • COVIDSafe communication resources in 16 languages: Click here
  • COVID-19 Guidelines for the Building and Construction Industry Victoria (Revision 8) 16 October 2020: Click here
  • Business Victoria, Construction sector guidance: Click here
  • Victorian Government’s dedicated Industry Liaison Officer, Michael Paynter: Email michael.paynter@dhhs.vic.gov.au
  • COVID-19 hotline for industry: 1800 675 398.
  • UDIA Victoria Roadmap to Recovery: Click here

COVID-19 ROLLING UPDATES

MONDAY 19 OCTOBER 2020

FURTHER INFORMATION ON YESTERDAY’S ANNOUNCEMENT

Yesterday, the Premier announced an easing of Victoria’s COVID-19 restrictions, including some changes to real estate settings in Metro Melbourne. 

Part of the announcement referenced changes for those who work outside, including tradies undertaking outdoor maintenance, renovations and repair work.

Today, UDIA Victoria has received some clarification as to how this affects the building, construction and development worksites specifically.

At the current step in Government’s roadmap to reopening (which came into effect at 11.59pm last night), there is no change to the percent of baseline workforce permitted on-site. Similarly, there is no change for movement between worksites. Changes on these two points will come into effect when we enter the Third Step, due by 11.59pm 1 November 2020.

UDIA Victoria is still seeking clarification with regards to whether display homes, land sales offices and sales suites can open to more than 1 appointment at any one time, with COVIDSafe measures in place.

Update on building and construction outdoors including solar installations at occupied premises.

From today, outdoor work at occupied premises is being allowed. Information on the new Directions and Permitted Work Premises were loaded onto the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) overnight, available here.

This change affects the following services, which must operate solely outdoors with up to 5 people (with an additional supervisor) where physical distancing can be maintained at all times, for businesses with an ABN:

  • Outdoor maintenance, repairs and other building work, including at occupied premises
  • Home renovations and installations (outdoor only)
  • Home solar panel installations (only for outdoor work or in roof cavities with external access)     

In terms of guidance materials, the existing small scale construction guidance should be used for works at occupied residences. Additional materials to support these works will published by Government over the coming days.

High Risk COVIDSafe Plan.

Any construction businesses operating in Victoria is required to have a High Risk COVIDSafe Plan in place. For the purposes of significant construction works at residential properties (i.e. renovations or other works that occurs over multiple days) a High Risk COVIDSafe Plan is required. For short term works (i.e. one day or less), a standard COVIDSafe Plan is required.


MONDAY 19 OCTOBER 2020

IMPORTANT MULTILINGUAL COVIDSAFE MESSAGE FOR INDUSTRY: Can you afford not to follow the rules? It’s tough to pay the bills when your worksite is closed down. 

Over several weeks, you will see important COVIDSafe communication materials tailored to reach our industry’s culturally and linguistically diverse people. 

This is an important campaign by UDIA Victoria and other other leadership organisations in our sector, designed to keep our entire industry informed, engaged, safe and open. 

Access the multilingual COVIDSafe materials for industry here.

This week’s message:

Do you want to be the reason your workmates can’t pay their bills?

Now more than ever, your decisions don’t just affect you. We need everyone in our industry to do the right thing, so we can remain safe, and industry can remain open.

What you need to do:

  • Access the multilingual COVIDSafe materials for industry here.
  • Print the posters, put them up in your workplace, in all languages relevant to your workforce. 
  • Share the social media tile with your community, colleagues, family and friends.
  • Send pictures of this to policy@udiavic.com.au so we can show government how committed our industry is to supporting the COVIDSafe mission. 

SUNDAY 18 OCTOBER 2020

MELB EASES COVID RESTRICTIONS TONIGHT

The Premier has today announced an easing of Victoria’s COVID-19 restrictions, including some changes to real estate settings in Metro Melbourne. 

Key points, from 11.59pm tonight in Metro Melbourne:

  • Travel distance expanded from 5km to 25 kilometres.
  • Work-from-home directions will remain for the foreseeable future. 
  • Real estate auctions are permitted outdoors, limited to 10 members of the public, plus the minimum number of people required to conduct the auction.
  • Real estate: private property, commercial and display home pre-arranged inspections with 1 agent and 1 prospective purchaser or tenant can occur.
  • Worker permits are still required.
  • Regional Victorian property owners can travel from metro Melbourne to regional for fire or flood preparedness; council issued permits will be required and can be sought from Wednesday.
  • We need to wait until 11:59pm on 1 November to take the rest of the Third Step  outlined in Government’s roadmap to reopening. When we  reach the Third Step it will mean we move from “stay home” to “stay safe” directions – with no restrictions on the reasons to leave home.
  • Thousands more Victorians can go back to work – particularly those who work outside including tradies undertaking outdoor maintenance, renovations and repair work. UDIA Victoria is seeking clarification as to how this affects the building, construction and development worksites specifically. We are asking the following key questions: 
    • Can construction increase to 100% of baseline workforce? 
    • What do the changes mean for movement between worksites?
    • Can display homes, land sales offices, sales suites open to more than 1 appointment at any one time, with COVIDSafe measures in place? 
  • Reopening might be brought forward by one week if case numbers remain low. UDIA Victoria will be working with Government this week and monitoring announcements closely to bring you information as soon as it becomes available. 

Read more in our industry alert here.

A summary of the changes, published by the Victorian Government is available:


FRIDAY 16 OCTOBER 2020

V8 OF THE COVID-19 INDUSTRY GUIDELINES HAVE BEEN RELEASED

An updated version 8 of the COVID-19 Guidelines for Victoria’s Building and Construction Industry have been released together with an Explanatory Note and summary of the key obligations for each building, development and construction worksite settings.

These updated Guidelines are effective immediately and anticipated to remain in place for some time.

Some of the key changes to the Guidelines include updates to the requirements for testing, cleaning and disinfecting procedures, COVID Marshal guidance and references and links to government information for our sector.

Click here to download Version 8 of the COVID-19 Guidelines for Victoria’s Building and Construction Industry.

Click here to download the Explanatory Note.

Click here to download a summary of the key obligations for each building, development and construction worksite setting.


THURSDAY 8 OCTOBER 2020

IMPORTANT MULTILINGUAL COVIDSAFE MESSAGE FOR INDUSTRY: Don’t ruin it for everybody. Heroes follow the rules and use their sick days.

Over several weeks, you will see important COVIDSafe communication materials tailored to reach our industry’s culturally and linguistically diverse people. 

This is an important campaign by UDIA Victoria and other other leadership organisations in our sector, designed to keep our entire industry informed, engaged, safe and open. 

Access the multilingual COVIDSafe materials for industry here.

This week’s message:

Every individual has a responsibility to follow the rules to avoid causing an outbreak which would be catastrophic for everyone involved in the industry. Don’t ruin it for everyone. We are all in this together.

What you need to do:

  • Access the multilingual COVIDSafe materials for industry here.
  • Print the posters, put them up in your workplace, in all languages relevant to your workforce. 
  • Share the social media tile with your community, colleagues, family and friends.
  • Send pictures of this to policy@udiavic.com.au so we can show government how committed our industry is to supporting the COVIDSafe mission. 

Access the multilingual COVIDSafe materials for industry here.


TUESDAY 29 SEPTEMBER 2020

UPDATED HIGH RISK COVIDSAFE TEMPLATE: MELBOURNE STAGE 3 RESTRICTIONS

The Victorian Government has today updated the Construction High Risk COVIDSafe Plan Template, adjusted to help our industry implement a High Risk COVIDSafe plan that complies with all of the legally enforceable guidance and detail of Stage 3 restrictions. Access the updated High Risk COVIDSafe Plan template here.

Most notably, you will notice a new direction to allocate a COVID Marshal for each large-scale worksite. COVID Marshals are responsible for supporting site compliance and providing advice on appropriate physical distancing, hygiene and records requirements.

The COVID Marshal must undergo basic infection control awareness training. You can find this training here.

It is recommended that Marshals are also trained in providing First Aid (Level 2).

Multiple people can fulfil the Marshall role, as long as there is always one dedicated Marshall on-site while works are occurring.

More information is contained in the updated Construction High Risk COVIDSafe Plan Template here.

Note: There will be a one week grace period around enforcement while certain aspects of the guidelines are clarified, and industry quickly makes arrangements to comply.

Questions? You can access the Victorian Government’s construction sector FAQs here.

If you have outstanding questions, please email the Victorian Government’s dedicated Industry Liaison Officer, Michael Paynter: michael.paynter@dhhs.vic.gov.au


TUESDAY 29 SEPTEMBER 2020

IMPORTANT MULTILINGUAL COVIDSAFE MESSAGE FOR INDUSTRY: COVID-19 doesn’t stay home.

Over several weeks, you will see important COVIDSafe communication materials tailored to reach our industry’s culturally and linguistically diverse people. 

This is an important campaign by UDIA Victoria and other other leadership organisations in our sector, designed to keep our entire industry informed, engaged, safe and open. 

Access the multilingual COVIDSafe materials for industry here.

This week’s multilingual communication materials focus on the inextricable link between COVID at home and in the workplace.

What you need to do:

  • Access the multilingual COVIDSafe materials for industry here.
  • Print the posters, put them up in your workplace, in all languages relevant to your workforce. 
  • Share the social media tile with your community, colleagues, family and friends.
  • Send pictures of this to policy@udiavic.com.au so we can show government how committed our industry is to supporting the COVIDSafe mission. 

Access the multilingual COVIDSafe materials for industry here.


MONDAY 28 SEPTEMBER 2020

AVAILABLE NOW: IMPORTANT GOVERNMENT GUIDANCE AND FAQS FOR EACH PROJECT SETTING UNDER STAGE 3 RESTRICTIONS

Following yesterday’s announcement giving our industry the green light to get up to 85% of the workforce on-site; and the reopenining of display homes, land sales offices, sales suites and open for inspections (by appointment); the Victorian Government has today released updated guidance and FAQs material for our sector. 

Directions from the Chief Health Officer. 

The Chief Medical Officer has released legally enforceable Directions that implement the guidance and detail of Stage 3 restrictions on the building, construction and development industry, which are now in effect. 

However, Government has advised there is a one week grace period around enforcement while certain aspects of the guidelines are clarified.

If you have any points that require clarification, please send them to policy@udiavic.com.au in the next 24 hours so we can communicate them to government.

View the Directions from the Chief Health Officer here.

Important Government guidance and FAQs for each project setting under Stage 3 restrictions: 

Clarification coming: Marshall for large scale construction.

We are waiting on an update from Government regarding the Marshall for large scale construction, clarifying whether this will be a legal obligation or recommended as good practice. 

High Risk COVIDSafe Plan.

All worksites staying open across metropolitan Melbourne must have a High Risk COVIDSafe Plan AND a COVIDSafe Plan, and they must be in place now. Click here to access a construction industry-specific High Risk COVIDSafe Plan template on the Business Victoria website.


SUNDAY 27 SEPTEMBER 2020

GREEN LIGHT TO RETURN TO WORK; REAL ESTATE RESTRICTIONS EASED

Having reached a 14-day COVID case average of 22.1, well below the 30-50 average required to ‘trigger’ the next step of Melbourne’s roadmap to reopening, the Premier has today announced an accelerated roadmap out of stage 4 lockdowns. 

For our industry, the key changes to the original VIC Gov roadmap to reopening, announced today:

  • ADVOCACY WIN: Display homes, land sales offices, sales suites and open for inspections can resume by appointment with 1 agent and 1 prospective purchaser or tenant. The Chief Health Officer’s Directions will confirm the rules around the easing of these restrictions, which we expect will be released over the next 48 hours. We commend the Andrews Government on engaging with UDIA Victoria and listening to our calls to bring this date forward from 26 October. We will be advocating to have these restrictions eased further ahead of schedule. 
  • Victorians will now be required to wear a fitted face mask, covering the nose and mouth – wearing a scarf, bandana or a face shield will no longer be accepted. 
  • 127,000 Melbourne residents will be able to return to work as of 11.59pm tonight (up from 100,000).
  • Exercise allowed within 5km of your workplace for permitted workers, as well as your home.
  • Curfew removed from 5am tomorrow.
  • Victoria will no longer be held to the dates outlined in the original roadmap to reopening, but rather look at case numbers as the trigger point for the next step. Therefore, based on current modelling, the next step of eased restrictions are due 19 October, rather than 26 October.
  • All primary school students to return to face-to-face learning in the week commencing 12 October.

Details of the Premier’s Statement can be found here.

For more information about what else changes for our industry from 11.59pm tonight, as announced on 6 September, please click here.


FRIDAY 18 SEPTEMBER 2020

ADVOCATING FOR HOMEBUILDER MODIFICATIONS

UDIA National has lodged a milestone submission with the Commonwealth Government explaining how the loss of immigration and population growth will challenge the national economy.

With input and advice from UDIA Victoria, UDIA National has made a strong case for extending and modifying the HomeBuilder scheme to harness domestic demand to boost housing construction and economic activity.  The submission includes Victoria-specific recommendations including extensions which would reflect the severity and extent of the Stage 4 restrictions on the industry and home buyers in Victoria.

Importantly, the submission unveils new research demonstrating how Australia now faces a sustained downturn in immigration and population growth, which usually fuels much of the nation’s economic prosperity and demand for new housing construction. Key points include:

  • Nationally, we will need 50,000 less homes every year over the next five years due to the closure of our international and interstate borders.
  • The Australian economy will lose $17.9 billion direct gross value from reduced residential construction activity.
  • The Commonwealth and State Governments must urgently consider medium term stimulus measures to drive more residential construction activity and to get more people into new housing in coming years.

View the UDIA National submission here.


TUESDAY 15 SEPTEMBER 2020

RESTRICTIONS EASE IN REGIONAL VIC FROM THURSDAY

Great news for our regional Victorians who have reached the necessary “trigger point” to progress to step 3 of Victoria’s roadmap to reopening from 11.59 PM Wednesday 16 September.

That means a number of changes to how regional Victorians live and work.

Click here for details.


MONDAY 14 SEPTEMBER 2020

MELBOURNE CITY RECOVERY FUND

Recognising that Melbourne’s CBD has suffered as we have acted to slow the spread of coronavirus, the Victorian Government has announced $100 million to reshape Melbourne’s CBD in partnership with the City of Melbourne.

Reflecting our reputation as the cultural capital of the nation, a further $30 million will support COVIDSafe events and cultural activities to attract visitors back to the CBD when it’s safe to do so.  Another $40 million will go towards providing physical improvements to the CBD streetscape, which could include wider footpaths, bollards and street planter boxes.

This is part of a $290 million package that delivers further support to the entertainment industry, repurposes Melbourne’s CBD and gives sole traders a helping hand, with particular focus on facilitating outdoor dining.

The package includes $87.5 million to councils and businesses outside of Melbourne’s CBD to make widespread outdoor dining safe, practical and a reality this summer.

Read more.


SUNDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 2020

GOVERNMENT PACKAGE TO SUPPORT BUSINESS ON ROAD TO COVID NORMAL

A massive new support package will see $3 billion in cash grants, tax relief and cashflow support delivered to Victorian businesses.

Over $1.1 billion in cash grants will support small and medium sized businesses that are most affected by coronavirus restrictions including $822 million as part of the third round of the Business Support Fund. Around 75,000 eligible businesses with payrolls up to $10 million will receive grants of $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000 depending on their size. 

To provide a much needed $1.7 billion cashflow boost for businesses, the Government will now defer payroll tax for businesses with payrolls up to $10 million for the full 2020-21 financial year.

Building on that support, the Government will also provide a further $137 million in waivers and deferrals of charges including the congestion levy and increases to the landfill levy. The 50 per cent stamp duty discount for commercial and industrial property across all of regional Victoria will be brought forward to 1 January 2021 and the Vacant Residential Land Tax will be waived for properties that are vacant in 2020.

Read more.


MONDAY 7 SEPTEMBER 2020

ADVOCACY: RE-OPEN DISPLAY HOMES, LAND SALES OFFICES, SALES SUITES & INSPECTIONS

UDIA Victoria has continued our impactful joint advocacy efforts with other industry associations, calling on the Victorian Government to prioritise the re-opening of display homes, land sales offices, sales suites and open-for-inspections, so they can re-open on an appointment basis from 28 September.  

In accordance with Stage 4 restrictions, display homes, land sales offices and sales suites have been closed completely in Metropolitan Melbourne since 8 August 2020 and are open by appointment only in regional Victoria.

Under the Victorian Government’s Roadmap to Re-opening announced on 6 September 2020, these settings cannot re-open until November at best. With Spring being the strongest selling season, and December and January traditionally soft, this puts the future construction pipeline for the 2021 year under extreme threat. 

Click here to read our letter to the Premier of Victoria.

SUNDAY 6 SEPTEMBER 2020

VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT’S ROADMAP TO REOPENING 

The building, construction and development industry will be able to open up at around 85% from 28 September. This is good news for a large industry in our economy, and a flicker of hope that Victorian’s will see the easing of restrictions in weeks to come.

Key points for industry:

  • Stage 4 restrictions (with minor easing) extended until 28 September.
  •  From 28 September, subject to case numbers, the building, construction and development industry can increase its activity levels:
    – Large scale construction projects: Workforce limit can increase to the higher of 85% of baseline workforce, or 15 workers.
    – Small scale construction projects: Specialist contractors can move up to five sites/week, with a maximum of two per day.
    – Early stage land development projects: Density restrictions will ease, allowing 20 workers per hectare.

Important Government guidance for each project setting: 

READ MORE IN OUR INDUSTRY ALERT HERE.


THURSDAY 3 SEPTEMBER 2020

COVID RESTRICTIONS UPDATE

Advocacy in action.

This week UDIA Victoria has been meeting daily with key government stakeholders including senior government Ministers, representatives from the Department of Health and the Chief Medical Officer’s team, the Premier’s team, and industry leaders including employer associations and unions. Together we have presented a phased approach to Government about how the building, construction and development industry activity can safely increase our activity during the weeks following Stage 4 restrictions. 

Click here to see an overview of our Roadmap to Recovery.

Our industry is widely considered to have demonstrated excellence in the way we’ve managed COVID cases and mitigated COVID risk. Our Workplace Guidelines have placed us in a strong position to manage the next phase, and we have not had any COVID cases reported in our industry for the past 2 weeks. 

Government’s roadmap to re-open.

UDIA Victoria is clear on the Government’s position that the re-opening of our industry and economy is likely to be staged and will be driven by the health data and the public health response. 
There are six principles that will guide the Victorian Government’s Industry Restart Approach:

  1. Ensure physical distancing
  2. Wear a mask
  3. Practice good hygiene
  4. Act quickly if staff become unwell
  5. Avoid interactions in enclosed spaces
  6. Create workforce bubbles

UDIA Victoria’s members should be thinking about these principles and how your business and your team may need to change behaviour, or workplace practises to operate in a COVIDSafe way.  Access DHHS COVIDSafe planning information here.

Read the Premier’s media statement: Working together to re-open Victoria – safely.

The Victorian Government will release its re-opening roadmap this Sunday, 6 September 2020.  

Advocacy wins. 

UDIA Victoria is pleased to have secured some practical improvements on how the current Stage 4 restrictions work with respect to commencement and completion trades. These commonsense changes will help address bottlenecks being caused by the current restrictions on:

  • Trades moving around a maximum of three sites per week on small-scale construction sites.

For work carried out prior to the completion of base stage – or for work carried out after the completion of the fixing stage –  workers will no longer be limited to 3 sites per week.

  • Number of workers permitted to safely pour a concrete slab on small-scale construction sites.

More than five workers can be present on site to ensure slab-pouring is completed safely but should be the minimum number possible.

  • The point at which a project goes from being classified as an early stage land development project, to either a small- or large-scale project.

Read the updates on the Business Victoria website.


THURSDAY 27 AUGUST 2020

INDUSTRY’S RETURN TO FULL CAPACITY STRATEGY

UDIA Victoria has joined forces with other peak bodies to send the Premier of Victoria and the Crisis Council of Cabinet an important strategy for the building, development and construction industry to return to full capacity as soon as possible.

The correspondence and strategy paper provides an update on the proactive measures and initiatives our sector has actioned and planned within the limitations of the Stage 4 restrictions.

Most importantly, it demonstrates how and why our industry is equipped to return to the former Stage 3 restrictions. Should a more cautious health-based approach be required for returning to work, the strategy paper also presents joint proactive interim measures for consideration by the Victorian Government. 

Click here to view our letter to the Premier and Return to Full Industry Capacity strategy. 


MONDAY AUGUST 24 2020

UPDATED INDUSTRY COVID-19 GUIDELINES V7

Version 7 of the COVID-19 Guidelines for Victoria’s Building and Construction Industry have been released.

This revision incorporates the new DHHS Directions for Stage 4 Restrictions across metro Melbourne and includes links to full details of the Restrictions and Guidance.
The Guidelines have been developed by UDIA Victoria with a united group of industry associations and unions, and informed by relevant Government authorities including WorkSafe and DHHS.

Click here to access V7 Guidelines for the Building and Construction Industry
 
Click here to access the explanatory note: What’s changed since V6 of the Guidelines

Continuing to comply with these Guidelines; in conjunction with information on the Business Victoria website and DHHS website; will help us facilitate the best case scenario for industry under current circumstances.

Need assistance with the Guidelines?

Industry Liaison Officer: The Victorian Government has, on the advice of industry, appointed Michael Paynter to the role of Industry Liaison Officer, engaged by the DHHS. Please ensure you engage with Michael Paynter for any assistance with the Guidelines, particularly if there are any positive COVID-19 diagnoses on any of your sites.

COVID-19 hotline for industry: A specific COVID-19 hotline has been established for the building and construction industry. This number is being managed by DHHS through a dedicated call centre set up within the Victorian Building Authority. The number is 1800 675 398.


MONDAY AUGUST 17 2020

INDUSTRY WIN: FURTHER LAND TAX REDUCTIONS 

Residential and commercial tenants and landlords will be able to take advantage of more support throughout the coronavirus crisis, including further land tax reductions.

Residential and commercial landlords may be eligible for an increased land tax discount – now up to 50 per cent – doubled from the earlier 25 per cent. 

The Victorian Government will also extend a ban on evictions and rental increases until the end of the year, increase assistance and ensure tenant turnover is taken into account in rental negotiations.

Under the extension, evictions will continue to be banned for both residential and commercial tenancies until December 31, except in specific circumstances. Rental increases continue to be banned for the same period.

Click here for more information.


TUESDAY AUGUST 18 2020

INDUSTRY WIN: NEW VPA FAST TRACK PROGRAM

The Minister for Planning has given the Victorian Planning Authority the go-ahead to set up a Fast Track Program overseen by a Standing Advisory Committee.

The program will fast track a list of 19 planning and infrastructure projects to unlock a targeted 89,200 homes and 107,340 jobs across Victoria.

This is great news for the urban development industry and follows the important fast track work undertaken by the Building Victoria’s Recovery Taskforce.

It is another positive sign that our industry in collaboration with government has proven that a faster, more rapid approach to planning and development approvals is possible, and this should become the norm rather than the exception.

Click here for more information.


MONDAY AUGUST 17 2020

INDUSTRY WIN: UPDATED WORKPLACE DIRECTIONS 

Over the weekend we worked hard with the Chief Medical Officer and Department of Jobs to further refine the Stage 4 directions and restrictions that apply to the building, construction and development industry. Last night, an updated version of the Workplace (Additional Industry Obligations) Directions were published on the DHHS website. The updated Directions from the Public Health Commander came into force at 11.59pm last night 16 August 2020.

In a win for our industry, the ‘early stage land development’ definition has been expanded to include industrial, mixed-use and other development.

In another win, the list of specialist contractors has been expanded so more specialists can attend three worksites per week. This is really important for land development consultants and finishing trades.

Learn more in our industry alert here. 


WEDNESDAY AUGUST 12 2020

UPDATED FAQS ON STAGE 4 CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY RESTRICTIONS

Detailed Q&A’s have been developed by Business Victoria providing more information on Stage 4 restrictions in the building, construction and development industry.

Click here to go to frequently asked questions about the Stage 4 construction sector guidance. 


TUESDAY AUGUST 11 2020

SRO HOMEBUILDER APPLICATION PORTAL IS LIVE

The application portal for the HomeBuilder scheme is now live via the State Revenue Office. 

Click here to learn more and apply for the Australian HomeBuilder Grant. 


SUNDAY AUGUST 9 2020

HIGH RISK COVIDSAFE PLAN TEMPLATE

All work-sites staying open across metropolitan Melbourne must have a High Risk COVIDSafe Plan AND a COVIDSafe Plan, and they must be in place NOW.

Click here to access a construction industry-specific High Risk COVIDSafe Plan template on the Business Victoria website.

Important resources on the Business Victoria website include:

  • Guidelines on how to prepare your COVIDSafe Plan and High Risk COVIDSafe Plan
  • High Risk COVIDSafe Plan Attachment – Construction

Please ensure each and every one of your work-sites staying open in Metropolitan Melbourne areas is meeting the requirements in line with Stage 4 restrictions.

This is critical for industry and community safety, and to do our part to make sure the stage 4 lockdown is no longer than 6 weeks.


FRIDAY AUGUST 7 2020

ADVOCACY WINS FOR INDUSTRY

In the days leading up to Stage 4 restrictions, UDIA Victoria negotiated several important guidance details that will make these 6 weeks more workable for industry, including:

  • The allowance of supervisors and specialist trades to move between 3 work-sites per week. This is far more practical than the 1 site per week limit initially specified.
  • COVID Safe and other important support workers to be excluded from the on-site worker limit, ensuring our industry can have more people on-site at one time, while staying safe.
  • Broadened definition of “large-scale” construction sites, allowing more work-sites to safely have more people on-site at any one time.
  • Confirmation that the 25% workforce limit refers to average daily workforce across the project lifecycle, rather than 25% of the workforce during lockdown. Again, this means more employees can be on-site through Stage 4 than initially proposed by Government, while still remaining safe and compliant.
  • On small-scale construction sites, we negotiated for 5 people to be on-site, plus a supervisor at any one time. Initially the supervisor was due to be included in the 5-person headcount.
  • We successfully demonstrated that public and private civil construction sites are low-risk activities, enabling them to continue operating as they did under Stage 3 restrictions subject to a High Risk COVID Safe Plan.
  • Due to Stage 4 restrictions, the Federal HomeBuilder Grant has been extended in Victoria, giving applicants and industry breathing space through this lockdown period, and confidence that there will be a pipeline of buyer and builder activity on the other side.

This is a remarkable set of advocacy achievements to be delivered in the space of one week, and demonstrates the round-the-clock work we’re doing for industry. For a broader summary of what we’ve achieved over the lifecycle of the COVID-19 crisis, please click here.

Thank you to our amazing members for your engagement and support. UDIA Victoria is now working hard to ensure the Stage 4 restrictions on industry last no longer than this 6 weeks and will continue to update you on our progress as the situation evolves. 


FRIDAY AUGUST 7 2020

CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER LEGALLY ENFORCEABLE DIRECTIONS

The Chief Medical Officer has released legally enforceable Directions that implement the guidance and detail of Stage 4 restrictions on the building, construction and development industry – these come into effect at 11.59pm TODAY, Friday 7 August 2020.

CLICK HERE FOR A COPY OF THE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICERS DIRECTIONS ISSUED 7PM ON 7 AUGUST 2020.

The Directions are detailed, and you need to read them thoroughly.  Here’s a summary of the key points we think you need to know right now:
• All sites must have a High Risk COVIDSafe Plan.

• All employees, supervisors and onsite specialists are prohibited from car-pooling, and are required to limit movement between multiple sites and use enhanced PPE measures.

A SMALL-SCALE construction site is defined as: small-scale construction site is a construction site that does not meet the definition of a large scale construction site.

• Small-scale construction sites must: 

  • reduce the number of people on-site to five people plus a supervisor at any one time 
  • limit movement of workers between different sites where possible, and only with appropriate guidance 
  • supervisors can move between sites and specialist contractors can move between up to three sites per week, subject to enhanced COVID safe practices. 

• A LARGE-SCALE construction site is a site that is:

  • Permitted to be (at completion) more than three storeys high (excluding basement), or 
  • Larger than 1,500m2 floor size, or 
  • Any office or retail fit-out, or o   Industrial, large format or retail use.

• Large-scale construction sites must be limited to a daily maximum of workers on site calculated as the higher of:

  • 25% of their baseline workforce; and 
  • 5 workers. 

•  All workers count towards the applicable daily worker limit with the exception of workers specifically dedicated to oversight of COVID safe functions in the workplace. 

• Baseline workforce is the average daily number of workers on site across the project lifecycle, as derived from the project’s resourcing plan as at 31 July 2020. The resourcing plan and calculation are subject to audit. Project lifecycle commences from the date of on-site mobilisation and ends at handover. 

• AN EARLY STAGE RESIDENTIAL LAND DEVELOPMENT PROJECT is defined as:

  • An early stage residential land development project comprises all civil works undertaken on open air, large greenfield sites that are associated with and preparatory to construction of multiple individual residential dwellings on that site (including site remediation and site preparation works, construction of utilities and construction of roads, bridges, stormwater/flood management works and trunk infrastructure).  
  • Once subdivision occurs, the construction of that dwelling on that part of the site is regarded as a small-scale construction project. For large scale residential development (e.g. retirement village) with a single entity responsible for construction, once dwellings are commenced, it will be considered large scale construction.

• An early stage residential land development project must:

  • Follow density restrictions of no more than 10 workers per hectare. 
  • All workers count towards the density restrictions.
  • Limit movement of workers between different sites where possible, and only with appropriate guidance. 

 The rule for CIVIL CONSTRUCTION is:

  • All civil works and all building and construction activities (whether publicly or privately funded) are subject to the large scale, small scale and early stage residential land development project tests and restrictions, unless those activities:  
  • constitute construction of critical and essential infrastructure (see above); or 
  • constitute critical repairs to any premises where required for emergency and safety (as provided for by the Stage 4 Restrictions “Permitted Work Premises” published on the DHHS website (here https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/business-industry-stage-4-restrictions-covid-19). 

• Critical and essential infrastructure is:

  • Construction of critical and essential infrastructure is not subject to business operating reductions. It means: 
  • (a) construction or maintenance (including civil works and building activities) of critical and essential infrastructure that is urgently required for the purposes of sustaining human health, safety and wellbeing, regardless of whether those activities are privately or publicly funded; 
  • (b) activities prescribed by government from time to time as “State Critical Infrastructure Projects”;  
  • (c) construction and maintenance for the purposes of national security and defence; and 
  • (d) activities that are deemed by Government to have satisfied the test in (a) and endorsed by the Chief Health Officer on a case by case basis. 

• What about architects, surveyors, auditors, building inspectors and engineers? 

  • Workers that provide architecture, engineering, surveying, building inspection or compliance services or statutory functions must work from home where possible.
  • Where these workers are required to attend sites for inspection and safety purposes, they are counted as workers. Workers in this category who need to move between sites should visit no more than three times a week, except where those visits are required to meet a minimum statutory obligation or requirement.

• SPECIALIST CONTRACTORS that need to move between sites should visit no more than three sites per week. All workers moving between multiple sites must observe enhanced PPE and hygiene measures. 

• Who are SPECIALIST CONTRACTORS?

  • Mobile Cranes – Operators and dogman 
  • Concrete trucks
  • Concrete pump operators
  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Tile layers
  • Concreters
  • Gold Class riggers
  • Steel fixers
  • Post Tensioners
  • Truck Derivers
  • Vertical access Riggers 
  • Welders
  • Precast installers
  • Corkers
  • Floor layers
  • Scaffolders
  • Internal glaziers
  • Asphalters
  • Carpenters
  • Plasterers
  • Carpet Layers
  • Sprinkler Fitters
  • Solar Installers
  • Security System Installers 

Further information. Please call the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 55 or visit the Business Victoria website and the Construction Industry Guidelines.


THURSDAY AUGUST 6 2020 CONSTRUCTION SECTOR GUIDANCE RELEASED, KEEPING US COVID SAFE

UDIA Victoria has negotiated several guidance details that will make the next 6 weeks a little more workable, while supporting government’s COVID-19 response. 

Key points: Construction sector guidance.
  • All sites must have a High Risk COVID Safe Plan in place, which includes a requirement for COVID Safe workers (excluded from on-site worker limits). This will help keep our industry open and safe. 
  •  ADVOCACY WIN: On both small-scale and large-scale construction sites, supervisors and specialist trades can move between up to 3 sites per week, subject to enhanced COVID safe practices. This is much more workable for industry.
  • ADVOCACY WIN: COVID Safe and other important support workers do not count towards the on-site worker limit, these include:  
  • ~workers undertaking emergency repairs and maintenance
  • ~staff specifically dedicated to oversight of COVID safe functions in the workplace e.g. workers doing additional cleaning of high-touch points or overseeing the implementation of COVID safe practices.
  •  On all worksites no more than one worker per four square metres of enclosed workspace is allowed.
  •  Employees, supervisors and on-site specialists may not car-pool and required to inform their employer if they share accommodation with anyone working at another high-risk workplace.
  • Worksite limits and COVID Safe Plans will be randomly spot checked and audited. You must have these in place by 11.59pm Friday. 
Large-scale construction sites.
  •  ADVOCACY WIN: Definition of ‘large scale’ has been broadened and for the purposes of these guidelines is:
    • More than three storeys exc. basement, or
    • Larger than 1,500m2 or
    • Any office or retail fit-out, or
    • Industrial, large format or retail use
  • ADVOCACY WIN: Work-sites may have a maximum of 25% of their baseline workforce, being the average daily number of personnel on-site across the project lifecycle, as derived from the project’s written resourcing plan as of July 2020. These worksites can operate with 25 per cent of their daily peak and daily total workforce.
Small scale residential construction sites.
  •  ADVOCACY WIN: May have maximum of 5 people on-site, plus a supervisor at any one time. This means that now, one supervisor is permitted in addition to the 5 people on-site.
Public and private civil construction sites.
  •  ADVOCACY WIN: Public and private civil works will be treated the same under Stage 4 restrictions. This means that land development and civil construction can continue, so we can keep building new houses in Melbourne’s growth areas.
  • Civil construction sites, like all construction sites, are required to have a High Risk COVID Safe Plan. They are not subject to additional restrictions because they are considered low-risk activities, usually in the open air.

Access the full construction sector guidance on the Business Victoria website now.

 Please note: We have been advised that this guidance does not become official until it is issued by the Chief Health Officer in the form of legally enforceable Directions. We expect this to be done tomorrow and will issue to members as soon as we receive them.


THURSDAY AUGUST 6 2020 CLARITY ON ‘PERMITTED WORK’, EMPLOYEE PERMITS

Permitted work

 Employers for Permitted Work Premises may only have employees on-site if it is not reasonably practicable for the employee to work from home and the employer and employee comply with the stage 4 Directions in force.
 
The following on-site operations in the construction sector are listed as permitted in the current Stage 4 Restrictions Permitted Work Premises Table: 

  • Building and non-building construction (including residential)
  • Construction of critical and essential infrastructure and services to support these projects, and other construction in line with restrictions
  • Critical repairs to any premises, are allowed, where required for emergency or safety
Worker permits

 From 11:59pm last night, employers that require staff to attend a work site must issue a worker permit to their employees – this is the employer’s responsibility.
 
All information on the Worker Permit Scheme is on the DHHS website here including:

  •  General info
  • Eligibility
  • Information employers will need
  • How to issue a worker permit
  • Childcare permit
  • Download worker permit form  

You should carry your worker permit (electronic is fine), and photo ID, when travelling to and from the workplace.

Access to onsite childcare/kinder permit scheme

 For on-site employees.
The Permitted Worker Permit (including childcare) form includes an addendum for permitted workers who are still required to attend work on-site and who don’t have anyone else in the household who can supervise their children (i.e. other parent is also a permitted worker, or it’s a single parent household).
 
For off-site employees.
The Access to Childcare and Kinder (Working from Home) form is for permitted workers who are working from home but unable to supervise their children in the course of their duties and who don’t have anyone else in the household who can supervise them (i.e. other parent is also a permitted worker, or it’s a single parent household).
 
Click here to see the Permitted Worker Permit Scheme and Access to Onsite Childcare/Kindergarten Permit Scheme Directions.

Please contact Business Victoria on 13 22 15 if you have a specific question about the Permitted Worker Permit Scheme that can’t be answered by the information on this DHHS page.


THURSDAY AUGUST 6 2020 COVID SAFE PLAN TEMPLATE

Those permitted to continue on-site operations during stage 4 restrictions will need to have a COVID Safe Plan in place.
 
Master Builders Victoria has created a template for the construction industry to use that has been informed by the Building and Construction COVID-19 Industry Guidelines version 6. You can access the template here.


WEDNESDAY AUGUST 5 2020 INDUSTRY WIN: HOMEBUILDER EXTENDED FOR VICTORIA

In light of the introduction of Stage 4 restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne (effective from 2 August 2020) and Stage 3 restrictions in regional Victoria (effective from 5 August 2020), the Commissioner of State Revenue will exercise his discretion under the National Partnership Agreement to provide a blanket extension of 3 months to the construction commencement requirement for the HomeBuilder Grant.
 
This means that all applicants for the HomeBuilder Grant in Victoria have 6 months from the signing of the eligible HomeBuilder contract, to commence construction. The Commissioner does not have discretion to grant any extensions beyond this additional 3 month extension.
 
Click here to view the HomeBuilder Grant Guidelines on the State Revenue Office – Victoria website.

This is a major win for UDIA Victoria’s members, for our entire industry and most importantly, for Victorian homebuyers and homebuilders.
 
It gives applicants and industry breathing space through the Stage 4 lockdown period, and hope that there will be a pipeline of buyer and builder activity on the other side.
 
We have been working tirelessly with the Victorian State Revenue Office and warmly welcome this blanket extension.


TUESDAY AUGUST 4 2020 INDUSTRY WIN: LAND USE VIC CONTINUES THROUGH STAGE 4

UDIA Victoria has today been advised from Land Use Victoria (Land Registry Services) that they will continue to deliver their full suite of services under the Stage 4 restrictions. This is a small win for industry in these uncertain times, as we have been re-assured the LUV is committed to staying open and productive in collaboration with Victoria’s building, development and construction industry.
 
Working together to get your titles faster

 
To further increase efficiency, LUV requests industry give them as much advance notice as possible when planning to lodge any major plans of subdivision so they can plan and resource appropriately. You can find out how to best contact the Land Registry Services here: https://www.propertyandlandtitles.vic.gov.au/contact-us#LRS
 
Managing expectations
 
Due to current circumstances, LUV asks industry to expect and factor in a 7-day turnaround (rather than the standard 5-day turnaround time), when lodging forms for property transactions and dealings (for example, subdivision plans). As always, system efficiency also relies heavily on industry to ensure all land transactions meet the lodging requirements.
 
UDIA Victoria recognises and commends Land Use Victoria for the hard work they’re doing to keep our industry’s projects moving amidst constantly changing circumstances. Our work with LUV demonstrates the importance of all players in our industry to engage, collaborate and support one another.
 
We’re in this together, and we can be proud of the great job we are doing, together.  


TUESDAY AUGUST 4 2020 UPDATE: STAGE 4 INDUSTRY RESTRICTIONS STILL BEING FINALISED

Yesterday’s announcement left many unanswered questions. The Victorian Government is aware of this and we’re working with DHHS and decision-makers to refine the details.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • Directives are being drafted by DHHS, which will govern implementation of the restrictions. These will be released as soon as finalised in the next 48 hours.
  • For now, the only info available is listed in our industry alert: click here to read it. – We’re working through many priority issues for industry, particularly: implications for land development and civil works, 25% capacity rule on large projects, and movement of tradespeople between projects.
  • The changes come into force 11.59pm Friday. We’re working to get you the info needed to enact the changes by that time.

WHAT CAN YOU DO NOW?

  • Read our industry alert here and prepare to comply with staff reduction targets as much as possible, given limited info available.
  • Take steps to enact the appropriate COVID Safe Plan by Friday 11.59pm; info here. 
  • Check DHHS website regularly & subscribe to our email updates.

Take care.


MONDAY AUGUST 3 2020 CHANGES TO VICTORIA’S BUSINESS RESTRICTIONS

The Premier Daniel Andrews today announced that from 11.59pm on Friday 7 August 2020, Victoria’s building, construction and development industry will not completely close, but must dramatically reduce the number of workers on-site for the next 6 weeks. 

This includes: Mandated reductions to the number of workers onsite to allow the industry to keep ticking

  • ​Large scale construction
    • Any building construction project of more than three storeys (excluding basement)
    • Maximum of 25 per cent of normal employees on site compared to normal operations
    • Must have High Risk COVID Safe Plan
    • Must demonstrate not blending shifts and workers can only work at one site during Stage 4​​
  • ​Small scale construction
    • Any building construction project of three storeys or less (excluding basement)
    • Maximum of five workers (including supervisors)
    • Universal COVID Safe Plan
    • Must demonstrate not blending shifts and workers can only work at one site during stage 4
  • State and state civil construction (including time critical new school builds) are exempt from reduction targets but will be required to implement High Risk COVID Safe Plan.
  • Industry will have until 11:59pm Friday 7 August to enact a COVID Safe Plan focused on safety, prevention and response in the event that coronavirus is linked to the workplace. More information on the COVID Safe Plan here.
  • Additional requirements will include extra PPE, staggering shifts, staggering breaks, health declarations and more support for sick workers to ensure they stay home.
  • These changes will be enforceable and the onus will be on employers to make sure they’re doing the right thing by their workers, including ensuring those with symptoms do not come to work.
  • For those businesses and industries that fall into grey areas when it comes to their operation, the dedicated Industry Coordination Centre within the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions will consider their case.

Click here to read the Premier’s statement on changes to Melbourne business restrictions.

Click here to see summary of all stage 4 restrictions for businesses and industries. 

The Premier has not ruled out further business support for affected businesses and industries. 

We know what a huge impact these changes will have on our industry, and that there are several outstanding questions. 

We will communicate with you regularly as we get more information this week. Stay in touch by checking our emails, following us on LinkedIn, and you can subscribe your team to our mailing list by directing them here.


MONDAY AUGUST 3 2020 MESSAGE FROM THE CEO: KEEP INDUSTRY OPEN THROUGH STAGE 4 RESTRICTIONS

Our CEO Danni Hunter has written to industry members, recognising what an incredibly important day this is for our industry and outlining our advocacy activities over the last 24 hours.

Click here to read the message from the CEO.

We are doing everything we can to make a case to the Victorian Government sundayto maintain our essential industry status.

We are urging the Government to keep the industry open as an essential industry, but with enhanced worksite management practises and mandatory, consistent contact tracing.

  •  Over the past 24 hours, we’ve been briefing, advising and negotiating with the Premier, senior Ministers, key advisors, departmental heads and public servants non-stop.  
  • UDIA Victoria is proposing a highly controlled and scaled down building, construction and development sector that reflects the seriousness of Stage 4. In scaling down the number of individuals on a site, we have requested an extension of worksite hours. 
  • We’ve sent a letter to to the Premier and a Briefing Paper, containing several key recommendations to enhance worksite measures including mandatory contact tracing consistently applied across the industry. These will be key to building on the strong work already being done by industry and to guaranteeing low levels of cases on worksites.
  • We are confident that we have made a strong case for the Victorian Government to maintain the building, construction and development industry as an essential industry through the Stage 4 restrictions.

SUNDAY AUGUST 2 2020 CHANGES TO VICTORIA’S RESTRICTIONS

The Victorian Government today announced we are moving to a new set of lock-down rules to limit movement and the number of people we come in contact with over the next six weeks. 

Click here to read the Premier’s statement on changes to Melbourne’s restrictions.

Click here to read the Premier’s statement on changes to regional restrictions.

Tomorrow the Victorian Government will be making additional announcements about how work will change, and how industries will be impacted. The announcements are expected to affect industries in one of three ways:  

  1. No impact: Some industries and businesses including supermarkets and medical services,  will stay open.
  2. Reduce total output: Other industries will reduce total output by having less people working less shifts, leading to less contact between people.
  3. Close completely: There will be industries that will close completely.

UDIA Victoria has spent the last 24 hours conferencing almost hourly with senior Ministers including the Treasurer and Planning Minister, as well as senior advisors to the Premier and senior public servants. 

We have provided advice and information about how the building, construction and development industry has been incredibly effective at managing COVID-19 and as a result, we have seen low numbers relating to worksites, and swift management of any outbreaks.  We have worked with other employer associations, unions and Worksafe to categorically show the low number of COVID-19 cases in our industry, and our swift ability to manage any outbreaks.

Click here to read our joint letter to the Premier, communicating how our industry is staying safe, and keeping many hundreds of businesses viable during and after this pandemic.

We are continuing our advocacy to keep our industry open and operating for as long as it is safe to do so. But we know that further restrictions are being considered to be imposed on the building, construction and development industry.  We are providing advice to those making these decisions about the impacts on our industry and are also assisting with the consideration of the different settings in the industry, and the practical differences between worksites and their ability to manage health and safety measures effectively.

We will update the industry as soon as possible tomorrow about the Victorian Government’s business update and how it affects our industry specifically. 


WEDNESDAY JULY 29 2020 ADVOCACY WIN: HOMEBUILDER BROADENED

In a major win for our members and Victorian homebuyers, UDIA Victoria has successfully advocated for the broadening of HomeBuilder eligibility requirements.
 
UDIA Victoria has worked with the Victorian State Revenue Office (SRO) on how new homebuyers enter contracts under the HomeBuilder scheme, resulting in a significant SRO update that should see more Victorians get the $25,000 grant.
 
Key points

  • Off-the-plan buyers now have over 24 months (until October 31, 2022) to have their name registered on the certificate of title. Buyers will be paid the $25,000 once registered on the title.
  • For contracts to build, buyers must be registered on title as owner of the land by no later than the laying of foundations and the first progress payment is made. The grant will be paid at this point.  
  • SRO has made clear that buyers who signed contracts before June 4, are not eligible for the grant, and warned against cancelling contracts in an attempt to take advantage of the grant. This is an important update that should encourage parties to respect contracts that they have already entered.
  • Commencement has been defined as excavation and site preparation works for any new builds, and works under the renovation contract for existing homes.
  • HomeBuilder grant extensions are likely for delays caused by:
    • council approvals
    • obtaining materials or subcontractors
    • bad weather
    • industrial disputes
    • natural disasters
    • serious illness or death in the construction team
  • HomeBuilder grant extensions are unlikely for delays resulting from buyer failure to undertake appropriate due diligence when entering into a contract. This includes if the contracted builder has more work than reasonably expected to be finished in the three months (however warranty insurance requirements should prevent builders from taking on too many projects); and if a developer has set pre-development sales targets that have not yet been met.

This update ensures Victorians counting on HomeBuilder can buy with confidence knowing that as long as their new home settles in the timeframe and construction commences, they will be eligible for the grant. This is reliant on buyers and developers both having a fair and realistic understanding of time frames before signing contracts.

We commend the team at the SRO for working with us to get a good outcome for Victorians.
 
Click here for more information on HomeBuilder eligibility and application processes: SRO HomeBuilder Grant Guidelines.


TUESDAY JULY 28 2020 INDUSTRY GUIDELINES UPDATED

 Updated COVID-19 Guidelines for the Building and Construction Industry Victoria (Revision 6) have been updated to:

  • Incorporate new OHS regulations requiring employers and self-employed people to notify WorkSafe immediately on becoming aware that an employee or an independent contractor or a contractor’s employee has received a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis and has attended the workplace during the infectious period;
  • Clarify that a worker who has been in casual contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus, may be required to be tested;
  • Emphasise the importance of temperature testing;
  • Clarify the need for a worker to get tested if they experience symptoms; and
  • Communicates the Government’s one-off $300 payment available to support workers if required to self-isolate while they wait for test results.

Click here to read the Explanatory Note.

Click here to download the COVID-19 Guidelines for the Building and Construction Industry Victoria (Revision 6)


TUESDAY JULY 28 2020 BUILDING, CONSTRUCTION & DEVELOPMENT INDUSTRY WORKING TO KEEP VICTORIA SAFE 

UDIA Victoria has written to the Premier in collaboration with other industry associations to demonstrate that we can keep our workforce and industry safe, and keep many hundreds of businesses viable during and after this pandemic.We have attached a joint Building, Construction and Development Industry COVID-19 Working to Keep Victoria Safe paper that provides the Premier with further detail of our initiatives and collaboration. The paper also requests that the open dialogue with the Victorian Government continues as we collectively navigate future phases of this pandemic. 

Click here to read the letter and Building, Construction and Development Industry COVID-19 Working to Keep Victoria Safe paper. 


THURSDAY JULY 23 2020 SUBMISSION TO SRO RE: HOMEBUILDER

UDIA Victoria is working with the State Revenue Office and Victorian Government officials as they work to finalise the HomeBuilder application and approval process.

Collective concern for the building, construction and development industry has brought the UDIA Victoria and Master Builders Victoria (MBV) together across a range of policy and industry-led initiatives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have made a joint submission with MBV, and are coordinating an industry meeting with the SRO to discuss our submission. Read our submission: SRO & Commonwealth Government HomeBuilder Package 


THURSDAY JULY 23 2020 NEW MODELLING: VIC ECONOMY

Slumps in employment, trade and economic activity means that Gross State Product in Victoria is forecast to fall by 5.25 per cent this calendar year.

The new data shows the ramifications the health crisis is having on Victoria’s revenue, with taxation and GST revenue expected to be around $8.5 billion lower over the 2019/20 and 2020/21 financial years compared with pre-pandemic forecasts – as a result of lower property tax revenue, declining payroll tax, and reduced GST.

Click here for more info.


TUESDAY JULY 21 2020 JOBKEEPER EXTENSION

The Federal Government has announced that JobKeeper will be extended to March 28 2021, but scaled down over six months from 28 Sep 2020.

Payments will drop from $1,500 to $1,200 a fortnight for full time employees, and drop to $1,000 for FTE by March 2021.

Payments for part time employees (20 hours or less a week) will drop to $750 initially, and then $650.

More info here.


SATURDAY JULY 18 2020 COVID-19 GUIDANCE: MULTI-DWELLING PROPERTIES WITH SHARED FACILITIES 

Residential multi-dwelling developments with shared facilities represent a risk of coronavirus
transmission between neighbouring residents, compared to single dwelling or lower density residential buildings.

This document provides advice to managers and operators of multi-dwelling buildings in metro Melbourne and Mitchell Shire on how to limit the potential for transmission of coronavirus between residents, staff and visitors, and comply with directions issued by the Victorian Chief Health Officer under Stay at Home Restrictions.

‘Multi dwelling buildings’ includes, but is not limited to:
– Low, mid and high-rise residential apartment buildings
– Student accommodation
– Long term accommodation rentals
– Townhouses with shared facilities
– Single room occupancy properties with shared facilities
– Mixed use properties where there is residential component with shared facilities.

Click here to access the guidelines. 


THURSDAY JULY 16 2020 UPDATED HOMEBUILDER GUIDANCE

Updated guidance confirms HomeBuilder applies to sales contracts between buyers and developers (as is commonly the case on off-the-plan apartment and townhouse projects).

The updated guidance also covers:
– Timing of the payment – depending on whether the project is a new build, a renovation, or off-the-plan and new home purchase.
– Confirmation that the states and territories will have strong discretion to extend the three-month window for commencing construction when unforeseen or other delays occur.

Additionally, two technical issues have been clarified:
– All applicants under the scheme must be Australian citizens (not permanent residents).
– There will be limited application to retirement and land lease communities, given they require the applicant to be on the certificate of title and own both land and dwelling.

View the updated guidance material here.

There are two main elements still requiring clarification:

  • – More precise guidance around how the potential for a three-month extension to the window for commencing construction will work, and;
  • – The definition of commencement of construction – which we believe needs to be as broad as possible.

We will be working with the Victorian Government to resolve these issues. 


WEDNESDAY JULY 15 2020
UPDATED VERSION OF COVID-19 INDUSTRY GUIDELINES


An updated Version 5 of the COVID-19 Guidelines for Victoria’s Building and Construction Industry, dated 14 July, has been released today.

For our industry to stay safe and operational, all members of the sector must observe the current guidelines on all building, construction and development sites.

Please refer to the following links to reference critical safety information: Version 5 of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidelines for the Building and Construction Industry​
– Explanatory note – Face masks and temperature testing for building and construction workers

UDIA Victoria encourages all industry members to wear masks in certain activities and undertake temperature testing on sites where practicable. 

Employer associations and unions worked together swiftly in the first wave of COVID-19, and we are doing so again. The guidelines have been developed by UDIA Victoria in conjunction with a united group of industry associations and unions, and informed by relevant Government authorities including WorkSafe and the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. 


WEDNESDAY JULY 15 2020
COVID-19 INDUSTRY CONTACTS

Industry Liaison Officer: The Victorian Government has, on the advice of industry, appointed Michael Paynter to the role of Industry Liaison Officer, engaged by the Department of Health and Human Services. Contact Mr Paynter here.

  • COVID-19 hotline: A hotline has been established for the building and construction industry. This number is being managed by DHHS through a dedicated call centre set up within the Victorian Building Authority. The number is 1800 675 398.

FRIDAY JULY 10 2020

MORE PUBLIC TRANSPORT SERVICES 

The Victorian Government is adding hundreds of new train and tram services to the state’s busiest lines every week to give passengers more choice on when they travel and help maintain physical distancing across the network.

From Monday 13 July, 95 extra train services on either side of the morning and afternoon peaks will be added to the metropolitan network each week, making it easier to stagger travel times and physically distance on services.

The Sunbury, Craigieburn, Werribee, Mernda, Dandenong, Ringwood and Glen Waverley lines will each get an extra 10 services per week and the Hurstbridge line will see five new services each week.

The Frankston and Sandringham lines will also get an extra 10 services per week from Monday 27 July, once level crossing removal works on the Frankston line are complete.

On the tram network, two new shuttle routes will run along Collins St – one during weekday peak periods along St George’s Road, Brunswick Street and Collins Street using large E Class trams, and the second for up to 19 hours each day between Victoria Harbour and St Vincent’s Plaza via Collins St.

To reduce congestion on Collins Street, Route 30 will be replaced with the Route 12 which will be diverted to La Trobe Street, providing alternative travel options within the CBD and additional capacity on La Trobe Street.


FRIDAY JULY 10 2020

EXTRA GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR VIC BUSINESSES 

The Victorian Government has announced a $534 million Business Support Package.

The latest measures include cash grants for struggling businesses, mental health support for business owners and tailored advice for businesses to adapt, stay afloat and then bounce back on the other side.

Businesses will benefit from an extended and expanded payroll tax deferral. Eligible businesses with payrolls up to $10 million can defer their liabilities for the first half of the 2020/21 financial year.

The Government will expand the Business Support Fund (previouslt available to the 12 postcodes linked to outbreaks) and provide more than 80,000 eligible businesses with a new $5,000 grant to support them through the renewed restrictions.

A $26 million investment in mental health support will ensure Victorians dealing with the compounding challenges of running a small business can get the support they need as they navigate their way through the crisis.

Many businesses will need to change the way they do things in order to remain sustainable, while others are dealing with challenges such as cash flow, reduced sales and debt for the very first time. The Government will establish a $10 million business mentoring program, pairing small business owners with experienced professionals who can help them navigate their way through the crisis.

The package also provides a $40 million capped fund for regional tourism businesses to cover the costs of refunds, as well as marketing campaigns to boost region to region visitation while Melbourne is locked down. 


TUESDAY JULY 7 2020
SUMMARY OF RESTRICTIONS FOR INDUSTRY: RETURN TO STAGE 3

From 11.59am Wednesday 8 July, Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will return to Stage 3 “stay at home” restrictions. For Victoria’s urban development industry operations specifically, this affects:

  • Display homes 
  • Land sales offices 
  • Sales suites 
  • Open-for-inspections 
  • Auctions 

These operations will go back to operating remotely as much as possible, and inspections by appointment. 

Building, development and constructions worksites will remain open as an essential service and must operate under the most recent version of the COVID-19 Industry Guidelines.

  • Download your copy of the COVID-19 Guidelines for Victoria’s Building and Construction Industry (version 4, updated 24 June 2020): Click here.
  • Find out what’s changed since the previous Industry Guidelines in the Explanatory Note: Click here.

If you are a member of UDIA Victoria with essential employees travelling across restricted areas to a worksite, please contact us to obtain a letter your employee(s) can present on request. To obtain this letter, you must confirm you are a member of UDIA Victoria for 2020-21. Please email us on admin@udiavic.com.au.

Statement from the Premier including summary of changes to restrictions: Click here


WEDNESDAY JULY 1 2020
VICTORIA’S CONTINUED COMMITMENT TO THE CONSTRUCTION SECTOR
Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas has reaffirmed the importance of the building, construction and development sector to the Victorian economy.

In his Statement of Continued Commitment to the Construction Sector, the Treasurer thanks the industry for keeping many Victorian workers safe and for staying open through the pandemic.

He commits to continuing the collaborative approach that has guided us all well during the crisis period.

UDIA Victoria continues to work proactively and productively with the Victorian Treasurer and the Victorian Government on behalf of our members.


TUESDAY JUNE 30 2020
UDIA VICTORIA CALLS FOR OVERHAUL OF VACANT RESIDENTIAL LAND TAX
We have developed a strong case for Government to consider overhauling the Vacant Residential Land Tax. 

The impacts of COVID-19 on the rental market and on developers is likely going to increase the vacancy levels of new residential dwellings, and the VRLT will act as a disincentive to development activity. We have therefore called for the VRLT to be scrapped in order to remove this burden on new residential dwellings.

Click here to read our case for reform.


WEDNESDAY JUNE 24 2020
UPDATED VERSION OF COVID-19 INDUSTRY GUIDELINES
An updated version of the COVID-19 Guidelines for Victoria’s Building and Construction Industry has been released.

The increase in positive coronavirus cases in the community, brings a heightened risk of COVID-19 appearing on site, but with continued diligence in applying the most current Industry Guidelines, including effective screening of workers coming to site, physical distancing etc., sites can be safe from transmission. 

Find out what’s changed since the previous Industry Guidelines in the Explanatory Note.

Download your copy of the COVID-19 Guidelines for Victoria’s Building and Construction Industry (version 4, updated 24 June 2020) 


MONDAY JUNE 15 2020
NEW VIC BUSINESS GROWTH FUND

Treasurer Tim Pallas today opened the $250 million Victorian Business Growth Fund – a program that will see Government partner with First State Super and back small-to-medium enterprises who want to grow but can’t raise the funds or find the right investment partner.

The Victorian Business Growth Fund is a Victorian-first initiative that will invest in business on commercial terms and take an equity stake in business, rather than providing a grant. These investments will help drive permanent, high-skilled jobs in priority areas of the economy, including jobs for people who are unemployed, jobs for apprentices or jobs for people attempting to reskill.

For more information about the Victorian Business Growth Fund or to apply online, visit dtf.vic.gov.au/businessgrowthfund


FRIDAY JUNE 12 2020
ADVOCACY PROGRESS: TASKFORCE CONSIDERING MORATORIUM ON TAXES 

The Minister for Planning Richard Wynne has written to UDIA Victoria, advising that he has asked the Building Victoria’s Recovery Taskforce (BVRT) to seriously consider our proposal to place a moratorium on new residential development charges and policy changes during the coronavirus situation, as well as our proposed assessment criteria for fast tracking shovel-ready projects.

The BVRT is currently preparing its advice to government on a pathway forward to Victoria’s road to recovery from COVID-19. We are encouraged by Minister Wynne’s letter advising us that he has asked them to consider UDIA Victoria’s advice. 

Click here to see our letter advocating for a moratorium on new residential development charges and policy changes.

Click here to see our Proposed Criteria for Assessment of Shovel-Ready Projects here.

Click here for more information on the BVRT.


THURSDAY JUNE 11 2020
ADVOCACY IN ACTION: UDIA URGING COUNCILS & VCAT TO UNLOCK $10B OF DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITY 

UDIA Victoria is featured in a front-page article in The Australian today (cont. page 4), advocating for development projects to be assessed faster, particularly in light of the time-constrained HomeBuilder program.

Article excerpt:“There is a pipeline of more than $10bn of development activity tied up in local and state planning processes, including at local council and at VCAT,” Ms Hunter said. “If unlocked, this pipeline could generate close to 73,000 new Victorian jobs.”

The UDIA had previously written to councils at the start of the pandemic, urging them to “keep the doors open for business, digitally and remotely” and continue issuing planning approvals “to minimise disruption and to increase the future pipeline of work to ensure the viability of the industry”. However, reports from members have suggested that, at some councils, approvals have slowed.Click here to read more. 


THURSDAY JUNE 4 2020
NATIONAL HOUSING & CONSTRUCTION STIMULUS PACKAGE RELEASED 
The Commonwealth Government today unveiled its stimulus package to support the housing and construction sector recover from the economic effects of COVID-19.

Click here to read our FACT SHEET.

Summary of key points for members:
– $25,000 to eligible owner-occupiers (not just first home buyers) to build a new home where contract is entered between now and Dec 31, 2020.
– Construction must be contracted to commence within three months of contract date.
– Threshold of $750,000 for the value of the new home (including land).
– Income thresholds: 125,000 for singles, $200,000 for couples.
– The package appears to target titled or near titled land stock.
 

Our research partner RPM Real Estate estimates that in Victoria:

~ There are 2,700 titled lots available now.
~ Based on a 20% stock return to market over 12 months, there would be a further 3,300 lots that could title. This equates to a total of 6,000 dwellings that would be eligible through the pipeline for this grant program if it were to run for 12 months.
– If the scheme runs for a little under 7 months, as proposed, the total is the current 2,700 lots plus 7 months’ worth of the stock return to market (1,950); totalling 4,650.

Please note: Initial calculations referred to by UDIA Victoria were based on the incentive program being in play for 12 months only.

Residential development is one of the first industries to receive a dedicated stimulus package. UDIA Victoria commends the Federal Government on hearing our calls and recognising the industry’s vital contribution to jobs, the economy, and communities right around the country. We will continue to engage with the Andrews Government to ensure Victorians can benefit appropriately from this national package.

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Information about the Government’s plan can be accessed here.

UDIA Victoria’s media release can be accessed here.  


MONDAY 25 MAY 2020

BUILDING RECOVERY TASKFORCE, FAST-TRACKING UPDATE

The Building Victoria’s Recovery Taskforce was established last month to identify and accelerate shovel-ready priority projects that will deliver short and long-term jobs.

The latest major projects to receive approvals include:
• A $290 million, 21 storey office building at 140 Lonsdale Street, which will become the Melbourne headquarters of the Australian Federal Police
• A 68-storey development at 640 Bourke Street, worth $234 million, including 857 apartments, retail space and an art gallery
• A $180 million, 41-storey hotel development at 600 Lonsdale Street featuring 288 hotel rooms, as well as office and retail space
• A 20 storey, commercial office and retail building at 683-699 Elizabeth St located in an emerging biomedical precinct worth $60 million
• A $60 million residential development on the former Commonwealth Games village site at 67-81 Galada Avenue, Parkville.

Together, these projects will create thousands of construction jobs and house thousands more – driving economic activity in the inner-city.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne has also called in from VCAT a $250 million development at 31 Station Street Caulfield, which includes a build-to-rent scheme, affordable housing and a supermarket, retail and office space. The call in means the Minister will make the final decision on the approval of this important project.

The Taskforce is still calling for submissions of priority projects of state and regional significance that could be considered for development assistance, including those that may be awaiting a decision at VCAT or a local council.

Priority projects are being assessed for their capacity to protect and create jobs, stimulate economic recovery, and contribute to broader social objectives like affordable and social housing.

To view the full eligibility criteria for the Building Victoria Recovery Taskforce and to make a submission, visit planning.vic.gov.au/policy-and-strategy/building-victorias-recovery-taskforce.

To learn more about the Building Victoria’s Recovery Taskforce, including the role of UDIA Victoria as a member of the Steering Committee, please see our media release.


SUNDAY 24 MAY 2020

ROADMAP TO RECOVERY: CALLING FOR VICTORIA TO BE THE NEW HOMEOWNER STATE 

We have today launched the UDIA Victoria Roadmap to Recovery, which sends a clear and compelling message to the Victorian Government:
 
The road to economic recovery lies in Victoria becoming the Homeowner State.
 
The Roadmap to Recovery will:
– Enable more home buyers to finally get a leg up in the housing market;
– Keep tens of thousands of Victorians employed; and
– Secure Victoria’s economic future for generations to come.

Five big recommendations are at the heart of UDIA Victoria’s Roadmap to Recovery.
 
1. IMMEDIATELY boost home buyer purchasing power.
Expand existing Government stimulus measures and incentive packages for new housing to boost demand and home buyer purchasing power.
 
2. Lock in 300,000 Victorian jobs.
Revolutionise Victoria’s planning and development approval system to champion projects through the system with more efficiency than ever before to keep 300,000 Victorians employed.
 
3. Unlock greenfield development.
Fast track approvals, and pause policy changes, taxes and charges that will exacerbate the damaging effects of COVID-19, especially in greenfield locations.
 
4. Supercharge urban renewal.
Unlock Melbourne’s potential competitive advantage by supercharging urban renewal and built form development.
 
5. Welcome to Victoria.
Energetically pursue interstate and international migration as a fundamental plank of the Victorian economy as Australia’s borders reopen.

Click here to access the UDIA Victoria Roadmap to Recovery.
 
Click here to read our media release.

Click here to go to media coverage: UDIA calls on Andrews Government to make Victoria the homeowner state.


MONDAY 18 MAY 2020

INDUSTRY WIN: FAST-TRACKING GOVERNMENT CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS 

The Victorian Government today launched the first part of its Building Works package, which will provide $2.7 billion towards fast-tracking government expenditure on building and construction projects.

This announcement represents the start of a meaningful investment program across Victoria, that will help our industry bring forward investment with confidence.

Spending and projects in the package announced reflect a government focus on community infrastructure such as schools, roads, train stations, public and community housing, and investment in our regional areas.  

In our COVID-19 Action Plan for Government, UDIA Victoria recommended that government bring forward their planned building and construction expenditure, and commit to a catalyst infrastructure program that would give industry much needed confidence. Today’s announcement does exactly that and we eagerly await the next part of Government’s Building Works package.  

Click here for more information on today’s announcement. 


FRIDAY 15 MAY 2020

INDUSTRY WIN: 780 NEW DWELLINGS FUNDED THROUGH SOCIAL HOUSING GROWTH FUND  
 

The Victorian Government has announced the approval of 780 new social housing dwellings funded by the Social Housing Growth Fund.  The $1b fund was established in 2018 and has created an investment pipeline for new social housing and will fund the creation of 2.200 dwellings in the first five years.

UDIA Victoria welcomed the announcement from the Hon. Richard Wynne, Minister for Planning, and will continue live discussions with the Victorian Government and the Building Victoria’s Recovery Taskforce, about a broader funding pipeline for social and affordable housing in Victoria.

You can access UDIA Victoria’s submissions here:

Submission to the City of Melbourne’s draft Affordable Housing Strategy (April 2020)

Submission to the Ministerial Advisory Committee for Planning Mechanisms for Affordable Housing (December 2019)


WEDNESDAY 13 MAY 2020

INDUSTRY WIN: DISPLAY HOMES, LAND SALES OFFICES & SALES SUITES CAN RE-OPEN 

UDIA Victoria has confirmed with the Department of Health and Human Services, that COVID-19 restrictions will ease for display homes, land sales offices and sales suites IMMEDIATELY, from Wednesday 13 May 2020.

The eased restrictions mean:
 
Display homes can re-open. You may allow 10 people, plus the minimum number of people reasonably required to facilitate the display home visit.

Land sales offices can re-open. You may allow 10 people, plus the minimum number of people reasonably required to be working in the sales office. 

Sales suites can re-open. You may allow 10 people, plus the minimum number of people reasonably required to be working in the sales office. 

These changes come after Premier Daniel Andrews announced Monday that State Government will ease restrictions relating to open-for-inspections and auctions.

To recap on those changes please see the previous post. 
 
In all cases, the operator is required to keep records of names and contact details of each client, to assist in contact tracing if required.Click here to read our joint letter to the Premier calling for this action. 

Click here for more information on current and changing Victorian COVID-19 restrictions. 


MONDAY 11 MAY 2020

VIC LIFTS SOME RESTRICTIONS

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has today announced that State Government will ease some restrictions from 11.59pm Tuesday 12 May.

The more notable changes include: 

  • New arrangements regarding open-for-inspections. For inspections, you may allow 10 people, plus the minimum number of people reasonably required to facilitate the inspection.
  • New arrangements regarding auctions. Auction houses will be permitted. Gatherings must be restricted to 10 people only in addition to the minimum people required to facilitate the auction. 

In both cases, the operator is required to keep records of names and contact details of each client, to assist in contact tracing if required.

Other changes include: 

  • Up to five visitors at home in addition to the normal residents of a household. 
  • Public gatherings of 10 people are allowed outdoors.

Click here to see the Premier’s media release.

Click here for more information on current and changing Victorian COVID-19 restrictions. 


MONDAY 11 MAY 2020

ADVOCACY IN ACTION: URGING COUNCILS TO EXTEND WORK HOURS 

In a joint letter with MBV to councils across Victoria, we have made the case for a temporary extension of worksite hours. 

Click here to read the letter.


MONDAY 11 MAY 2020

ADVOCACY IN ACTION: POST-PERMIT FAST TRACK PROCESS

UDIA Victoria has long advocated for a solution to the problem of post-permit blockages in the planning and approval system. This is one of the most significant blockage points in the system, and ties millions of dollars in economic value up at any one time.

Once a planning permit has been issued, the permit holder is required to satisfy the conditions that have been imposed by the Council and each of the Referral Authorities. At this point, the substantive issue of whether or not the permit should be issued has been resolved.

The satisfaction of these conditions is a matter entirely between the Council and the permit holder. If the condition involves a Referral Authority, for example Department of Transport, then that authority would also be party to the discussion.

Presently if the Council or Referral Authority fails to make a decision within the statutory timeframe or seeks to impose requirements above and beyond those stipulated in the permit condition, the permit holder has ineffective appeal rights.

UDIA Victoria is proposing that a fast track process be established and properly funded, through a dedicated list at VCAT, set up to deal with disputes following the issue of a permit.

Click here to read our submission to the Building Victoria’s Taskforce co-chairs and secretariat. 


THURSDAY 7 MAY 2020

GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES PROJECT FAST TRACK; YOU CAN NOW SUBMIT SHOVEL-READY PROJECTS

State Government has listened to UDIA Victoria’s calls to fast track shovel-ready building and construction projects, opening up Project Fast Track for industry

We put forward a set of assessment criteria to give industry guidance on what projects are eligible; Government has modelled their final set of priority project eligibility criteria on this work. 

You’re invited to submit shovel-ready projects that meet the eligibility criteria. We urge you to act responsibly in only submitting genuinely eligible projects, so as not to overwhelm the system and discount the success of the initiative. 

Participants in UDIA Victoria’s shovel-ready projects advocacy initiative are strongly encouraged to submit.

DO NOT MISS an exclusive industry briefing on Project Fast Track and other initiatives by the Building Victoria’s Recovery Taskforce, next Friday 15th May. Register now.

Important links


THURSDAY 7 MAY 2020

ADVOCACY IN ACTION: TIME TO REOPEN DISPLAY HOMES, SALES OFFICES & OPENS

UDIA Victoria, Master Builders Victoria and the Real Estate Institute of Victoria is collaborating on numerous fronts in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic as we represent the interests of our members, who together make up the development, construction and real estate industry.

In a joint letter to the Premier of Victoria, we have made the case for re-opening display homes, land sales offices, sales suites and open-for-inspections. Click here to read the letter. 

TUESDAY 5 MAY 2020

ADDED TAX RELIEF FOR JOBKEEPER RECIPIENTS

We’ve commended the Andrews Government on today’s announcement, which includes added tax relief for businesses receiving JobKeeper, and the freezing of a host of fees and fines that are putting added pressure on households during the coronavirus crisis.he Fire Services Property Levy will also be frozen at this year’s collection level.
Click here for more information on the Government’s announcement.
UDIA Victoria is now calling for the Government to gear a similar response in support of the development, building and construction sector.
Our message is clear: Government must pause policy changes, taxes and charges on the development, building and construction sector. The cost of going ahead with new and increased development charges at this time, will be far higher than any revenue these changes would bring in for the State Government.
Read our media release: UDIA warns cost of increased development fees will be devastating.

Click here to read our letter to the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, asking for a moratorium on proposed new or amended fees, levies and taxes, or planning scheme amendments that will increase the cost of residential development.


FRIDAY 1 MAY 2020

NEW COMMERCIAL LEASES & LICENCE REGULATIONS; FREE MEDIATION SERVICE FOR DISPUTES

Commercial Lease and License Regulations have been released to compliment the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020. These regulations will guide the negotiation of lease and license agreements during the six month period of the legislation’s enforcement.

The Victorian Government has established a free mediation service to help small and medium business tenants and landlords reach a fair agreement in rent disputes arising as a result of COVID-19. 

Click here to learn more about the free mediation service for commercial tenancy disputes. 

Click here to see the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) (Commercial Leases and Licences) Regulations 2020.


FRIDAY 1 MAY 2020UDIA NATIONAL: FIRB APPROVALS FOR RESIDENTIAL LAND AND APARTMENT ACQUISITIONS


UDIA National has moved swiftly to develop a plan of action, advise government and industry and recommend interventions needed to sustain housing and construction activity during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. ‘Helping Australia Bounce Back’ – UDIA’s advocacy action plan, details six strategic steps governments can take to stimulate housing and construction during and after the pandemic.
 
Of critical importance is the need for governments, regulators, financial institutions and industry to sustain a continued flow of credit to homebuyers and investors, and to support property transactions and settlements.
 
These issues have been prioritised by UDIA National, alongside the extensive proposals and policy gains being advanced by our state divisions to reduce taxes, cut red tape and fast track development approvals.

Click here to learn more about the UDIA National ‘Helping Australia Bounce Back’ advocacy document.


WEDNESDAY 29 APRIL 2020VBA HOTLINE FOR CONSTRUCTION SITES 


The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) has established a dedicated call centre to assist with queries related to coronovirus and construction management.
To speak to a specialist VBA team, call the DHHS Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398 and select Option 5.


TUESDAY 28 APRIL 2020CALLING FOR A MORATORIUM ON DEVELOPMENT LEVIES & POLICY CHANGE 

Recognising current circumstances, UDIA Victoria has asked the Planning Minister to urgently impose a moratorium on proposed new or amended fees, levies and taxes, or planning scheme amendments that will increase the cost of residential development.

We have asked the moratorium be in place until 30 June 2021.

At a Local Government level, the moratorium should include proposals for:

  • – increasing public open space levies;
  • – social and affordable housing; and
  • – new design standards and requirements.

At a State Government level, the moratorium should include proposals for:

  • – a social and affordable housing levy;
  • – a new infrastructure contribution for strategic redevelopment areas;
  • – annual indexation and increase of the Growth Areas Infrastructure Contribution;
  • – adjustment and Indexation of the Melbourne Strategic Environmental Mitigation Levy; and
  • – Better Apartment Design Guideline amendments.

We have welcomed the Victorian Government’s decision to delay implementation of the Environmental Protection Authority Regulations 2020 until 1 July 2021.

Click here to read our letter to the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne.


TUESDAY 28 APRIL 2020ADVOCACY WIN: PLANNING & ENVIRONMENT LIST ISSUES TO MOVE THROUGH VCAT 

The Victorian Government has listened to our calls to keep planning and development applications moving through the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), today announcing $5.2 million funding for VCAT upgrades.

The upgrades will be rolled out over the next 12 weeks and will enable important planning matters to be heard remotely, ensuring billions of dollars’ worth of projects can progress.

Only injunctions and other urgent matters have been scheduled since late March because of the coronavirus. This has meant that current and pending matters, especially Planning and Environment List issues were on hold.

With these matters able to proceed, businesses and individuals will have greater certainty on their planning and development matters.

Click here to read the Victorian Government media release. 


MONDAY 27 APRIL 2020ADVOCATING TO KEEP $3.5 BILLION PROJECT VALUE MOVING THROUGH VCAT
We have today written to the Minister of Planning seeking his urgent assistance to keep planning and development applications moving through the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). 


Building, construction and development activity is classified as ‘essential’ and it is imperative that all components of the planning and development approval system continue to operate, so the industry can continue to operate.

Despite this, VCAT has halted hearings, affecting a pipeline of between $3 and $3.5 billion in project value in Victoria.

VCAT has advised that until at least 15 May 2020, is has effectively closed its doors and is not hearing any matters. 

Click here to read our letter. 


FRIDAY 24 APRIL 2020

COUNCILS CALLED ON TO EXTEND WORKSITE HOURS ACROSS VICTORIA

The Victorian Government has called on all local councils to follow the example set by the City of Melbourne and extend worksite hours for construction and development sites during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This direction comes following sustained advocacy by UDIA Victoria in partnership with Master Builders Victoria to see worksite hours extended. Our advocacy has focussed on finding ways that industry can best manage and implement social distancing measures whilst not negatively impacting productivity, avoid project delays and sustain current levels of employment.

Click here for a copy of the Victorian Government’s Local Government Bulletin.

Click here for a copy of the UDIA Victoria and Master Builders Victoria letter to the Municipal Association of Victoria.


FRIDAY 24 APRIL 2020

DEDICATED GOVERNMENT TASKFORCE TO SAFEGUARD INDUSTRY; UDIA VICTORIA APPOINTED TO THE STEERING COMMITTEE

The Victorian Government has set up a nation-leading Building Victoria’s Recovery Taskforce to keep our industry running through the coronavirus crisis.

The Taskforce is focused on boosting industry activity over the short, medium and long term. The Taskforce reports to the Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas and Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne. of members and our important first home buyers.

See our media release for more information.

See the Victorian Government media release.

See UDIA Victoria’s comments in today’s Australian Financial Review.

Click the below video to see what we had to say on Channel 7 News.



Click the below video to see what we had to say on Channel 9 News.


THURSDAY 23 APRIL 2020

ADVOCACY WIN FOR REGIONAL FIRST HOME BUYERS

The Victorian Government is extending the $20,000 First Home Owner Grant for people buying or building a new home in regional Victoria for an extra 12 months. 

We commend UDIA Victoria’s regional chapter teams in Geelong and Bendigo for making this case on behalf of members and our important first home buyers.

Click here for more information. 


THURSDAY 24 APRIL 2020

COVID-19 OMNIBUS BILL PASSES PARLIAMENT: CHANGES TO PLANNING ACT

The COVID-19 Omnibus Bill has passed Parliament. The Bill includes temporary commercial and residenital tenancy changes and amendments to enable the online facilitation of planning.

Click here to learn about how the Bill impacts the Planning and Environment Act 1987.  


WEDNESDAY 22 APRIL 2020

NEW MODELLING CONFIRMS ECONOMIC HIT

New modelling released by the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) shows the potential impact that COVID-19 may have on the state’s economy. Under the modelling, the economy is anticipated to contract in the June quarter of 2020, with real GSP estimated to be about 14 per cent lower in both the June and September quarters than forecast in the 2019-20 Budget Update.
 
Under this scenario, Victoria’s unemployment rate could rise to 11 per cent, and job losses could peak at around 270,000 in the September quarter.
 
These estimates include the mitigating impacts of Victorian and Commonwealth Government support packages.
 
Property prices could decline by up to 9 per cent from March to December 2020. The road to recovery will be longer than first expected, with the magnitude of the downturn meaning that Victoria would likely record negative economic growth in both 2019-20 and 2020-21.
 
Click here to see the DTF Coronavirus Economic Outlook Fact Sheet.
 
Click here to read the Government’s media release.


TUESDAY 21 APRIL 2020

UPDATED GUIDELINES FOR VICTORIA’S BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY 

Guidelines for Victoria’s building and construction industry are being regularly updated to reflect changes resulting from Government announcements, directions of the Victorian Chief Health Officer and best practices.
 
The purpose of these Guidelines is to:
– Provide direction to industry employers and workers;
– Outline the steps to be taken to best provide a safe and healthy environment; and
– Identify the action available in the event of interruption to building and construction work, as a result of COVID-19.

For our industry to stay safe and open, UDIA Victoria members must observe these Guidelines. Click here to access and download your copy. 


TUESDAY 21 APRIL 2020

COVID-19 OMNIBUS (EMERGENCY MEASURES) BILL

The COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020 will be introduced to Parliament Thursday, setting out a range of temporary changes to protect tenants and injured workers and allow vital government functions to continue operating in line with social distancing and other requirements.

Key points for industry:
– The Bill implements the National Cabinet tenancy reforms announced last week – enshrining the temporary ban on rental evictions and rent increases in law, and boosting mediation support to help landlords and tenants negotiate new, fair rental agreements. The related land tax relief for landlords will be implemented through a separate Appropriation Bill.
 
– The Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 will now be pushed back to commence on 1 July 2021 – or earlier by proclamation – to allow business and industry to focus on the immediate impacts of coronavirus.
 
– The Bill amends the Local Government Act 2020 to allow virtual meetings for local councils, allow planning permits to be displayed and sent electronically, and enable planning panels to conduct hearings by video-conference or in other remote ways.
 
– Some of the Government’s earlier rental reforms will also be delayed until 1 January 2021 to accommodate disruptions due to the pandemic.
 
More information here.


MONDAY 20 APRIL 2020 

NATIONAL AGREEMENT TO MAINTAIN PLANNING APPROVALS

Federal and state governments have announced a new national agreement designed to maintain planning approvals, and enable other planning regulation amendments, during the pandemic.

Victorian Minister for Planning Richard Wynne has agreed with the Australian Government Minister for Cities, other State and Territory Planning Ministers, and President of the Australia Local Government Association, that planning systems and the development approvals pipeline in Victoria must continue to function during the COVID-19 crisis so that jobs and businesses can be maintained.

Minister Wynne has entered a National Agreement specifying that adjustments to jurisdictional planning systems will be required, in accordance with a set of principles on how our planning systems should operate during this time.

Click here to see a set of principles intended to guide incoming changes to planning regimes.

Changes will be made to ensure development, building and construction activity can continue to operate at as close to normal levels as possible, while meeting public and workplace health and safety requirements.

UDIA Victoria is using member feedback to push forward the reforms that will best protect the industry’s jobs and businesses during this critical time. See what we’re advocating for in our COVID-19 Action Plan. 


THURSDAY 16 APRIL 2020 

VIC FUNDING TO SUPPORT JOBS & RECOVERYThe Victorian Treasurer today announced $24.5 billion in emergency funding to fight coronavirus, support jobs, and set Victoria up to recover from the pandemic over the next two years. 

Click here to read Government media release.


WEDNESDAY 15 APRIL 2020

SUPPORTING TENANTS AND LANDLORDS The Victorian Parliament will meet for an emergency sitting next Thursday. Legislation put into Parliament will include a $500 million package to help residential and commercial tenants and landlords through the pandemic.

The package includes 25% land tax discount for landlords providing tenants with rent relief, while any remaining land tax can be deferred until March 2021.

Click here to read the Government media release.


WEDNESDAY 15 APRIL 2020

INDUSTRY’S PUBLICLY CALLS FOR FAST TRACK OUT OF CRISISThe UDIA Victoria Action Plan for Government and Industry is getting good traction in both public and private domains.
The Age has written up our key recommendations for government, including the need to:
– speed up local and state planning decisions;
– appoint a committee to streamline approvals;
– increase planning resources to help unclog the state appeals tribunal;
– cut development fees and levies; and
– increase the first-home owner grant.

Click here to read the article published in The Age.

Click here to read the UDIA Victoria COVID-19 Action Plan.


MONDAY 13 APRIL 2020

VPA UPDATE

The Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) has advised that in coming months, VPA’s focus will be on accelerating and prioritising delivery of plans for designated growth areas wherever possible.

They’re working to meet existing deadlines and endeavour to reach out to their project stakeholders directly with an update. However, if you are still looking for more information about how they are managing shared projects, you can get in touch with either your contact or via the general VPA email at info@vpa.vic.gov.au.


THURSDAY 9 APRIL 2020

UDIA PROPOSES DEVELOPMENT FACILITATION PATHWAY FOR SHOVEL-READY PROJECTS

UDIA Victoria has written to the Minister for Planning and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, proposing a Development Facilitation Pathway within DELWP, for ‘shovel-ready projects’ to be triaged and fast tracked for assessment and approval.

We proposed a set of criteria that Government could use to assess projects for fast tracked approval by government authorities.

Our industry call-out for shovel-ready projects last week, resulted in close to 200 submissions in just 48 hours. This information was put to Government, demonstrating the huge pipeline of projects that can be activated to support our sector and the Victorian economy during this time.

Government’s early response to our Development Facilitation Pathway proposal has been positive.

See our letter to the Minister for Planning here.

See our Proposed Criteria for Assessment of Shovel-Ready Projects here.


TUESDAY 7 APRIL 2020

NATIONAL CABINET MANDATORY CODE OF CONDUCT AND SME COMMERCIAL LEASING PRINCIPLESAustralia’s National Cabinet today decided its Mandatory Code of Conduct and SME Commercial Leasing Principles for the COVID-19 pandemic period. Information can be found on the PM’s website here: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/update-coronavirus-measures-070420


TUESDAY 7 APRIL 2020

ADVOCACY WIN: ADVISORY NOTE FOR RAP FIELDWORK AND ENGAGEMENT DURING COVID-19 STAGE 3 RESTRICTIONSWe have worked with Aboriginal Affairs Victoria to develop an Advisory Note for Registered Aboriginal Parties to continue to undertake fieldwork within COVID-19 restrictions, and to keep work progressing without fieldwork if necessary.

This is critically important for keeping development and construction sites operating, and is a positive advocacy outcome for greenfield developers in particular. 

The Advisory Note says that fieldwork can continue within COVID-19 restrictions, but if RAPs do decide to suspend worksite visits, assessments of Cultural Heritage Management Plans and permit conditions, can and should continue with full and proper consultation.

This Advisory Note from Aboriginal Affairs Victoria will help our industry and RAPs to navigate through the urban development process within the COVID-19 restrictions as appropriate. 

Click here to read the advisory note. 


MONDAY 6 APRIL 2020

TREASURER’S MESSAGE TO INDUSTRY The Treasurer of Victoria has released a meaningful commitment for our industry and an important message for all those working on-site to continue implementing safe work practices.

Make sure your organisation, your team and your worksites are implementing all the guidelines and social distancing measures to keep people in the industry safe and healthy. 

DHHS guidance note can be accessed here.

Further guidance developed by UDIA Victoria and other industry associations and unions, with input from WorkSafe and DHHS, available here.

Click here to read the letter from the Treasurer. 


MONDAY 6 APRIL 2020

ADVOCACY WIN: COUNCILS DIRECTED TO KEEP WHEELS TURNINGState Government has officially advised local councils that they must not dismiss or stand down staff, ensuring they remain open, productive and responsive to essential service industries like ours.

This is good news for our sector amid concern that councils would fall behind and further delay development activity during the COVID-19 crisis.

We commend Government on their positive reception to our COVID-19 Action Plan, which calls for a move like this. We advised the Government to keep councils open and productive, providing confidence to industry and a future pipeline of work. They listened.

FRIDAY 3 APRIL 2020ADVOCACY IN ACTION, WEEKLY WRAP

UDIA Victoria have worked diligently this week to put forward our industry’s solutions to Government for keeping the Victorian economy going through the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a wrap from this week’s advocacy activities.


THURSDAY 2 APRIL 2020UDIA & MAV ADVOCATING FOR COUNCILS TO EXTEND WORKSITE HOURS

UDIA has today joined forces with Master Builders Victoria in a written letter to the Municipal Association of Victoria, urging local councils to extend worksite hours.
Click here for the letter.


TUESDAY 31 MARCH 2020UPDATED GUIDELINES FOR THE BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

Today an updated set of guidelines for employers and workers was released. This is to assist workplaces to manage any potential threat of COVID-19. For our industry to stay safe and open, everyone most observe these guidelines. Click above for further information.


COVID-19 JOBKEEPER PAYMENT TUESDAY 31 MARCH 2020

Last night the Australian Federal Government has delivered a historic wage subsidy to the value of $130 billion, impacting around 6 million workers. The payment will ensure eligible employers (including not-for-profits) and employees stay connected while some businesses move into hibernation.Click above for further information.

To register your interest visit the ATO website here: https://www.ato.gov.au/general/gen/JobKeeper-payment/

To read more about yesterday’s announcement please click here: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/130-billion-jobkeeper-payment-keep-australians-job

Comprehensive fact sheets from Treasury can be found here: https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/jobkeeper

Last night the Australian Federal Government has delivered a historic wage subsidy to the value of $130 billion, impacting around 6 million workers. The payment will ensure eligible employers (including not-for-profits) and employees stay connected while some businesses move into hibernation.Click above for further information.

To register your interest visit the ATO website here: https://www.ato.gov.au/general/gen/JobKeeper-payment/

To read more about yesterday’s announcement please click here: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/130-billion-jobkeeper-payment-keep-australians-job

Comprehensive fact sheets from Treasury can be found here: https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/jobkeeper


BEST PRACTICE FOR MANAGING CONSTRUCTION SITES IN THE CORONAVIRUS ENVIRONMENT – MONDAY 30 MARCH 2020

This note provides guidance on best practice for reducing the spread of coronavirus within the construction industry. The construction industry is encouraged to review this guidance and implement appropriate measures on their construction sites.
This guidance is correct at the time of publication and its application may be impacted upon by future announcements relating to the operation of the construction sector. Click above for further information.


​BUILDING, CONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT INDUSTRY LIVES TO WORK ANOTHER DAY – FRIDAY 27 MARCH 2020

Premier Daniel Andrews has this afternoon announced that Victoria is not yet progressing to Stage 3 restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. UDIA Victoria has been working night and day to present a case to government that the building, construction and development industry is implementing and managing social distancing measures and health practises to keep worksites safe, healthy and compliant with all government requirements. Click above for further information.


BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY EMPLOYEES AND UNIONS UNITE ON COVID-19 SAFETY MESSAGE – WEDNESDAY 25 MARCH 2020

United group stress the need to follow appropriate measures and guidelines which stipulate strict hygiene practices, social distancing and separation of workers on meal breaks, in addition to other measures, to ensure sites can be kept safe and stay open. Employer groups and unions have worked together to develop guidelines in line with government recommendations and they should be adhered to immediately and followed dutifully by all employers and employees. Click above for further information.


UDIA VICTORIA COVID-19 ACTION PLAN FOR GOVERNMENT AND OUR INDUSTRY – TUESDAY 24 MARCH 2020

We are pleased to share our COVID-19 Action Plan with you as well as an open letter to all local councils, state government agencies, members of parliament and other stakeholders which we sent yesterday. On behalf of our critically important industry, we are calling on Government to remain open for business and remain engaged with our industry. Click above for further information.


BUILDING, CONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT SITES TO REMAIN OPEN – MONDAY 23 MARCH 2020

Premier Dan Andrews has this morning confirmed that Victoria is implementing a shutdown of all non-essential activity at 12pm today to contain the COVID-19 coronavirus. At this stage, the shutdown does not include building, construction and development sites as they remain an essential service for the time being. Click above for further information.https://youtube.com/watch?v=9_ri66mHXaA%2520frameborder%3D0%2520allow%3Daccelerometer%3B%2520autoplay%3B%2520encrypted-media%3B%2520gyroscope%3B%2520picture-in-picture%2520allowfullscreen


ECONOMIC SURVIVAL PACKAGE TO SUPPORT VICTORIAN BUSINESSES AND JOBS – SATURDAY 21 MARCH 2020

The Victorian Government has today announced the biggest business relief package in the nation. The package is for small and medium sized Victorian businesses and employees dealing with immediate and anticipated flow-on effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Click above for further information.


COVID-19 AND UDIA EVOLVING MEMBER SERVICES – TUESDAY 17 MARCH 2020

Like you, we have spent recent days working through the implications for UDIA Victoria’s team and how we best continue to deliver member services.  UDIA Victoria’s Board of Directors met last night and the Executive Committee will continue to meet weekly, enabling our organisation to make agile decisions that are in the best interests of UDIA Victoria’s members, our business and our team. Click above for further information.


Please find below a collection of resources for your organisation and your team to remain up-to-date with the latest COVID-19 advice.