REEF President gives 2017 annual report at AGM

At the recent AGM, REEF President Fred Andriessen presented his annual report and provided a snapshot of just some of the activities REEF has been involved in over the course of 2017.

It’s been another busy year for REEF, as we continued to focus on providing a range of meaningful, cost-effective and quality products and services to help real estate employers manage, support and grow their business.

Here’s a snapshot of just some of the activities we’ve been involved in over the course of 2017. While not exhaustive, it demonstrates the ‘hard yards’ REEF has put in – often behind the scenes – to secure a better workplace environment for the benefit of our members and subscribers, and the industry more generally.

To summarise our activities, I feel it’s appropriate to refer to a number of our stated key objectives as a means of measuring our performance.


  1. To provide industrial relations and human resource management assistance to real estate employers

At REEF, we’re committed to helping real estate employers protect their workplace interests. The workplace relations environment can be complex and confusing, and employers are constantly faced with changing laws. It can be a minefield and one of our primary objectives is to help you navigate that minefield.


There’s no doubt that the ‘bread and butter’ service we provide to our members and subscribers is the Helpline.

There’s a great sense of comfort in knowing that advice and assistance is only a phone call away, and REEF’s highly-skilled team of Workplace Relations Advisors is on hand to help you deal with employment problems and workplace issues quickly, effectively and cost efficiently.

Engaging a lawyer is expensive, but advice from REEF is complimentary when you join. For the cost of less than two hours of a lawyer’s time, when you join REEF you get an entire team working for you for a whole year.

Often the most valued thing our Workplace Relations Advisors do is simply listen. While this may sound somewhat trite, when you run a small business, there’s often no one to speak with about issues of concern. And our members and subscribers are definitely taking advantage of this service in droves. In 2017, we took more than 15,000 calls via the helpline!


In 2017, for the seventh consecutive year, we teamed up with the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales to travel the length and breadth of the state to bring real estate employers vital information.

Helping you to effectively manage your employees is a key motivation for our involvement in this annual Roadshow. The Roadshow is an opportunity for us to get out and directly engage with our members and subscribers, and has become a highlight of our calendar and, in 2017, we travelled to 19 locations across New South Wales. While I didn’t have the opportunity to attend all sessions, those I did were exceptionally well received. The feedback I received from attendees was very encouraging. Indeed, more than 700 principals representing 550 businesses attended at lease one of the Roadshow sessions.


Apart from the Roadshow, we presented a further 15 sessions to real estate employers in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and the ACT over the course of 2017. We’re looking forward to scheduling even more of these in the coming 12 months.

I congratulate both our Chief Executive Officer, Bryan Wilcox, and our Membership Services Director, Greg Paterson, for their efforts in producing an outstanding presentation program.

  1. To protect real estate employers against the introduction of unjust and inequitable employment conditions

This objective unquestionably came to fore during 2017.

Of primary importance to the vast majority of our members and subscribers over the last year was our battle to ensure a fair and just outcome in the four-year review of the Real Estate Industry Award.

The two unions with the right to represent real estate employees raised concerns about a number of issues. In their opinion, some existing conditions were unfair and in urgent need of change to ensure the Real Estate Industry Award provided a fair and relevant set of employment conditions.

Included in their list of demands was the introduction of penalty rates, significant wage increases for all employee classifications, the dismantling of debit-credit commission arrangements and the destruction of commission-only employment.

If the unions’ claims were accepted, the industry would have been set back decades in terms of the engagement and remuneration of employees.

With this in mind, REEF went into the review process with three main strategic objectives:

  1. We were determined to insulate our industry against the introduction of penalty rates for weekend work
  2. We considered it essential to protect the integrity of our debit-credit commission arrangements.
  3. We held a strong belief that real estate employers should continue to have the opportunity to employ high-performing salespeople on a commission-only basis. It shouldn’t be forgotten that employees, as well as employers, want this option.

The review was an extremely expensive, time consuming and frequently frustrating battle that REEF undertook almost single handedly on behalf of our members and subscribers, and the broader industry.

I’m relieved to report that in making their final decision, the Fair Work Commission recognised and accepted REEF’s submissions that the real estate industry is unique and that employment conditions should reflect this.

When considered as a whole, we’re pleased with the outcome as it could have been much worse. This is especially the case when viewed against the backdrop of the horrendous claims lodged by the unions at the beginning of the process.

REEF’s efforts succeeded in protecting the industry against the introduction of penalty rates, the proposed abolition of commission-only arrangements and the serious threat that the debit-credit commission system would be undermined.

  1. To ensure real estate employers have access to relevant employment information

As practising agents, we all understand the importance of communication to the success of our businesses – and, at REEF, we’re continually reviewing the best ways to provide you with rapid access to expert and concise information.


In today’s fast-paced business environment, we all expect the information we want and need to be at our fingertips.

REEF’s comprehensive website and our exclusive People Management System provides ready access to a broad range of information and employment material including employment agreements, commission structures, sample company policies, job descriptions and template HR letters.

It’s encouraging to see that in 2017, the REEF website received more than 20,000 visits to access vital information.


Our main member publication – the Employers’ Guide – continues to be an important resource. The Guide keeps you up to date about changes to employment laws and workplace regulation that are likely to affect your business.

Always a ‘must read’, the Guide underwent a facelift in 2017 to make it a more relevant and user-friendly publication. The Committee of Management is extremely pleased with the outcome and the positive feedback we’ve received.

I encourage you to take the time to read the Employer’s Guide as it provides valuable information and analysis on developments in employment law and government policy that can directly affect your business interests. It also contains a wealth of practical information on how to manage your workplace and keep up-to-date with changes in best practice.


Another important way we communicate with members and subscribers is through our email Workplace Alerts. These Alerts provide you with immediate advice on employment matters of urgent importance.


REEF’s suite of fact sheets provides essential information on a range of employment-related topics to help you better manage your staff and ensure compliance with your employment obligations under the award and the Fair Work Act. The topics covered include:

  • Termination of employment
  • Leave entitlements
  • Long service leave
  • Employee entitlements on transfer of business
  • Requests for flexible working arrangements
  • Record keeping and pay slips
  • Hiring new employees
  • Key superannuation rates and legislation

In 2017, the fact sheets were comprehensively revised and updated versions sent to all members and subscribers.

As we move into 2018, we’ll continue to explore at innovative and practical ways of improving the way we provide you with information and advice.

  1. To encourage real estate employers to join REEF by providing responsive, modern and cost-effective services

At REEF, we understand that we’re operating in a competitive environment and that there are a growing number of ‘for profit’ organisations offering workplace relations products and services to real estate employers. Unlike REEF, they are not industry specific service providers and they are happy to charge exorbitant fees. But they cannot offer the quality of service and advice that REEF can, nor can they provide it for the low cost that we do. As a not-for profit organisation, we’re here to help you and your joining fees go directly to providing a range of essential services to manage, support and grow your business.


In 2017, the Committee of Management decided to significantly expand REEF’s suite of marketing collateral to compliment our new branding and website.

Working closely with both a communications consultant and a graphic designer, we’ve now produced a range of brochures, flyers, advertisement and presentations that will assist in our further expansion across the Eastern seaboard.

We’ve worked hard to hone our message and identify our key points of difference, and armed with our new suite of marketing collateral we’re talking to as many real estate employers about the benefits of joining REEF.


Today, real estate employers need more focused services to help them deal with employment and workplace issues and problems. A system that’s easy to understand, simple to implement and within the financial reach of every real estate employer is a must.

It was with this in mind that, several years ago, we took steps to provide you with access to the People Management System at no extra cost when you join REEF.

I believe this product is an essential tool to help you run the employment side of your business. As part of our commitment to you, we’re continually modifying and updating the People Management System to ensure it remains relevant to your needs.


Of course, our advocacy service remains an integral part of REEF’s industrial armoury, providing you with experienced representation when you need it most. Regrettably, but not surprisingly, it’s not uncommon for real estate employers to join REEF because an employment-related claim has arisen.

In 2017, our team of Workplace Relations Advisors helped more than 150 members with various industrial claims ranging from unfair dismissal to discrimination to underpayment of wages. REEF was there to help so many members in so many ways.

You can never be sure if you’ll face a claim from a disgruntled employee, but it’s comforting to know that you can contact REEF to seek help.


To the Committee of Management,

REEF’s reputation as the leading provider of workplace relations services to the real estate industry is due in no small part to the determination, expertise and commitment of our Committee members.

They each give of their time on a voluntary basis and are instrumental in ensuring REEF maintains its position as the leading workplace relations voice for the real estate industry. Their industry experience is essential in developing ideas and strategies to protect your business interests and forge an even stronger industrial organisation.

We’re fortunate to be able to draw upon the vast experience of these practising agents from both metropolitan and regional areas of Australia.

I’d like to take the opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to my fellow Committee members –not only for the support they’ve given me over the past 12 months, but also for their drive and enthusiasm in advancing the industrial interests of agency practice.

  • Vice President: Christian Payne (Payne Pacific Real Estate, Cronulla)
  • Treasurer: Paul Byrne (LJ Hooker Commercial, Bankstown)
  • Committee members: Paul Deegan (LJ Hooker, Lismore), Sandra Higgins (MyPlace Estate Agents, Zetland), Neil Johnston (Rutherford Johnston Properties, Belconnen), Lisa Surian (Raine & Horne, Parramatta) and Jo Thorpe (Fisk & Nagle First Choice Real Estate, South Coast).

To the REEF team

REEF’s ongoing success is in large part due to the hard work, expertise and professionalism of the REEF team. They’re essential to providing first-class advice and service to real estate employers.

Our team is made up of highly-qualified individuals, who each have a wealth of knowledge and experience, and are ready, willing and able to provide information, advice and guidance as needed. They are always on-hand as an additional resource for our members and subscribers.

Our team answer more than 15,000 calls each year via the Helpline. These calls often require immediate attention and advice. The Helpline is perhaps the most ‘visible’ and practical avenue of assistance for real estate employers and it’s a service of which the team is justifiably proud.

In addition to the Helpline, we continue to assist members who are confronted with workplace-based claims. In 2017, the REEF team represented 75 employers across Australia before various industrial tribunals and courts on matters including claims of unlawful termination, underpayment of wages and commission, discrimination and unfair contracts.

The team also helped hundreds of members improve their human resource and personnel management practices by providing guidance on issues such as preparing job descriptions, employment contracts and commission structures, as well as helping with employee performance management issues.

The depth of knowledge and experience each member of the REEF team requires in order to effectively provide these services is truly astonishing. I’d like to therefore congratulate each member of the team for a job extremely well done:

  • Dianne Craig, our long-serving (and only) Administration Manager. Dianne looks after all elements of REEF’s administration, from answering the phone to maintaining the membership database and financial records, and everything in between. She’s the friendly voice on the end of the line when you call REEF.
  • Our team of Workplace Relations Advisors, headed up by Laura Clark and including Amy Thompson, Anna Ly and James Burton.
  • Greg Paterson, our Membership Services Director and REEF’s ‘all-rounder’. Greg many roles include mentoring the REEF team, driving membership growth, and guiding and protecting the workplace interests of real estate employers at appearances before the Fair Work Commission.

I’d like to thank Dianne, Laura, Amy, Anna, James and Greg for their outstanding efforts throughout the year

The Committee of Management is, of course, also very ably supported by REEF’s Chief Executive Officer, Bryan Wilcox. As a passionate advocate for the interests of real estate employers, I’d like to thank him for his leadership over the past year.

To our major partner

I’d like to say a sincere thanks to our long-term major partner REI Super. We’re grateful for their commitment to REEF and we’re certainly proud to be associated with them. I encourage all members to take advantage of REI Super’s products, services and advice.

To our members and subscribers

The very fabric of REEF is built around those loyal real estate employers who, year after year, join our ranks. It is because of you that we have grown to be the leading workplace relations voice for the real estate industry.

While there will always be turnover in our ranks, it’s incredibly pleasing to note the high percentage of renewals each year. Having this support over the ‘long haul’ is essential – so thank you for your commitment to REEF. As a not-for-profit organisation, your loyalty is vital.


Without doubt, 2017 was a year that placed an ever-increasing demand on our resources, but we remained true to our objective of providing real estate employers with quality workplace relations services that help to minimise employment risks. These risks, if left unattended, have the potential to do irreparable damage to a business. It’s these services that represent the true value of joining REEF.

The coming year will see the commencement of the new Real Estate Industry Award, which will bring with it a new industrial landscape and new challenges for real estate employers. REEF’s team of Workplace Relations Advisors will be on hand to guide and support you throughout the transition period and ensure you don’t fall foul of your obligations as employers. There’s never been a more important time to have access to REEF’s products and services.

I thank you sincerely for your support of REEF in 2017 and we look forward to working closely with you over the course of the coming year and into the future.