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Ordinary Committee Member: How to become extraordinary

Ordinary Committee Member: How to become extraordinary

About this series

BCsystems as your body corporate manager works very closely with the chairperson, secretary, treasurer and each committee member. Our goal is to support all committee members with the shared goal of maximising the effectiveness of the role and reduce the time and effort involved.

In this series of articles, we will be looking in detail at each role, with the aim of supporting our committees and helping each member understand the roles on the committee.

Final round – Committee member

The committee members are the bread and butter of the committee. The legislation refers to non-executive committee members as ‘ordinary committee members’ – but at BCsystems we don’t think you are ordinary.

Whilst the chairperson, secretary and treasurer have special roles in the committee, other committee members are equally important to the operation of a committee.

It is a volunteer position that can be very rewarding but also can take an investment of time and effort from the member.

Owners who become elected to the committee generally have an interest in contributing to the success of the scheme as a whole, and an interest in decision-making.

Working with our strata management team at BCsystems means you will have an experienced and friendly person at the end of the phone or email who can provide you with as much guidance and support as you need.

Whether you’re an experienced hand or a beginner, this article is aimed to improve your experience and get the best outcomes for your entire body corporate.

What does the role involve?

Committee members vote – that’s the short answer.

All committee decisions are made by a simple majority vote out of the committee members, so it is important for the functioning of a committee that each member gives a vote. The most common complaint from our clients is that the committee process is slow and difficult due to a general lack of interest by the owners. Luckily, this is an easy problem to solve.

1. Participate

It might seem obvious, but this is the single most important obligation for committee members.

If the committee has a committee meeting – attend the meeting!

If the committee arranges a voting paper to make a decision outside a meeting – vote!

BCsystems facilitates electronic attendance for committee meetings (e.g. via Zoom or teleconference), and all voting can be done electronically.

Voting dynamics can mean it is very difficult for committees to make decisions without 100% voting.

For example: if the committee has 6 members, at least 4 of them must approve any motion outside of a committee meeting. If there is a difference of opinion, and if two members just don’t participate, it is impossible to make decisions.

The legislation relies on every committee member participating in every vote. Our BCsystems strata managers try to make this as easy as possible by proposing motion as a YES or NO answer.

2. Take on a project

If you are a committee member with a passion for interior design or renovation – you’re your hand up to take the lead on that project that the committee is considering. Whilst some projects might be delegated to the caretaker or building manager, often each project needs some input or guidance by a committee member and owner in the building.

Whilst the decision will still be made by the committee, you can do the research on paint colours, lobby furniture, and light fittings and then present your recommendation to the full committee.

There can often be too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to projects undertaken by a body corporate. It can be very helpful to assign each task to a committee member (working in conjunction with the caretaker or strata manager) so that by the time a decision needs to be made, one person is the expert on that topic and can guide the rest of the committee members.

At committee meetings, you will see your strata manager increasingly asking which committee member would like to take the lead on each project. This approach will cut down on the emails back and forth and leads to good outcomes.

3. Consider sub-committees

Following on from the point above – for larger projects consider a sub-committee. Whilst this is not a formal part of the body corporate law, it is a useful and practical way to keep things moving.

Many committees have experience with owners who have a particular interest in a topic (e.g. paint colours) but don’t want to join the committee.

Sub-committees are unofficial and are a great way of involving owners who want to be involved. Each sub-committee might be run by a committee member, who in turn reports back to the committee.

We have seen these sub-committees work well in the following examples:

  • Selecting paint colours
  • Preparing landscaping planting and design plans
  • Investigating major upgrades such as intercom, CCTV
  • Gym equipment upgrades (get your gym users to join the sub-committee)
  • Monitoring parking
  • Christmas decorations
  • Researching blanket approvals (e.g. blinds, solar panels etc)

A sub-committee cannot make formal decisions, but they can put in the work and research and make really detailed proposals to the committee to consider. This demonstrates to the committee that there is support for the project among the owners.

4. Bring perspective

Each committee member brings their own unique perspective to the table. Good committees reflect the diversity of the community in general, with a mix of owner occupiers, investors, people of different ages and backgrounds, professional and cultural backgrounds and different opinions.

It is important to always remain respectful with your fellow volunteer committee members, and also your advisors.

You never know when your own personal background or experience may come in handy and you can make an invaluable contribution to the committee.

 

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