Community Engagement

Our customers and retailers, and the communities we serve, are at the heart of our business. This means being fully open and engaged, and cultivating living centres which communities are proud to call their own. As the local hubs of trade for our areas, we have a unique opportunity to enrich the social wellbeing of our local regions. Our commitment to true community engagement ensures we are delivering our purpose of creating extraordinary places, connecting and enriching communities.

Re-setting our community platform

In 2017 Scentre Group undertook a significant review of its approach to community engagement in order to deliver greater benefits and shared value to
key stakeholders.

As part of the review, internal and external stakeholders were consulted to understand how we could best participate in, engage with and contribute to our communities in order to meet our vision of being essential to our communities. Our refined approach is simple: we discover, celebrate and contribute to the things that are relevant and meaningful to each of our communities.

In 2018 we will launch the exciting new Westfield Local Heroes program across Australia and New Zealand, recognising and celebrating important local people, groups and programs and contributing to their growth and development.

We will also deliver our community engagement commitment through a number of other activity streams across both the Scentre Group and Westfield brands, with the following initiatives:

  • Westfield community sites: We provide space in all Westfield centres for community-focussed groups (i.e. not-for-profit sports groups, community groups, charities and welfare organisations) to fundraise and connect with people in the local area.
  • Community plans: Each Westfield centre sets its unique plan for engaging and partnering with, celebrating and contributing to its local communities.
  • Volunteering and workplace giving: Our staff are passionate about contributing to charities and community-focussed groups. We support them to do this through volunteer leave and workplace giving.
  • State and national partnerships: We are building and nurturing opportunities for Scentre Group to further partner with community, retail and corporate organisations.

Our performance will be measured against the development of a community strategy that delivers shared benefits to Scentre Group and the community, and the level of consultation and engagement around community needs and wants.

Our outcomes in 2017:

  • Delivery of Scentre Group’s community engagement strategy with set objectives for the community and the business
  • Consultation and feedback with staff and community stakeholders to inform the community engagement strategy
  • Inventory of all current community initiatives across the Australian and New Zealand portfolio
  • Development of a best practice database of community initiatives

Future initiatives:

  • Develop and implement centre-specific community engagement plans
  • Implement programs and initiatives that discover, celebrate and contribute to those things that are relevant and meaningful to the community, and help community stakeholders meet their objectives
  • Consult local community stakeholders to identify and deliver new partnership and engagement opportunities, and improve existing ones

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Community and charity partnerships

Scentre Group continued to support a number of long-standing charity partners throughout 2017. Between 2008 and 2016, $15.4 million was provided to our charity partners supporting the families and carers of children with disabilities through fundraising, grants and donations via the former Westfield Community Program. During the year, Scentre Group donated over $1.75 million to these charity partners as we reviewed and developed our new community engagement strategy.

Through each of our Westfield centres, we continue to provide valuable space to community-focussed groups. Charities, local sporting groups, not-for-profit and welfare organisations use the dedicated community sites on an ongoing basis to raise awareness or funds for their work. During the year Legacy activated sites in 28 Westfield centres during Legacy Badge Week, raising over $100,000 to support Australian families of incapacitated
war veterans.

Scentre Group’s internal business units and individual centres also help charities and community groups to meet their goals in a variety of ways including financial donations, fundraising support, in-kind sponsorship, promotion and partnership programs and staff volunteering.

Corporate sponsorships and partnerships are another way that we help the community, with $2.77 million contributed towards corporate sponsorships in 2017.

As an official partner of women’s football with Football Federation Australia, we are the naming rights sponsor of the Westfield Matildas, Westfield W-League, Westfield Young Matildas and Westfield Youth Championship for Girls, supporting female footballers from the grassroots through to professional. At the grassroots level, female participation numbers have surpassed 100,000 for the first time and the Westfield Matilda’s are at an all-time high, ranked fourth in the world (FIFA Global Rankings).

We look forward to continuing to support women’s football as it continues to grow in popularity among our community.

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Our Indigenous community

Scentre Group has made significant progress towards our commitments when we released our inaugural Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in 2016. Our approach thus far has focussed on connecting with and enriching Indigenous communities within and outside Scentre Group, and embedding reconciliation into our business practices and decision making.

This approach has centred around three key pillars: relationships, respect and opportunities.

To that end, we have educated and engaged our people around the objectives of reconciliation and the importance of our work in closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. A number of initiatives have been undertaken as part of our RAP commitments with several significant programs delivered in 2017.

A RAP Guidelines document, designed to educate and inform any member of our team about Indigenous history and culture, and provide a starting point to help build stronger relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was issued to all staff during the year.

The implementation and ongoing roll out of cultural awareness and unconscious bias training across our business has ensured there is now a consistent approach to local reconciliation efforts throughout our Australian centres.

All annual business plans now incorporate the commitments in our RAP, ensuring our people are able to identify and connect their contribution to Scentre Group’s RAP and Australia’s reconciliation journey.

Throughout the year, the Group celebrated significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander events, including National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week, in our corporate offices as well as within Westfield centres as part of a broader community program. Each of these symbolic dates throughout the year provided an opportunity for our centres, teams and people to meaningfully engage with our Indigenous communities around Australia.

Each of our centres (that hadn’t already done so) held a dedication ceremony during NAIDOC Week in which a permanent plaque was unveiled, acknowledging the Country on which the centre stands.

Key achievements in bringing our RAP to life have included:

  • implementation of a full time trainee in construction at Westfield Warringah Mall
  • acceptance of 16 state-based trainess across NSW and QLD through our partnership with the Aboriginal Employment Strategy
  • exploring opportunities to expand the AFL Sports Ready Program in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia

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Development projects

Scentre Group maintains a future development pipeline in excess of $3 billion, and as each of these projects comes to life we have a unique opportunity to connect with our local communities as we shape their local centre to meet their needs.

One of our strategic objectives, as the largest listed real estate investment trust in Australia, is to own, manage and develop the best retail assets in Australia and New Zealand. We grow our business through the continual reinvestment into our high quality shopping centre portfolio and across 2017 we had $1.3 billion worth of projects under construction.

In June we completed a $355 million redevelopment at Westfield Chermside, coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the centre – which was in fact Australia’s first shopping centre on opening in 1957. The completion of this project transformed retail in Brisbane’s north with the addition of a new fashion mall, some 95 new stores and significantly – a new community space in the form of a resort-style dining, leisure and entertainment precinct.

Construction at Westfield Chermside

In Western Australia, we completed the first of our three major redevelopments planned for Perth over the next few years, with the opening of an $80 million new precinct at Westfield Whitford City. The new area, which features a range of unique restaurants and cinemas set around a landscaped public space, has provided Perth’s northern beaches community with a bespoke public space that is a genuine entertainment destination for local families.

The commencement of a $350 million major redevelopment at Westfield Carousel was the second project underway in Perth during the year, providing the Group with an opportunity for deeper engagement with a trade area that includes almost one third of the city’s population, with around 642,000 people.

The Group also commenced a new ‘greenfield’ redevelopment – our first in more than a decade – with the $470 million project at Westfield Coomera on Queensland’s Gold Coast. The new centre will deliver to the local community 59,000 square metres of retail and lifestyle space encompassing around 140 new retailers and a leisure and entertainment precinct.

A project at Westfield Plenty Valley in Melbourne’s north has similarly provided the local community with a new lifestyle destination that is centred around dining, leisure and entertainment.

In each of these projects the Group has engaged with the local communities to share information, receive feedback and foster closer relationships so that each Westfield centre is much more than simply a place to shop but a place where we can make a genuine connection and contribution.

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Industry and government engagement

Scentre Group’s memberships and association with a wide range of organisations ensures a sustained engagement on issues that are relevant for our business.

The Group engages with government at all levels for a range of key issues that are important to our business. With our future development active pipeline of more than $3 billion, our most regular government engagement is with the planning authorities in relation to the detailed requirements with which we comply in order to maintain and continually improve our assets.

We are also members of or associate with a number of organisations which oversee the many business-critical issues that govern our industry in relation to retail, planning and climate change.

Scentre Group is a member of the following organisations in Australia and New Zealand:

  • Energy Users Association Australia (EUAA)
  • NABERS Retail Technical Advisory Group
  • New Zealand Green Building Council
  • New Zealand Property Council
  • Packaging Council of New Zealand
  • Property Council of Australia
  • Property Council Sustainability Roundtable
  • Service Skills Australia
  • Shopping Centre Council of Australia

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Staff Engagement and Volunteering

At Scentre Group, we recognise the shared value that is created when we support our people to give back to their communities. We run a workplace giving and dollar matching program and also provide our people with two volunteer days annually. The contribution made during the year by our people – in terms of both their time and their money – reflects the willingness and commitment of Scentre Group staff to enrich their communities.

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