REEF President gives annual report at AGM

At the recent AGM, REEF President Fred Andriessen presented his first annual report to members and shared some of REEF’s big wins during 2016.

2016 was BIG year

In 2016, it was a great honour for me to be elected as President of the REEF Committee of Management – and, on behalf of the Committee, I’m very pleased to present my first annual report to members.

But before I get started, I just want to take a moment to reflect. I believe that the biggest threat to our real estate businesses is not a housing market slowdown, economic uncertainty or adapting to the need to constantly make business improvements to cope with ever increasing competition.

No. The biggest threat to our businesses is the escalating minefield of employment laws and workplace regulation. Every day, more and more of our members are telling us about the unprecedented amount of time they’re sacrificing to comply with the ever-changing workplace relations framework.

Our members have a sense of fear, apprehension and uncertainty – are they doing the right thing? That’s why REEF exists. We’re here to help answer your workplace questions and solve your employment problems. We’re here to allay your fears. We’re in the business of helping your business.

REEF is, of course, the leading organisation representing the workplace interests of real estate employers and 2016 has, without doubt, been a big year for us. Really BIG!

Here’s a snapshot of just some of the activities we’ve been involved in on behalf of members over the last 12 months. Though not exhaustive, I believe it demonstrates the ‘hard yards’ REEF has put in – often behind the scenes – to secure a better workplace environment for our members.

We celebrated a BIG birthday

In 2016, REEF celebrated 50 years as the leading workplace relations voice for real estate employers.

REEF was founded back in 1966, when industrial regulation was introduced into our industry. Back then, it was determined that an independent, membership-based organisation should be established to represent the needs of real estate employers in negotiating industrial awards with unions.

While this still remains one of REEF’s core functions today, our objectives have expanded significantly in recent years. We now provide members with exclusive access to a range of products and services specifically designed to assist and guide you in managing your employee relationships.

Here’s just a snapshot of how we helped members in 2016:

  • We responded to more than 12,000 member calls to the Helpline
  • We helped members resolve more than 400 serious employment disputes
  • We provided advocacy services for more than 50 members before the Fair Work Commission, Fair Work Ombudsman and Human Rights Commission
  • We educated the industry by conducting more than 40 presentations and webinars
  • We shared vital information and industry-specific employment documents via more than 16,000 visits to our website

REEF will always work hand in hand with members, and will provide you with the solutions you need, because:

  • We know how the real estate industry works
  • We understand the problems small business owners face each day
  • We have a highly-qualified team with a ‘can do’ attitude
  • We provide an extremely cost-effective solution to workplace relations needs
  • We have a proven track record in short circuiting problems for members

Starting out with just a handful of members in 1966, we now have almost 1,500 members – so we must be doing something right.

But we’re not resting on our laurels. Our goal is to not only maintain meaningful, cost-effective and quality products and services, but to continue to build our suite of integrated solutions to help you work better and worry less.

With 50 successful years under our belt, we’re now looking toward the next 50.

Our team underwent some BIG changes

Senior management restructure

A big year of change at REEF HQ started with Bryan Wilcox resigning his position as President of the REEF Committee of Management after selling his real estate business.

Bryan joined the Committee of Management in 1998 and was elected as President in 2000. For 16 years, Bryan provided an outstanding level of leadership and I’d like to extend my congratulations and thanks to him for all his work throughout his time on the Committee.

Though he didn’t go far. It wasn’t long before Bryan was back in the REEF fold.

In June 2016, we announced a senior management restructure aimed at improving our services, increasing the interaction we have with members and securing the future growth and expansion of the organisation.

After 23 years as Executive Director, Greg Paterson decided to step down and move into the newly created position of Membership Services Director and Bryan accepted the role of Chief Executive Officer.

The next 3-5 years will see REEF focusing on growing our membership base and expanding our reach interstate. As we move into this new phase, the time was right to look at how to best position REEF for the future and the restructure allows the team to work to their collective strengths.

On behalf of the Committee of Management, I’d like to offer my most heartfelt thanks to Greg for his tireless and dedicated service to REEF over many years. His knowledge and expertise in the field of workplace relations is unrivalled and his commitment to fighting the good fight on behalf of members has undoubtedly resulted in a better industrial framework for our industry.

Greg’s passion has always been to work directly with members and assist them with their workplace issues. We were thrilled when Greg decided to move into the Membership Services Director position, as it will allow him to focus more directly on driving membership growth and guiding and protecting the workplace interests of members.

We were also incredibly happy to have Bryan take up the position of CEO. His 16 years as President of the Committee of Management allowed him to develop an in-depth knowledge of the industrial relations space as it applies to real estate. And having spent his entire work life in the real estate industry, he has an intimate understanding of issues and challenges our members face each and every day.

With Bryan taking up the position of CEO and Greg transitioning to the role of Membership Services Director, we look forward to the next stage of the evolution of REEF.

But the changes at REEF HQ didn’t stop there.

Some new additions

At the start of 2016 we welcomed Laura Clark and Anna Egri to the team. No doubt both of them are, by now, well known to our members who call the Helpline.

In a constantly changing workplace environment, agents need access to expert, concise and cost-effective information and advice – and Laura and Anna, under the expert guidance of our Workplace Relations Director Mark Helm, are on hand to provide it. Full of passion, enthusiasm and plenty of empathy, they’ve both proven to be excellent additions to the REEF team.

An increase in calls by members to the Helpline led us to bring on another two new team members in March 2016. James Burton and Anna Ly are our Workplace Relations Support Officers, providing invaluable support to Mark and the rest of the Workplace Relations Team and adding to the strength of the service we’re able to provide to members.

Our brand had a BIG overhaul

If you’re a regular visitor to, then no doubt you’ll have seen our fabulous new website design. The launch of the new website in mid 2016 is a showcase for the refreshed REEF brand. While we’ve retained the well-known and recognised REEF logo, we’ve brightened our brand colours and refreshed our brand graphics – and we’re really pleased with the results.

Our goal was to position REEF as a professional, authoritative, contemporary and innovative organisation. To achieve this, we engaged an experienced creative team – Emily Boldeman from Bird Project for graphic design and Wordcraft Media’s Cath Dickinson for copywriting, strategy and project management.

I think you’ll agree – the results are stunning!

The website was the first piece of the puzzle. Since launching the website, we’ve also refreshed a wide range of our corporate collateral and brochures – including the much-loved Employers’ Guide.

Keep an eye out, because there’s more to come. A new membership brochure is planned and all our fact sheets and rates of pay brochures are currently being re-designed.

We made a BIG impression across NSW

One of the most popular things we do each year is the Roadshow. In 2016, in conjunction with the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales, we visited 20 locations around the state during May, June and July. More than 1000 agents attended the Roadshow, where we provided an important update about what’s happening in the workplace relations space.

After many years travelling around New South Wales, Greg Paterson has handed the Roadshow baton to Bryan Wilcox. Thank you Greg for all the hours and kilometres you’ve put in over recent years to make the Roadshow such a success and a must-attend annual event for our members.

We survived the BIG review

With 2016 came the four year review of the Real Estate Award – and we were hard at work representing the interests of members. It’s a legal requirement that the award is reviewed every four years by the Fair Work Commission, and the review process allows industry participants to seek changes to any provisions they see as being unfair.

Throughout the review process, our sole focus was protecting the interests of our members. We strongly opposed proposals to increase minimum rates of pay, to underpin commission-only arrangements with a safety net wage and to impose serious restrictions on the debit-credit commission system.

The review was finally heard by the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission in November 2016 after two years of negotiations amongst interested parties, including employer groups (such as REEF) and real estate unions.

REEF engaged the services of one of Australia’s leading barristers to ensure our members had the best possible legal representation representing their rights as real estate employers. While it was time consuming and expensive, we believe it was money well spent.

The outcome of the review is expected shortly and as we await news of what lies ahead for our industry one thing is for sure – there’s never been a more important time to be a member of REEF. As a member, you’ll be the first to hear about the impact of the Fair Work Commission’s review and you’ll receive copies of the new award and new rates of pay.

We made a BIG decision about the People Management People

One of the most valuable benefits of REEF membership is access to the award-winning People Management System. Configured to meet the specific needs of real estate employers, it’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and allows members to access critical advice and manage employees through each stage of the employment life cycle.

In late 2016, the Committee of Management endorsed a three-year renewal of the Service Agreement with EnableHR, the company providing the platform for the People Management System.

The renewal means REEF will continue to provide members with this essential service – and we’re extremely proud that we’re able to provide this technology to members at no extra cost. It’s a considerable investment and represents REEF’s second largest expenditure (behind wages), which is indicative of the importance we place on this technology and the role it plays in ensuring members are compliant and have streamlined processes.

If you’re one of the few members still to experience the benefits of the People Management System, I strongly encourage you to take some time and explore its functionality. There’s no doubt it will enhance your current workplace management systems.

A BIG thank you to

The Committee of Management

In November 2016, members elected a new Committee of Management for the upcoming two-year term. REEF’s success is due in no small part to the energy, 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.

I’d like to take the opportunity to say a sincere thanks to this dedicated group of individuals for their contribution to the Committee of Management:

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

The REEF team

The success of any organisation depends upon its people – and there’s little doubt REEF’s ongoing success is due in no small way to the commitment of the REEF team. Their expertise, professionalism and enthusiasm is essential to providing first-class advice and service to our members.

On behalf of all members, I’d like to thank this remarkable team:

  • Chief Executive Officer: Bryan Wilcox
  • Membership Services Director: Greg Paterson
  • Administration Manager: Dianne Craig
  • Workplace Relations Director: Mark Helm
  • Workplace Relations Advisors: Laura Clark and Anna Egri
  • • Workplace Relations Support Officers: James Burton and Anna Ly

You’ll go a long way to find a more dedicated group of professionals. They are all to be congratulated for the outstanding work they do to help members navigate the complex workplace relations environment.

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 you, our members

As a not-for-profit organisation, we rely on your continuing support to allow us to provide a range of essential services to help guide, support and grow your real estate business. Thank you for your continuing support and we look forward to working closely with you over the course of the coming year.

There’s BIG things ahead

This year is shaping up to be one of the most challenging in REEF’s 50-year history, but we’re well positioned to carry out our role as the leading workplace relations voice for the real estate industry.

We will continue to maintain our meaningful, cost-effective and quality products and services. And we will continue to build on the benefits of membership by best leveraging our resources to represent the interests of your business.

There’s never been a more important time to be a member of REEF and it’s in this spirit that this report summarises our main activities for 2016.