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Community investment

Our privilege as a real estate owner and manager is the role we play in serving our communities, and delivering for our clients. We seek to play a meaningful role in our communities through our community investment programs and other asset-based initiatives.

Community Investment Program

QIC Real Estate's Community Investment Program is focused on the flagship theme of physical health and wellbeing. This was chosen as the program’s strategic focus area following extensive evidence-based research that identified it as the most materially relevant need across many of the communities in which our assets are located. The program is based on the idea that by introducing consumers to healthy eating practices and exercise through in-centre activations, we might educate and change behaviours, potentially reducing the likelihood of members of our communities developing longer term chronic illnesses. 

The Wellness Hub Eastland- Cooking (51)

This theme also responds to growing consumer trends and preferences in this space by leveraging programs targeted at improving physical activity and diet to amplify customer experience to drive positive commercial results across our asset portfolio. Internal analysis completed in 2021 found that over a 10-year period, income across our portfolio from tenants with a balance towards healthy or health-related offerings has more than doubled.

Additionally, in 2022 QIC partnered with McCrindle Research to measure the influence that QIC Real Estate’s Consumer Megatrends are having on purchasing decisions today, and the implications for the retail landscape into the future. The first deep dive in this series explored the ‘Self-Improvement and Wellbeing’ megatrend. The survey of more than 4,500 shoppers1 confirmed QIC's observations that shopping centres play a vital role in the physical and mental wellbeing of local communities through the products and services they house, and the opportunities for social connection that they provide. The research confirmed that QIC customers are more likely to prefer engaging in self-improvement and wellbeing activities at a QIC centre compared to at home, and this was much stronger than the panel of Australian respondents.

Consumer Insights

These results reinforce our observations that physical wellbeing is an important priority for QIC shopping centre customers.

To deliver our Community Investment Program, QIC Real Estate entered into a joint partnership with Nutrition Australia and YMCA in early 2022. Nutrition Australia is Australia’s leading nutrition not-for-profit organisation, providing information, education and business-to-business consultation and advisory services to help those who use these services achieve improved health through good nutrition. YMCA is the largest global youth movement with a shared purpose of empowering young people. In Australia, YMCA provides a wide range of programs and services to people of all ages, including activities focused on increasing physical activity. 

QIC Real Estate co-designed a bespoke program with Nutrition Australia and YMCA to roll-out across our portfolio which delivers a range of activities designed to empower customers to make healthy lifestyle choices. The program was delivered at the following 16 assets in FY23:

Table 13: QIC Real Estate centres participating in the Wellness Hub program

QPF & QTCF QACPF QOF
 Queensland
Grand Central
Big Top Shopping Centre
54 Mary Street
Hyperdome Forest Lake Shopping Centre  
Robina Town Centre Kippa-ring Shopping Centre
 
 New South Wales
Castle Towers  Pittwater Place
 
Westpoint

 
 Victoria    
Eastland    
Epping    
Merrifield City
   
Watergardens    
Werribee
   
Woodgrove
   

 

Watergardens - Pilot Wellness Hub

The program included the below activations2:

  • Wellness Hub manned by Nutrition Australia and YMCA to answer customer questions on health and nutrition.
  • Free body composition scans by YMCA valued at $50, which are medical grade non-invasive scans that provide measurements of a person's body composition delivering over 40 unique health metrics in under 30 seconds. 
  • Free 1:1 sessions with a personal trainer from YMCA and a nutritionist from Nutrition Australia that included a body composition scan followed by guidance related to actions individual participants could take to support their physical health and wellbeing. These sessions were valued at $150. 
  • Smoothie bikes to encourage customers to increase their exercise and learn how to make a healthy smoothie. 
  • Healthy cooking demonstrations by Nutrition Australia. 
  • Shopping tours with Nutrition Australia which connected customers with local retailers at centres and educated consumers on health food selection. 
  • Yoga classes and mindfulness sessions by YMCA. 
  • Child nutrition information sessions for parents run by Nutrition Australia. 
  • Access for customers to sign up to a virtual healthy community hub valued at $90 per year which provides free healthy eating and physical activity resources run by YMCA. 

Table 14: Results of Wellness Hub program across all assets in FY23

Total number of assets where the program was activated 16
Total number of attendees across all assets 1,976
Total number of body scans across all assets 523
Total Virtual Y signups across all assets 453

 

A measurement framework for the program, based on a theory of change, has been developed with support from Deloitte to understand its success, identify any opportunities to improve activation design and ensure we continue to drive measurable positive impact aligned with the program’s objectives. Participant surveys revealed an overwhelmingly positive response towards the program, with strong support from customers for centres to continue doing more of these type of wellbeing initiatives in the future. Survey response results have been used to further enhance the rollout of the program for next year.

 

1 Methodology - QIC centres in-field 28 April 2022 to 16 May 2022; 2,423 completes across 9 QIC centres. Australians in-field 28 April 2022 to 3 May 2022; 2007 nationally representative sample. Source: QIC Real Estate, Knowledge, Insights and Research, October 2023.
2 Note not all centres implemented all of these activations.

FY23 community contributions

QIC Real Estate uses the Business for Societal Impact (B4SI) Framework3 to measure our community contributions. The B4SI Framework is a globally recognised best practice measurement standard that enables companies to understand the difference their contributions make to their business and society. FY23 was the third year QIC Real Estate has used the Business for Societal Impact (B4SI) Framework for our community investment reporting.

B4SI 2023

In FY23, QIC Real Estate contributed over $1.59 million to its communities, through a mix of cash, time, in-kind contributions, and management-related efforts across the portfolio to deliver community related initiatives.4 This 26% increase from FY22 is due in part to FY23 being the first year our new community investment program was implemented across the asset portfolio, as well as ongoing improvements in our reporting processes.

The majority of our in-kind contributions relate to the spaces we provide at our assets for community groups to undertake fundraising activities. Over the past year we have implemented a process to capture and report the funds raised by these groups which has enabled us to further understand the extent of our community contributions.

Figure 16: QIC Real Estate total community contributions FY21 to FY23

QIC Real Estate total community contributions FY21 to FY23

Contributions for the year were spread over a number of different organisations, supporting a variety of community focus areas locally at each asset. Community initiatives included the delivery of activations by Nutrition Australia and YMCA related to our portfolio-wide community investment program, in-centre fundraising activations, donations to local hospitals and schools, food drives, charity gift wrapping services, and gift card donations.

In FY23, the health category continued to be the largest contribution area across the portfolio, increasing to 47% compared to 32% in FY22. This is in line with our objective to grow the proportion of contributions in the health category over time to align with the focus theme of our community investment program - ‘physical health and wellbeing’, which has been identified as the most materially relevant need across many of the communities in which our assets are located

Figure 17: FY23 B4SI community focus areas5

FY23 B4SI community focus areas_2

Figure 18: FY21 B4SI community focus areas6

FY21 B4SI community focus areas

 

Figure 19: FY22 B4SI community focus areas7

FY22 B4SI community focus areas_2

 

 

3 QIC Real Estate is a member of B4SI and pays an annual fee. 
4 Community contributions for FY23 have been verified by B4SI.
5 'Other' includes community fundraising, sporting clubs, etc. 
6 'Other' includes community fundraising, sporting clubs, etc.
7 'Other' includes community fundraising, sporting clubs, etc.

Reconciliation Action Plan

QIC’s vision for reconciliation 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 support QIC’s Innovate RAP, QIC Real Estate developed an Indigenous Delivery Plan for FY23 outlining the key areas of focus where our property assets and teams can make a real and positive difference towards achieving our broader RAP deliverables. The QIC Real Estate Indigenous Delivery Plan FY23 includes all the focus areas of the QIC Innovate RAP, including community engagement and awareness, investment, procurement, employment, and governance and reporting. It also included annual objectives specific to the real estate asset portfolio. 

The plan is updated on an annual basis and acts as an important guide for centre teams in focusing their efforts on genuine initiatives that support reconciliation. Initiatives delivered during FY23 included:  

  • Strengthening connections with Traditional Owners and local Indigenous groups on the lands of our assets, forming genuine, long-term relationships and leveraging our shopping centres as places of welcome, cultural education and connection for the broader community. This includes building relationships with Traditional Owners and Indigenous Groups at centres where none formally existed. 
  • Recognising culturally significant days, including launching an Indigenous lapel pin during NAIDOC Week, which is being worn by our centre team members as a sign of welcome for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Read our case study here.
  • Development of QIC Real Estate's first Indigenous Design framework which is a practical guide to build culturally responsive processes to ensure that Indigenous design inputs are included in our development projects. The Indigenous Design framework is already in use on our projects and will be incorporated into the Real Estate Sustainable Design Brief during FY24. See Our Approach for more information.
  • Exceeding our FY23 Indigenous procurement spend growth target within the real estate business by 315%, increasing spend with Indigenous businesses from $270,000 in FY22 to over $1.1m in FY23. Real Estate accounted for 77% of QIC's total Indigenous procurement in FY23. 
  • Increasing Indigenous employment, including welcoming QIC's first Indigenous school-based trainee at Grand Central, QLD. 
  • Implementing Indigenous Community Champions in each centre who are passionate advocates in driving meaningful Indigenous activity for their centres, aligned with QIC Real Estate's Indigenous Delivery Plan.
  • Continuing to raise cultural awareness among centre employees through the provision of Indigenous cultural confidence training.

Figure 20: Cheryl Moggs OAM viewing her artwork, Yarning for One, on the digital screen at Grand Central 

IMG_4509

 

In recognition of National Reconciliation Week QIC Real Estate commissioned Indigenous artist, Cheryl Moggs OAM, to create an artwork embodying the concept of reconciliation. Entitled Yarning for One, the artwork encourages us all to ‘yarn together to create a new shared songline.

Figure 21: Mural at Canberra Centre by local Wiradjuri artist, Kristie Peters

CANBERRA CENTRE, NAIDOC WEEK, JULY 3

 

Figure 22: NAIDOC Week celebrations at Canberra Centre

CANBERRA CENTRE, NAIDOC WEEK, JULY 2

 

Diversity and Inclusion

QIC Real Estate places great importance on the community feeling welcome in our centres and assets. In FY23, QIC Real Estate launched our first Diversity and Inclusion three-year plan, which outlines the ways our property assets and teams can bring QIC's broader diversity, equity and inclusion strategy to life. The plan incorporates activities in relation to the focus areas of gender equity, LGBT+, accessibility, cultural and linguistic diversity (CALD), First Nations People, as well as Young Professionals and Community/Wellness.

Figure 23: Lunar New Year celebrations at Forest Lake Shopping Centre, QLD

Forest Lake Shopping Centre - Lunar New Year Lion Dance 2023

QIC Real Estate’s commitment to advocating for gender diversity led to the development of a dedicated Real Estate Gender Plan in 2021, which outlines our gender goals and the corresponding actions we are taking to increase female inclusion and representation across our business. QIC Real Estate is committed to creating a work environment where women to feel supported and succeed at all levels.  Regardless of seniority, all QIC Real Estate employees are empowered to drive for continuous positive change in the area of gender equality. QIC Real Estate has made strong progress in achieving gender balance, with 52% of our colleagues identifying as female and 48% as male as at 30 June 2023. However, we recognise that there is still more to do. We believe that continued progress in this area will contribute to stronger performance for our business and stronger investment performance for our clients. Further details on Real Estate’s Gender Plan can be found in Our People

QIC Real Estate is committed to promoting a safe, inclusive and welcoming environment for the LGBT+ Community at all of our centres. In FY23 we continued implementation of The Welcome Here Project across our centres nationally, with Welcome Here rainbow stickers displayed at entries to let everyone know that LGBT+ diversity is welcomed and celebrated within our centres.

Our centres also celebrated a number of significant days on the Diversity and Inclusion calendar including International Women’s Day, Wear It Purple Day, IDAHOBIT, NAIDOC Week, National Reconciliation Week, Diwali, Lunar New Year, Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, Harmony Week and many others.

Figure 24: Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr display at Epping, VIC 

Socialise Photo-2

 

Figure 25: Diwali celebrations at Werribee, VIC 

Diwali at Werribee
Protecting our communities

Due to an increase in self-harm attempts across Australian shopping centres in recent years, QIC Real Estate created Project Safe-Guard in FY22, a dedicated initiative that uses state-of-the-art camera analytics for early detection alerts of potential incidents of self-harm in our shopping centres, enabling security and first responders to intervene and support people experiencing distress.

The motion alert technology is a first in the shopping centre industry and is being implemented in high-risk areas within our centres to significantly improve our ability to respond swiftly to prevent potential incidents. When an alert is triggered, the image from the alerted camera immediately appears on the screen in front of the security guard in the control room, along with flashing red LED lighting and an alarm, to ensure alerts cannot be missed.

Figure 26Security Control Room with the alerted camera image thrown to the large smart wall. The caption under the image is identifying the area. The red light running above the smart wall blinks to make it almost impossible to miss an alert.

Project Safe-Guard

QIC Real Estate developed a self-harm audit tool with assistance from Lifeline, which is used in conjunction with centre employee knowledge and a review of the last two years of incidents at our centres to identify the high-risk areas for best placement of the motion alert technology within our centres.

Since inception, we have rolled Project Safe-Guard out across eight centres. Its implementation has already prevented a number of incidents across our portfolio. We are consistently enhancing the program, and in FY23 we worked with global camera company, Axis Communications, to improve the ability of the cameras to detect a person when only part of their body is visible. This is a major breakthrough, as previously the camera had to see the full legs of a person in order to be activated. All our Safe-Guard cameras will be updated with this latest firmware by mid-October 2023. During the reporting period, we have also increased the locations at each asset where Project Safe-Guard has been set up to include other potential high-risk areas.

Figure 27Trip-wire analytic is an immediate alert. This image is taken from a carpark ramp. Notice the arrows are pointing upward. This will only alert the control room if a person or vehicle is moving up to the rooftop and not down.

Project Safeguard 2

Axis Communications are our supplier provider for all CCTV cameras and devices used for Safe-Guard and general monitoring. All new cameras being installed as part of future roll outs are now PVC8-free. Indoor cameras launched in 2022 are BFR/CFR9-free with external cameras meeting this same standard by 2024.

QIC’s Deb Palmer was acknowledged for leadership and innovative work in creating Project Safe-Guard, receiving the prestigious Frank Lowy Fellowship in November 2022, and was the winner of global software company, Mileston’s Project of the Year award.

Figure 28: These images are showing that although most of the body is not seen by the camera, it is still identifying the image as a person. The yellow frame indicates that the camera is alerted and is counting down to alert activation, shown by the red bar underneath.

Project Safe-Guard 1 Project Safe-Guard 2

 

8 PVC is polyvinyl chloride. PVC can emit toxic substances and is harmful to both human health and the environment. It is also difficult to recycle. Axis 2022 Sustainability Report.
9 BFR is brominated flame retardants. CFR is chlorinated flame retardants. Both are hazardous substances that have been eliminated without compromising fire safety.

Engaging with our stakeholders

Understanding the needs, priorities, and interests of our stakeholders is central to everything we do. We undertake comprehensive stakeholder mapping and planning activities to ensure we develop and maintain sustainable relationships throughout the lifecycle of our assets.

Our major stakeholders and how we engage with them are outlined in the table below.

Table 15: QIC Real Estate stakeholders

Stakeholder group How we engage Key focus areas
Customers and local communities
  • eDMs and newsletters
  • Centre websites and social media pages
  • In-centre activations and other community engagement activities
  • Centre Management offices, Information and Customer Service desks
  • Community engagement activities throughout development projects
  • Monitoring and responding to customer enquiries and complaints
  • Educating and engaging our communities on physical health and wellbeing through our Community Investment Program, delivered in partnership with Nutrition Australia and YMCA
  • Supporting local community groups and causes through in-centre activations
  • Providing vibrant shopping destinations at the heart of the communities we serve
  • Delivering a tenant mix that meets the needs of our customers
Retailers
  • Engagement initially made through QIC Real Estate's Leasing team
  • Ongoing regular engagement undertaken by individual Centre Management teams
  • Retailer briefing sessions
  • One-on-one retailer meetings
  • Online tenant portal, Town Square
  • Maintaining positive tenant relationships with the aim of retaining quality retailers
  • Strong engagement with Centre Management teams
  • Providing access to marketing tools, in-centre activations, and other services to ensure retailer success
Employees
  • Quarterly Updates from QIC Real Estate's leadership team
  • CEO All Staff briefings
  • Lunch and learn sessions on a broad range of content from subject matter experts from across QIC. Topics include diversity and inclusion initiatives, cybersecurity, and team deep-dives
  • QIC Real Estate Senior Leadership Team offsites
  • QIC-wide Senior Leadership Team offsites
  • Regular employee engagement surveys to monitor progress against key organisational measures
  • Intranet updates
  • QIC-wide internal employee newsletters
  • Internal sponsorship and mentor programs
  • Fostering a positive and collaborative workplace culture
  • Providing ongoing learning and development opportunities
  • Enabling flexible and hybrid working, allowing our people to balance professional and personal priorities
  • Communicating with our people in a transparent and timely way 
Investors
  • Annual Unitholder Conference
  • Annual Report
  • Annual Real Estate ESG Report and QIC Sustainability Report
  • eDM investor communications
  • Investor meetings, committees, and advisory groups
  • Quarterly Fund Reports
  • Maintaining strong relationships with investors
  • Regularly and transparently communicating with investors to maintain a strong corporate reputation
  • Managing ESG-related risks and opportunities
Government
  • One-on-one meetings
  • Site visits
  • Invitations to participate in significant development project milestones (e.g. sod turns and topping out ceremonies)
  • Participation in Estimates hearings
  • Proactively engaging with the government representatives of the electorates that our assets are located
  • Collaborating with government to support local jobs and economic development
  • Providing a safe environment for those visiting and working at our assets

Industry groups
  • Participation in industry working groups and roundtables
  • Participation in annual sustainability building and fund level ratings
  • Attendance at industry events and conferences
  • Engaging on and responding to industry-wide issues (e.g. Modern Slavery risks)
  • Improving sustainability performance at our assets
  • Understanding the commercial implications of industry issues
Media
  • Producing media materials, including media releases, briefings, and social media content
  • Fostering collaborative relationships with media contacts at national, state, and local media outlets to disseminate stories about QIC Real Estate and the activities happening at our assets
Suppliers
  • Contractual agreements
  • Regular meetings to review progress against agreed deliverables
  • Annual supplier questionnaires
  • Ensuring suppliers are meeting their contractual requirements in the supply of goods and services to QIC Real Estate
  • Maintaining positive supplier relationships
Traditional Custodians and First Nations people
  • One-on-one meetings with our shopping centre teams
  • Participation in centre NAIDOC Week celebrations and other in-centre activities and celebrations
  • Procurement opportunities
  • Employment opportunities
  • Developing and maintaining long-term relationships with the Traditional Owners and local Indigenous groups on the lands where our assets are located
  • Increasing our spend with Indigenous-owned businesses
  • Increasing employment opportunities within QIC Real Estate for First Nations people
Tags
ESG 2023