2021 ESG report: Our community

Our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy guides the way we engage with our communities.

Community Investment Program

In FY21, we reviewed our approach to the development and delivery of asset level community programs and worked to develop and implement a community investment program to drive measurable change that will deliver social, community and commercial value across GRE's asset portfolio.

This portfolio-wide approach is centred around responding to a key overarching social theme through a focused Community Investment Program. We believe this focus will allow us to deliver a significant and measurable impact across the many communities that our assets serve.

Flagship Social Theme Identification

To strategically align and maximise the impact of our community investment program, during the year QICGRE undertook a highly structured and evidence‐based approach to determine the most materially aligned social theme around which to build our Community Investment Program.

To inform this process, desktop research was undertaken to firstly understand what social themes might be prevalent or playing out at each of our assets and surrounding communities. This was supplemented with feedback from external stakeholder interviews conducted as part of the materiality deep dive, as well as surveys of centre management teams who were asked for anecdotes on the types of social themes they see commonly playing out at their centres, and what they believe they are best positioned to address at a centre level.

Informed by this initial piece, we were then able to identify a shorter list of relevant themes, which we took to an internal workshop involving senior management from across GRE and QIC more broadly to further interrogate and identify where we felt we could create the most impact. 'Physical health and wellbeing' was found to be the most relevant and strategically aligned social theme, where QICGRE can make a significant and measurable impact to local communities, based on the following considerations:

  • 60% of our centres are located in areas with a relatively less active population than the national average
  • Just under half of Australians had one or more chronic health conditions in 2017-18
  • Ability to deliver impactful programs that can make a real difference through the retail and office portfolio, rather than just awareness campaigns
  • Alignment with GRE's consumer experience strategy
  • Opportunity to align/partner with tenants
  • Can connect people, who already actively come to our assets, to enjoy and utilise the physical spaces in novel ways, through retailers and other facilities
  • Alignment with the growing wellness and athleisure trend
  • Alignment with GRE's existing strengths and what it can confidently deliver.

We are confident that significant impact and value can be achieved via this social theme through our day-to-day business activities, as well as through specific targeted programs across our retail and office portfolios. Importantly, the impact created is measurable, both for our local communities and GRE's assets.

The GRE Sustainability Committee has endorsed 'physical health and wellbeing' as the theme around which GRE will create our community investment program.

During FY22, we will work to finalise our theory of change, to confirm the impact we expect to create through this focus and identify how this will be measured. Additionally, we will undertake a partnership search to identify a community organisation with whom we can partner to deliver our community investment program's focus on physical health and wellbeing. Implementation will commence during FY22.

While each asset will deliver initiatives centred on our Community Investment Program's focus in a way that best resonates with their communities, other smaller initiatives that are more localised and aligned to local communities, such as The Sanctuary at Castle Towers, will continue to be a feature of our broader community initiatives.

FY21 Community Contributions

QICGRE has introduced Business for Societal Impact (B4SI) community contributions reporting for FY21. The B4SI Framework is a globally recognised best practice measurement standard that any company can apply to understand the difference their contributions make to their business and society. It does this by enabling companies to measure their activities through the three pillars of the Framework: Inputs, Outputs, and Impacts.

The FY21 reporting period is our first time reporting community contributions from across the portfolio, and the results can be seen below. During FY22, we plan on improving our data capture processes to ensure this reporting includes a more complete picture of our contributions across the portfolio.

In FY21, QICGRE contributed $696,214 to its communities throughout the year, through a mix of cash, time, in-kind and management costs.

A further $895,747 was contributed to the community as a foregone revenue via the provision of space for community initiatives across the asset portfolio. This includes spaces provided at our assets that were either already vacant or dedicated spaces in our assets for community activities.

FY21 Community Contributions

The focus for this reporting period was input data, that is, cash, time and in-kind contributions made to the community. As our approach and data collection methods mature, we will increase our emphasis on the broader value these inputs are having by measuring the outputs (for example, the activities delivered, numbers reached, funds raised and business-related activity resulting from the contributions made) and impacts (for example, the changes that happen to individuals, organisations and the company, in the short or longer-term, as a result of the activity) of the contributions made.

Contributions for the year were spread across over 250 different organisations supporting a wide variety of community focus areas. Key contribution areas included social welfare and health. In FY22 we will look to sharpen our focus on physical health and wellbeing as we introduce a national community investment program.

B4SI Community Focus Areas

* Note: Other includes COVID-19 responses, community fundraising, sporting clubs, etc. 

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Delivered through our assets, we're partnering with our communities to create tangible and valued ESG outcomes. To find out more about some of the recent community initiatives we've delivered, visit the Case Studies section of this report.

Reconciliation Action Plan

In November 2020, QIC launched its Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (Innovate RAP). Our vision for reconciliation, as one of Australia's leading, trusted and specialised investment managers, is an Australia that embraces equal, fair and just opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and actively supports reconciliation in our political, business and community structures.

QIC recognises the importance of building a better future for all Australians, which must pay respect to and build trust with Australia's First Nations Peoples. We are committed to partnering with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, businesses and communities to co-create meaningful investment outcomes and drive equal opportunities within our procurement, employment and investment activities.

To assist with the achievement of the Innovate RAP, QICGRE has developed a RAP delivery plan that identifies key activities in the spaces of Community Engagement and Awareness, Procurement and Governance, and Reporting, where QICGRE is well positioned to drive the achievement of QIC's RAP broader deliverables. This plan will be executed in FY22.

Supporting our communities during COVID-19

For QICGRE, the safety and wellbeing of the customers, retailers, tenants and staff at our retail and commercial assets is an overriding priority and something we take very seriously.

Active management with an agile, consultative approach and a strong focus on exemplary health and hygiene practices has been essential during this time to safeguard the health and wellbeing of all who work in and visit our assets.

From the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak, we have rapidly responded in alignment with advice from health authorities and industry associations, including the Shopping Centre Council of Australia and the Property Council of Australia, to coordinate response management, information sharing, and redress misinformation in the public domain, particularly on social media, about the impacts of the virus on community gathering places such as shopping centres.

Our on-the-ground response has been guided by our detailed scenario planning, as part of our business continuity and emergency management procedures across our retail and commercial portfolio. This has been particularly important for our shopping centre assets, which receive more than one million visitations annually, with all of our Australian centres remaining open throughout the pandemic to provide uninterrupted access to essential goods.

We have worked closely with our retail partners to provide them with support throughout this turbulent period, including developing a new technology support platform and providing a series of online workshops for Victorian retailers.

Providing continued support for our communities has also been integral to our approach, ranging from hosting drive-through COVID-19 testing sites, to our A Little Thanks Goes a Long Way initiative which takes opportunities to bring joy to those affected by COVID-19 and show their appreciation for essential workers who have continued to provide important services for the community throughout lockdowns.

Engaging with our Stakeholders

For QICGRE, much of our work centres on relationships. Fostering positive, working associations with those who influence or are influenced by our assets is critical to our success.

We approach the way we engage with our stakeholders by seeking to view the work we do through their lens and understanding their needs and priorities throughout the lifecycle of our assets.

We undertake a thorough process of identifying and mapping stakeholders via a range of internal forums, which include a cross-section of personnel from within our business. These personnel may include (but are not limited to) senior management, fund managers, asset investment managers and analysts, centre management staff, stakeholder relations officers, marketing teams, and construction and operational contactors.

This process is particularly relevant for the delivery of development projects at our assets, where we undertake comprehensive planning to minimise impacts to our retail partners, customers and the local community during construction works.

Preparation for development projects routinely includes stakeholder engagement activities such as: briefings with local Council, other local government representatives and local media, one-on-one meetings as required between retailers and Centre Managers, informal retailer engagement events hosted by Centre Management throughout the project delivery, as well as a range of information disseminated to the community including newsletters, websites, social media and regular project bulletins.

These engagement activities aim to provide a range of opportunities for our identified stakeholders to access information and ask questions on topics relating to the development such as potential impacts and what is being done to minimise these, access changes, future plans, and detailed information about what is being delivered through the project works.

Stakeholder engagement

We engage with a wide range of stakeholder groups:

Stakeholder groups
Employee Conduct

We require ongoing compliance with all laws and legal requirements relating to bribery, corruption, money laundering, fraud or similar activities. This includes our retail and business partners.

QIC staff are required to undertake training on anti-corruption policies and procedures, as part of the mandatory 'Anti-Bribery and Corruption' annual online training.

Modern Slavery

The Modern Slavery Act 2018 came into effect on 1 January 2019, placing a requirement on eligible entities to submit an annual Modern Slavery Statement. The Act seeks to actively reduce the risk of modern slavery occurring in Australia and across the globe.

As an Australian entity with an annual consolidated revenue of more than $100 million, QIC is required to report on the risk of modern slavery across its investment activities and portfolios, as well as through its operations and procurement supply chains. Pursuant to the Act, QIC has a standard modern slavery clause included in our contracts to manage potential modern slavery risk.

Reporting obligations under the Act relate to the steps taken to respond to the risk of modern slavery in our operations and supply chains, and those of controlled entities. In addition, as an investor we are required to report on the steps taken to identify and respond to the risk of modern slavery in our investment portfolios.

In FY21 we strengthened our approach to modern slavery by:

  1. Developing and publishing a Supplier Code of Conduct on our website
  2. Assessing our operations, supply chains and investment portfolios for exposure to modern slavery risk
  3. Incorporating modern slavery terms into existing supplier monitoring programs and our tender processes
  4. Continuing to incorporate modern slavery requirements into our supplier contracts
  5. Surveying high risk suppliers
  6. Developing a tool to assist QIC's investment teams to assess modern slavery risk as part of due diligence process
  7. Engaging at portfolio company level across with highest exposed asset classes
  8. All QIC staff completed mandatory firm-wide Modern Slavery Awareness training

Cleaning services have been identified as a potential area where modern slavery risk might occur, and as such QICGRE has been an active participant with the Cleaning Accountability Framework (CAF) since its inception in 2013, with representation since 2018 on both the former CAF Steering Committee and current representation on the CAF Modern Slavery working group.

Working with CAF, our collective aim is to standardise practices and uphold labour rights within the cleaning industry. CAF's work extends to a range of activities including supplying tools for tendering processes, as well as conducting assessments of cleaning supply chain practices and of cleaning companies' employment practices, including time and wage reviews and workplace health and safety standards to verify compliance with Australian employment and OH&S laws.

We have incorporated modern slavery questions into our standard tender processes so that modern slavery is a component of ESG which we evaluate, including during our Integrated Services Tender completed during the year which comprised the provision of cleaning services across our shopping centre portfolio.

In the coming year we propose to onboard our identified higher risk suppliers to the Property Council of Australia's supplier modern slavery platform which will enable closer monitoring of these suppliers' modern slavery practices and provide an avenue through which to engage consistently with property sector peers.

During the reporting period, QIC did not become aware of any actual or suspected incidences of modern slavery in its supply chains or operations.

For more on QIC's approach to Modern Slavery, see our Modern Slavery Statement.

ESG 2021