Emergency services vehicle access


By Paul Smyth (Tenants’ Union of NSW), and Trevor Sullivan (Port Stephens & Affiliates Park Residents Association)

This article highlights the importance of operator compliance with all requirements under the Residential Land Lease Communities Act 2013 (RLLC Act).

the entrance to sweetwater grove
The entrance to Sweetwater Grove. No community map is visibly displayed that would identify the location of residential sites. However, there is a large sign advertising homes for sale! (Photos sourced from Google Street View, dated May 2021.)

Operators are required under the RLLC Act to ensure that there is 24 hour unimpeded emergency vehicle access to the community. An operator is required to consult with residents and all relevant emergency and home care services regarding access arrangements in the community. If there are any changes to these arrangements all parties must be informed. 

All roads and sites within the community must be clearly signposted, or an accurate, easy to follow map be placed at each entrance to the community. These measures are in place to enable emergency and home care personnel to locate the home they are seeking in the community.

When these measures are not followed it can have dire consequences for the residents. This was the case in Sweetwater Grove earlier this year. Sweetwater Grove is part of the Aspen Group and a new land lease community at Tomago NSW and is advertised as “a relaxed over 50s lifestyle community located in Tomago, a stone’s throw from Port Stephens and Newcastle.” It was previously the Tomago Village Van Park and was renamed and expanded with 26 new homes brought in over the past 18 months.

The death of a resident of this community occurred during April 2022 in circumstances where the ambulance service responding to a 000 call could not locate the patient’s residential site or get to the person in time.

We understand the key issue for the ambulance service when they attended at the community was the absence of any community map at the front entrance; also the residential site numbers were not clearly marked. The streets in the community are very higgledy-piggledy and streets go in many directions. This makes it very difficult to navigate and find homes in the community.

The operator was advised of the problems encountered by the ambulance service and on three occasions have promised to install a community map at the entrance. A temporary A4 sized map in a plastic sleeve has been taped at the entrance and the community is still waiting for a permanent community map to be installed. 

If your community is missing a community map at the front entrance then we strongly encourage you to make a request to the operator to comply with their requirements. There are penalty units attached to not complying with this important section of the RLLC Act and we encourage residents to bring non compliance issues like this one to the attention of NSW Fair Trading as the Regulator and Registrar of residential land lease communities.


This article was published in Outasite magazine issue 8. Outasite is published annually. Outasite Lite email newsletter, is sent several times a year – subscribe here. All past issues are available in the archive.