We are strata owners – supporting each other, sharing information and advocating for our communities
WE ARE THE INDEPENDENT VOICE OF STRATA OWNERS
The Owners Corporation Network exists to help strata owners navigate the complexities of strata living, from social and organisational challenges to financial and legal issues. Our people have first-hand experience of living in strata and the upsides and downsides of this fast-growing residential sector.
We provide a range of services to members and also guidance and education for the wider community on achieving harmonious communal living.
We can help provide strategies for navigating and resolving many of the common issues that arise, whether you live in a strata apartment, villa or townhouse. We also take a pro-active role in advocating the interests of owners, including engaging with government and industry on critical topics such as consumer protection, strata body governance and building defects.
We are fiercely independent and not aligned with any commercial interest – what matters to you as a strata owner or resident is what matters most to us.
Our purpose is to be the independent voice of apartment and other forms of residential strata title ownership. We achieve this by:
• Advocating for changes to legislation and other policy instruments and arrangements affecting residential strata title, unit title, and community title
• Facilitating discussion forums for our members both face to face and online
• Providing selected services to our members to assist them with living in a communal environment
• Educating owners about matters of importance to harmonious communal living through our website, webinars and seminars
Respect We value all members in our diverse communities.
Integrity We act with courage, honesty, and truthfulness in our words and actions.
Independence We are independent in pursuing our purpose.
Public Interest We act in the public interest.
Accountability We maintain the highest standards of professionalism and personal responsibility.
Information published by OCN members through OCN website discussion forums does not represent legal advice and does not necessarily represent OCN’s view or carry OCN endorsement.
OCN will not involve itself in individual disputes in schemes.
The four strategic directions identified in the OCN’s 2021-2026 Strategic Plan provide us with direction and a roadmap of how we aim to achieve our vision and mission over the next five years:
- Build a capable and sustainable organisation
- Engage, inform, and educate our members
- Grow our voice, presence, and membership
- Advocate for a Better Future through enhanced policy and legislative change
OCN Strategic Plan 2022-2026
Capable and Sustainable Organisation
To be effective OCN aims to be financially sustainable by seeking grants, sponsorship, developing value adding products, seminars and other sustainable revenue generating solutions. We also seek long term government funding based on our value to the community.
Inform & Educate Members
OCN delivers education and trusted information that is responsive and tailored to the needs of our members. These opportunities are geared toward practical solutions for strata living challenges.
Grow Our Voice
To influence change, OCN must grow a diverse and inclusive membership that is representative of the residential strata community. And establish and maintain strategic partnerships to build capacity and a shared voice.
OCN advocates for liveable and sustainable residential communities based on good governance, free from conflicts of interest. Policy will be guided by the public interest and informed by the lived experience of strata residents.
> Download OCN Limited Constitution – adopted November 2019
We strive to inform, educate, support and advocate for strata owners and residents.
These are just some of our achievements:
2022 – Link to Year in Review
EV CHARGING – OCN developed electric vehicle charging guidance for the NSW Office of Energy and Climate Change, and produced a comprehensive suite of fact sheets, guides and a by-law to assist schemes on the EV charging journey.
2021 – Link to Year in Review
SUBMISSION SUCCESS: Substantial submission to the 5 year review of the Strata Schemes Development and Management Acts outlining reforms required to improve strata living. We conducted a full members survey of concerns and needs and delivered results to the Minister
COVID-19 ACTION: Policy success to mandate masks and highlight the unique needs and transmission risks in apartments to assist committees with the complexities posed by the pandemic.
SCHEME SUPPORT: We provided a detailed report into the risks and impacts of short-term letting and canvassed options to better support strata schemes.
TOWARDS TRUSTWORTHY BUILDINGS: We participated in development of the robust iCIRT Ratings Tool, the Construct NSW steering group and 3 of the 6 underpinning Reform Pillars. Working closely with the Building Commissioner and stakeholders.
OCN FRONTS GOVERNMENT: OCN again testified before the Upper House Committee in relation to the government’s positive building reform program, including the flammable cladding replacement program.
2020 – Link to Year in Review
RIGHT TO DECIDE: We achieved a hard-fought ability for owners corporations to prohibit investor owners from short term letting and commissioned a members-only proforma short term letting by-law to effect that.
PROTECTION: Our 2019 advocacy caused the NSW government to legislate a retrospective statutory duty of care owed to NSW Strata owners by building practitioners.
CONSULTATION: Driving the creation of a NSW Strata Portal, a first for Australia. This portal will allow government agencies to communicate directly with Owners Corporations and identify and analyse strata trends to better support owners.
2019 – 2019 Year in Review
REPRESENTATION: We were called to give testimony on behalf of strata owners to the NSW Inquiry into the Regulation of Building Standards, Quality and Disputes.
EXPERTISE: OCN was an active participant in stakeholder roundtables during the development of the NSW Design and Building Practitioners Bill and provided advice to the government on improving protection for strata buyers and apartment owners.
2018 – Link to Year in Review
RIGHTS: Our lobbying resulted in the NSW government permitting Owners Corporations to protect the rights of residents to peaceful enjoyment through OCs banning short-term letting by non-residents.
PROTECTION: OCN partnered with the UNSW City Futures Research Centre to carry out research into the cause of and solutions to the high level of avoidable defects in residential strata buildings.
SAFETY: OCN was vocal on the issue of identifying and rectifying flammable cladding including a social media campaign, support for affected members and obtaining legal advice and that advocacy has continued into 2020.
PROTECTION: Our advocacy permitted residential strata schemes, including mixed use buildings where the residential component exceeds 50%, and buildings valued at more than $50 million to access the Australian Terrorism Pool so they are now insured for terrorism related events.
GOVERNANCE: We collaborated with industry bodies to develop NSW government policy which facilitated a lower voting threshold for Strata Renewal with a robust protective framework for dissenters.
CONSUMER RIGHTS: We facilitated the requirement for a defect bond for buildings over three storeys and succeeded in having Developers prohibited from voting on defects in the crucial first years of a scheme’s life.
REPRESENTATION: We have participated as members of major government and industry committees and boards including the NSW Building Professionals Board, the NSW Fair Trading Strata Reference Group, the City of Sydney Residential Apartment Sustainability Reference Group, and the NBN Lift & Fire Alarm Migration Group.
FUTURE-FOCUS: We are signatories to Planning for People: A Community Charter for Good Planning in NSW. OCN is also a Founding Partner with UNSW City Futures Research Centre in producing the Australia-first “Governing the Compact City” report, generating substantial media interest in building defects and the 2015 report on Economically Viable and Socially Sustainable Approaches to Urban Redevelopment (strata renewal) .
STRATEGIC THINKING: To ensure long-term protection of property, we successfully advocated for NSW Capital Works/Sinking Fund Plans with 10-year plans now required on a sliding scale relating to size and age of plan.
BUYER PROTECTION: We caused the creation of a Register of Home Owners Warranty certificates to prevent forged certificates. OCN also caused a breach of defect rectification orders by builders to be an offence, and achieved a ban on developers acting as strata manager for the first ten years of their building’s life and avoiding defects rectification.
TRANSPARENCY: We initiated the legislative obligation for NSW developers to deliver “as built” plans and drawings to the Owners Corporation.
GOVERNANCE: In 2005 we caused legislative change requiring the circulation of minutes and agendas, and also in 2005 a requirement for 10 Year Sinking Fund Plans (now Capital Works Fund Plans). In 2015 it became mandatory for those plans to be linked to the annual budget and if they are not, an explanation for this must be provided to owners.
INFLUENCE: In 2003 we achieved legislative change recognising “large strata schemes”.
ADVOCACY: In 2002 as a result of our advocacy, the NSW Government convened the Joint Select Committee on the Quality of Buildings. We have consistently worked to raise public awareness of the correlation between private certification and building defects.
Alex Greenwich MP on the Residential Apartment Buildings (Compliance & Enforcement Powers) Bill 2020, Hansard 3 June 2020:
“I thank the Owners Corporation Network for working with my office on this amendment … The amendment strengthens the strong consumer protections in the bill. This is an historic day for building reform and consumer protections for people who live in apartments in New South Wales.”
Shadow Minister Yasmin Catley MP on the Residential Apartment Buildings (Compliance & Enforcement Powers) Bill 2020, Hansard 3 June 2020:
“The Owners Corporation Network [and others] have been meeting with me over a number of years as we have collectively worked to improve the bills and ensure that the building reforms would have some substance to them.”
“I thank the member for Sydney for his sensible amendment, which the Labor Opposition will support. As the member for Sydney said, the amendment is a further safeguard within what is a very good piece of legislation. The member also noted that the amendment came about due to the advocacy of the Owners Corporation Network. I, too, express my thanks to the OCN for its advocacy for those who live in apartment buildings across the State.”
The Hon Kevin Anderson MP, Minister for Innovation & Better Regulation on the Residential Apartment Buildings (Compliance & Enforcement Powers) Bill 2020, Hansard 3 June 2020:
“The Government is supportive of the modification and believes it is a sensible change that recognises that there may be some circumstances in which an occupier would have a reasonable excuse to not comply. We are grateful to the Owners Corporation Network as well as the member for Sydney and his constituents, who have raised the issue with my office. We are sympathetic to the concerns they have raised. I thank the member for Sydney for moving the amendment, which the Government will support.”
Shadow Minister for Building Reform & Property, Yasmin Catley, on the Design & Building Practitioners Bill 2019:
“As members know, the Owners Corporation Network was very strong on this matter. I know that the member for Sydney will agree with me that the network has been incredible in its advocacy for the people it represents, who of course are the cohort that is so affected by these problems and the crisis in our building industry.”
Member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, on the Design & Building Practitioners Bill 2019:
“Before closing, I acknowledge the tremendous work of the Owners Corporation Network in getting to this outcome. The team continues to provide me with advice on improving protections for apartment owners and has been integral to improving the regime put forward in the bill.”
The Hon Anthony Roberts, Minister for Fair Trading, May 2015
“From the outset let me commend the Owners Corporation Network for its immense contribution to the reviews of the home building legislation and strata and community title law. In particular I thank your organisation for its insightful and well argued submissions in response to the Reform of the Home Building Act 1989 Issues Paper and the Strata and Community Title Law Reform Discussion Paper, and its constructive participation in subsequent stakeholder roundtables to discuss the major issues arising from these reviews.
The Owners Corporation Network has been an indispensible participant in the consultation process for these reviews and its tireless advocacy has helped lay the foundation for meaningful reform.
I also commend the Owners Corporation Network for the initiative and goodwill it has shown in working together with the Property Council of Australia and Urban Taskforce Australia to find so much common ground on potential reforms to the home building legislation and the strata and community title laws. Confidence about building quality and the resolution of defects and disputes is in the interests of homeowners and builders alike.”
Minister for Fair Trading – Home Building Act Acknowledgement 2015
Fred Tuckwell, Chair, Treasurer
Fred brings a combination of executive and technical experience to OCN including a decade as a senior manager Director role with Telstra. The previous Chair of the large, self-managed Waratah Building strata community, he also has deep practical knowledge such as building and construction skills, capital management, large scale project management and product management
Since joining the OCN Board, Fred has undertaken leadership roles in securing City of Sydney grant funding, developed our website replacement project and webinar series, established our EV Charging in Residential buildings strategy and policies and secured NSW Government funding for specialist EV consulting.
Gerald Chia BEc, Secretary
Gerry has been living and investing in strata since 2005 and has been actively involved in strata community governance as the Secretary and Chair of two strata committees and the Community Association. He has helped transform glass towers into vertical villages where residents feel pride and belonging, and where an annual BBQ he introduced now involves over 600 residents. Gerry has also achieved financial wins including introducing fixed strata management fees with no commissions, combining the insurance buying power of four stratas and the Community Association via an insurance broker.
Tom Belsham, BSc, MEM, MIET, CEng. Vice Chair
Tom brings more than 20 years’ senior leadership experience in corporate, small business and government organisations within the telecommunications and sustainability sectors in Australia and the UK. Tom has designed and led multi-million dollar strategies and work programs including, when at the City of Sydney, a comprehensive program of capacity building, advocacy and incentives for strata apartment buildings. As an investor in residential strata property, Tom gained first-hand experience of resolving major building defects when serving on the strata committee for his Sydney property. He is an advocate for organisations such as OCN, who provide independent and trusted advice, and who lead the transition to an apartment building and community sector that is resilient and sustainable.
Dr Lois Burgess, Director
In her early career, Lois held a number of high level admin and management positions in a NSW Government department. For the past 22 years prior to retirement at the end of 2020, she was employed as an academic in the School of Management and Marketing, Faculty of Business at UOW. Her role involved teaching and research in Marketing and PR. She holds a PhD in Marketing/IT.
For the past 6 years, Lois has lived in Strata and served on the SC. She has a very strong commitment to working with the OCN board to achieve its stated goals. To this end, Lois is able to bring skill and expertise in Strategy, Planning and Marketing and Communication.
Karen Stiles, Executive Director
Since joining OCN in January 2012 as Executive Officer, Karen has been active in advocating for better quality buildings, more effective consumer protections, improving legal and insurance arrangements and a planning system that ensures liveable urban communities. Her knowledge, networking abilities and passionate commitment to the sector have directly contributed to legislative changes that will benefit strata owners and residents now and into the future.
The Owners Corporation Network is a not-for-profit organisation.
To assist in providing valuable services for our members, OCN welcomes sponsorship by industry associates who will contribute to OCN’s purpose and help build our organisational capacity.
We offer a maximum of six Premium and eight Major sponsor opportunities.
For information on OCN’s sponsorship packages please contact [email protected]
Whether you have been living in a strata community for years or are wondering about buying a strata property – we are here to help you with support, information and resources.
The Independent Voice of Strata Owners
Owners Corporation Network of Australia Ltd
General Enquiries please email: [email protected]
For Media Enquiries please email [email protected]
You can make a donation towards OCN Advocacy and Support Services
The Owners Corporation Network is a not for profit member-based organisation.
We help strata owners navigate the complexities of strata living, from social and organisational challenges to financial and legal issues. Our people have first-hand experience of living in strata and the upsides and downsides of this fast-growing residential sector.
We provide a range of services to members and also guidance and education for the wider community on achieving harmonious communal living.
We also take a pro-active role in advocating the interests of owners with government and industry on critical topics such as consumer protection, strata body governance and building defects.
We are fiercely independent and not aligned with any commercial interest.