Our Community House (OC House) is a world-first data-focussed co-working space for social sector organisations located in North Melbourne, Victoria.
OC House brings together more than 400 not-for-profit and social enterprise (social sector) workers to share facilities, collaborate and rethink how change is made in Australia.
Backed by Australia’s leading social investors and managed by Our Community – one of Australia’s first and most successful social enterprises – OC House is a modern, sustainable, art-filled, human-centred workplace that’s designed to inspire innovation, creativity and inclusion.
Importantly, the building is designed to foster a fundamentally different work culture, one that respects its employees' desire for an authentic work-life balance, while offering the opportunity to shape the world.
It also includes the world’s first social innovation data science and communications lab, which is designed to help bring Australia’s social sector safely and productively into the data era.
The seeds for OC House were sown when two of Australia’s leading innovators, social investor Carol Schwartz AM and Our Community founder Denis Moriarty, were looking for a way to transmit the lessons from building Our Community into a sustainable, data-activated organisation to the social sector more generally.
Together with the team at Our Community they planned a space that would bring together clever, ethical, passionate people with a common desire to create a better world. Importantly, the building would pay due respect to the people who worked there – no more would hard-working social sector workers be forced to put up with sub-standard accommodation; OC House would be modern, environmentally sustainable, technologically forward, tastefully furnished, art-filled, and responsive to the needs of contemporary workers.
The building at 552 Victoria St, North Melbourne was purchased in May 2018 by Carol and her husband Alan and turned over a couple of months later to Our Community and a team of bright young design and building professionals to make the magic happen.
It’s due to open in February 2019.
Our Community House is designed around the belief that co-location of people from diverse backgrounds working on diverse problems can result in financial savings and increased efficiency, as well as opportunities for collaboration and innovation. Throw in access to modern technology and data science and communications education and tools and you get rapid acceleration of social impact.
Besides its social agenda, the development of OC House has been informed by the ethos of its lead tenant, Our Community, whose Manifesto states:
We believe in the power of the community sector
We believe in human capital
We believe in equality
We believe women have equal rights to leadership roles
We believe technology is a key to accelerating our reform agenda
We believe laughter is good
We believe work can be a place to make friends for life
We believe business is good and can do good
We believe treating people with respect gains respect
We believe mayhem is not only healthy but critical
Like other Our Community-led initiatives, OC House is built around a self-sustaining social enterprise model, with paid products and services (such as OC House membership fees) helping to subsidise free or reduced-cost ones (e.g. training, meetups and dissemination of data science lessons and tools). We aim to reach as many organisations as possible so we can make our tools as cheap as possible.
Our Community is the lead tenant at Our Community House, locating at the new building its 60 staff serving the organisation’s numerous enterprises, including SmartyGrants, GiveNow, the Institute of Community Directors Australia, Funding Centre, and the Australian Institute of Grants Management.
Our Community is a long-established social enterprise and highly-ranked Accredited B Corp, whose paid products and services cross-subsidise a range of free and heavily subsidised services for not-for-profits. You can read more about Our Community here.
OC House also serves as headquarters for WISE Employment, a not-for-profit employment services provider with offices in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia and the Northern Territory.
The building will be tenanted in stages during 2019, eventually holding around 400 people serving dozens of diverse organisations.
The Our Community House team is the secret sauce that makes the building buzz. OC House team members are passionate about giving members the best workplace experience possible while driving forward the social agenda that makes this initiative so unique.
The OC House team is led by Our Community Founder and Group Managing Director Denis Moriarty. Denis has a strong background in executive management in both the public and private sectors.
Kathy is Our Community’s Executive Director and Chaos Controller. She works alongside the Group Managing Director to oversee the organisation's many enterprises, and helps to lead reforms and new business directions.
Eden is the powerhouse behind OC House. There’s not a nook or cranny in the building or its operations that he isn’t on top of. Eden is excited to establish and surround himself with a vibrant community of social sector organisations everyday.
Lachlan is Our Community House’s content and marketing guru. With a passion for politics and love for writing, Lachlan completed his Bachelor of Arts degree at The University of Melbourne at the end of 2018.
Sarah heads up Our Community’s Innovation Lab, leading the organisation’s shift into the world of data science. She coordinates the OC House data science program.