As we arrive at the Christmas / New Year season of yet another unusual year of upheaval and change, we usually start lamenting about “where has the year gone” and it seems like only yesterday that it was Easter. BUT NOT THIS YEAR. It actually feels like it’s been 10 years since June when the world went mad with the onset of the Delta variant of COVID-19.
Just like last year, the first couple of months of this year for the property industry in NSW meant a mad scramble to the line of 23rd March and agents attempting to get their new CPD requirements completed and Assistant Agents working towards completing their modules for their licensing needs. For us here at ACOP this meant supporting many, many students through the training and assessment pathways to achieve their goals in real estate, stock & station and strata management. And then a little breather until April, and our wonderful students started with their CPD and licensing training for the new year again. And do you remember what happened in June? Oh no……not again. So off everyone went to work remotely from home – easier logistically this time around, but harder on the work relationships and customer service connections.
ACOP have focused a lot during lockdown on preparing proforma documents to support agents with their compliance in terms of Supervision Guidelines and Policies and Procedures. We have investigated the best options for inclusion of the new legislation into daily agency practices in the NSW property industry. These amendments, combined with the amendments relating to COVID-19 requirements in both residential and commercial property management and the changed practices of conducting individual inspections instead of open homes and auctions via zoom and other online platforms, has meant that we have all learnt a stack of new skills.
The changes for CPD are now in their second year, and unfortunately is still causing confusion for many agents. Simply – if you’re a Class 2 licensed agent, then it’s 6 hours of CPD this year (3 hours of Compulsory topics set by Fair Trading plus 3 hours of an elective unit). Then, if you’re a Class 1 licensed agent, then it’s 9 hours of CPD every year (3 hours of Compulsory topics, plus 3 hours of an elective unit, plus an additional 3 hours relating to business skills. If you’re not licensed and hold a Certificate of Registration, you need to complete 3 Units of Competency towards your licence qualification. Just call us and we’ll put on the right pathway. So in late June, our primary CPD face-to-face classes morphed into many, many interactive webinar CPD sessions. Whilst we’ve always conducted webinars at ACOP, it again become a huge part of doing business in 2021, that they are a daily occurrence, not only for training but for meetings. I think the saying of 2021 is definitely “you’re on mute”. And who doesn’t love a good background. Following the lockdowns, the hotspot LGAs and the constant talk of jabs in the arm, finally freedom day came in late October. From November onwards, our trainers have hit the classrooms, both at our Sydney CBD training rooms and also in outer metropolitan and regional areas – there really is nothing like being in front of a class of people who want to talk about property.
Upon review of the year, I feel that we have been told what to do on a daily basis (for so long at 11am every morning from Gladys), that many people are now finding it difficult to actually make decisions for themselves. This is causing problems for all industries, as we have all become reliant on being told what to do and are not taking responsibility for our actions and our decisions. This is the task for every workplace – not just in the property industry – that we need to reconnect with our colleagues, listen and contribute to our workplaces. If we are to work towards good mental health, then let’s take it on an industry, in terms of supporting all those around us to connect with all aspects of our industry. This is more easily said than done, and it’s going to take time, energy, conscious effort and reliance upon each other – to return to working successful with our team mates.
ACOP turned 18 on 30th November 2021 and as we have done in previous years, we had a month of celebrations in November where our students received the gifts, with over $5,000 in Visa Gift Cards, refunds of enrolment fees and a smart watch being awarded to students participating in our November training activities.
ACOP also saw the birth of three beautiful bouncing baby boys in 2021. We certainly did our bit for expanding the population during Covid. It started on 3 March with the birth of Tava’e to Elise and her partner Sone; then Taj arrived on 3 August to Rachelle and her finance Chris and finally we saw our third baby boy Reuben born on 27 August to Megan and her husband Matt. Whilst we have the girls all on maternity leave, we have clearly started a breeding program for future ACOP staff members.
And it’s a wrap for 2021. It’s our last fortnightly College Chronicle for the year so I thought a summary of the major topics that we have covered this year would be a great idea – just to show how much ground we have crossed. Remember that all past editions of the Chronicle are available on our website. In 2021, our topics have included:
We have focused heavily this year in training on compliance requirements and how to best cope in a changing environment. We truly believe that if agents implement the ethos of these legislatively required rules, that our industry will be a better and way more professional playing field. This is certainly the underpinning philosophy for why we do what we do here at ACOP.
As with previous years (in fact this is our thirteenth year), ACOP was one of the few Registered Training Organisations that were granted the ability to offer government funding in the property, finance and management sectors – meaning that we continue to be closely monitored by Training Services NSW to ensure that our high standards of training are continuously met. With funding available for fee-free traineeships for those students who sign-up with approved providers such as ACOP, subsidised training for experienced workers, and half fees to people aged between 45 and 70 – it is an exciting time to be operating in the training arena – so bring on 2021 is all we can say.
Most importantly for ACOP, during the depths of Covid lockdown, we received the news that ACOP has been recognised by the NSW Department of Education as a “high performing provider”, which is a testament to the quality of training and service provision that we offer. It also means that ACOP has access to increased levels of funding and to specialised government subsidised products and training programs.
There have been comings and going at ACOP this year. We said sad farewells to and Elise and Rachelle from our Admin team and Megan from the management team. Megan is still working part-time from home with her new bubba and Rachelle is coming back to join us in February. We also have quite a few new team members is the expanding student support team – we now have Jonno, Priscilla, Monique, Abi and Dream – who has slotted into the ACOP culture as if they’ve been here forever.
At this time of the year, many of us are focusing on the good times ahead with our family and loved ones – at last being able to plan gatherings and copious amounts of food that we will consume. This year’s ACOP Christmas celebrations with current and past team members, was held at our home (Rosy and John), and even with social distancing requirements, we had a fantastic night with fabulous drinks, amazing food, some questionable dancing and plenty of laughs. As you plan your work and family celebration, remember to be mindful and ensure the safety of yourself and your friends as they travel to and from the celebrations, particularly if they are enjoying a few drinks at the parties.
We have had many celebrations this year at the College, with baby showers and engagements to celebrate – not to mention the birth of our three newest ACOP babies. Through the good and bad of people’s personal lives, the team supports each other which makes me a very proud business owner.
It is now December and this means that it is time to reflect on the year that has been. Every day we hear the news, read the papers, and on the internet – the bad things that are happening in our world. We have seen negative changes to people’s behaviour, negative effects on people’s mental health, and negative effects on how people communicate with others. When talking to other businesses in all industries, there seems to have been an increase in people’s stress….and why wouldn’t there have been, with what we have all been confronted with this past year. So now it’s Christmas and time when we should be reflecting on what has happened in our lives during the year, and plan to make our lives, and the lives of those we can influence, a better place. We need to be grateful for the good in our lives, be that small or large. So please be kind to yourself and to others. We all need it so much this year more than ever.
As I always state in my final newsletter of the year, this is a time for reflection – both from a business and a personal perspective. We need to remember those in our community who need a little extra support at this time of the year. ACOP continues to actively support the Northern Beaches Women’s Shelter (through my position as Board Chair) and have now commenced supporting the Camden Women’s Shelter, as our team member Kristine has been elected to the Board for the planning and impending opening of this new Shelter in Sydney’s south-west. ACOP also strongly supports the Cambodian Children’s Fund and the team enjoy their participation in the planning for major fundraising events and assisting in the work that is done through these organisations. Sadly these fundraisers have all been put on hold this year, and other activities have taken over in order to raise much needed funds for these charities. Closer to home, we have the people who have lost their livelihoods through retrenchments and downsizing of businesses due to COVID and the rollercoaster of our economy this past year. Let’s spare them thoughts, and support (financial, physical and emotional) wherever and whenever we can – it will make everyone’s Christmas so much better.
ACOP will close its doors and telephone lines at 3.00pm on Friday 17th December and reopen on Tuesday 4th January at 8.30am. Naturally, you will still be able to login online and enrol and complete CPD training if required. Any of your questions will be addressed as soon as we are back at our desks on the 4th.
On behalf of John and myself and all of the magnificent ACOP team, we send our warm festive regards and wish you a truly happy Christmas and a safe, healthy and prosperous 2022 – which hopefully will be a year with less social distancing requirements and the world becoming more able to cope with this pandemic. This new era of “online everything” gives us the opportunity to take time to be grateful for all that is good and plan to make a fresh start with fabulous new ideas for the start of the brave new world of 2022.
Don’t forget to leave out the beer and cookies for Santa and a carrot or two for the reindeer (and perhaps raise a glass of your preferred beverage – be it champagne or Coke No Sugar – to those you love and hold close to your hearts and to those who are no longer with us). Stay safe and happy. We are looking forward to seeing you all in the new year.