7 September 2023
September 2023 – Strata Regulatory Watch
In this edition we cover: NSW: Final version of the Fire Safety Schedule NSW : Update on strata management legislation Press release : Welcome to Gerard Doyle, our new NSW…
Our partner Jason Browne addresses this tricky yet important question.
There is nothing in either the NSW or QLD strata and/or community titles legislation which provides any specific guidance to answer this question.
Further, given the rapidly evolving government responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, the legal framework relating to an individual’s obligations to co-operate with federal and state government authorities so as to minimise transmission of Covid-19 is updating at both a Federal and State level on a frequent basis.
The strict interpretation of the question asks whether an owner or resident living in a strata and/or community title scheme has “… any obligations to advise the committee” which is interpreted as a general legal obligation to advise the committee.
As at the time of writing, the simple answer to that question is no.
Briefly put, a person’s medical information is private and protected under Federal and State privacy laws. Similar to other private medical information (for example, a person’s HIV status), there are very limited and complex circumstances under which disclosure may be required without the consent of the individual, the detail for which is beyond the scope of the answer to this question.
Of course, an owner or resident can personally decide to disclose their Covid-19 status to the committee should they wish to do so.
As is being seen in the media, a very small number of persons like actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson, Richard Wilkins, Peter Dutton MP and Senator Susan McDonald have each personally decided to publicly disclose their positive diagnosis for Covid-19.
However, the vast majority of reported cases of Covid-19 are being anonymously referred to with a typical reported example being something like “A 53 year old doctor from Sydney’s Ryde Hospital is one of the first person to person transmissions of coronavirus we’ve seen in Australia.”
Whilst there is no general legal compulsion for a person to disclose their positive diagnosis for Covid-19, numerous pieces of legislation at a Federal and State level create a legal framework designed to:
This framework is designed around and mindful of a person’s right to privacy of their personal medical information but does legally require a person who has contracted Covid-19 to practice social distance by self-quarantine and other measures designed to minimise the risk of spread of this declared pandemic virus within the community.
As at the time of writing, the following key pieces of legislation provide the foundations for the framework to combat Covid-19:
Two key elements to the whole of government response to the Covid-19 pandemic are “contact tracing” and self-quarantine. Both of these processes are respectful of a person’s right to privacy of their personal medical information, including their Covid-19 status.
Let’s apply the above to a hypothetical example of a male owner in a QLD strata scheme called ABC Strata Apartments in Smith Street Blackacre QLD who contracts Covid-19. This person:
Representatives of QLD Health will interview this man to see whether he can identify certain persons he knows the identity of who he came in “close contact” with whilst using the gym facilities and:
A similar process will take place in NSW.
The second element is self-quarantine. As reported in the media, Federal and State Laws provide that during a declared pandemic like Covid-19, a person with symptoms may be asked to self-isolate by staying at home, in their hotel, or in hospital.
The preferred process is to rely upon voluntary compliance with self-quarantine which requires a person with Covid-19 to stay at home, in their hotel room or provided accommodation and not leave for the period they are required to quarantine (usually 14 days). Only people who usually live in the household should be in the home and visitors should not be allowed to visit the infected person.
Of course there will be people who refuse or fail to comply with self-quarantine requirements in which case:
As can be seen from the above, there is no general legal obligation for a person to disclose their positive diagnosis for Covid-19. I’ll leave it to others to answer the question of whether there is a “moral” obligation to do so.
Jason Browne is a partner in our Brisbane office. He can be contacted on 07 3905 9268 or via email at email@example.com