Investing in our communities

We understand that our centres need strong communities in order to succeed. Our aim is to shape better communities by strategically supporting issues that impact both our centres and their local communities.

In FY16, we identified youth (aged 13-25) unemployment and disengagement as an important issue that impacts the communities in which we operate right across Australia, as well as the amenity and performance of our centres.

We also found this to be an issue which Vicinity can make a meaningful difference to through our day-to-day business activities.

In FY17, we established a targeted community investment program to collectively address this issue at a corporate level and at our centres.

The program is implemented through a national partnership with the Beacon Foundation and various local partnerships to address youth unemployment and disengagement specific issues within each catchment.

Partnership with Beacon Foundation

In FY17, Vicinity entered into a three-year partnership with the Beacon Foundation to help deliver our community investment program.

Beacon was selected through a competitive process, through which Vicinity sought a partner with a broad presence across Australia, specifically with programs in locations where we have centres, and a proven track record of creating a positive impact on the issue of youth unemployment and disengagement.

Beacon’s programs mobilise secondary schools, parents, businesses and communities to work together to support young people into employment by making school more industry-relevant.  Their philosophy aims to make school more engaging, so that students complete secondary school and set themselves

up for future success in securing long term meaningful employment.

Beacon primarily operates in disadvantaged communities and areas of high youth unemployment, where the risk and need are often the greatest. With programs at secondary schools in proximity to our network of centres, the partnership allows our corporate and centre staff to get involved in Beacon programs and inspire youth to successfully transition from school to employment.

Vicinity’s partnership with Beacon is focused around three main programs, as shown below: 

 

Local partnerships

Our community investment program is rolled out across the portfolio through the establishment and implementation of centre level community investment plans.  This enables the program to be delivered in a consistent manner across our portfolio, with built in flexibility to identify strategically relevant local partnerships through which to address catchment specific root causes of youth related issues, which can vary from centre to centre.

Vicinity’s Sustainability team conducts annual community workshops with centre teams across the country to provide support and guidance on the development and execution of these plans.  They are then included in our annual centre strategic asset planning process to ensure the initiatives identified to address disengaged and unemployed youth related issues form part of the centres’ overall operational strategy.

In FY18, 89% of our centres developed community investment plans.

Our community contribution

As key economic and community hubs, we leverage the unique position that our centres hold locally to support those in need.

Each of our centres maintains close connections with community groups to support Vicinity’s focus on addressing youth unemployment and disengagement in their local communities, as well as other issues that are relevant to their catchment. They organise and participate in local events, make financial contributions, provide in-kind goods, services and mall space for fundraising, and also leverage our consumers and retailers to make community initiatives more successful.  

In FY18, we continued to expand our support of programs that address youth unemployment and disengagement through our company-wide community investment program to achieve a collective, greater impact.

 

Vicinity's community contribution in FY18 ($)

1 – The total community investment spend in FY18 has been calculated using the London Benchmark Group (LBG) framework, and includes 50% of $1.6 million in operational spend made with social enterprises ($1.44 million) and indigenous businesses ($0.13 million). Our FY18 community spend excluding social enterprises and indigenous businesses is $2.2m.

We benchmark our community investment activities using the London Benchmarking Group (LBG) framework. Click here to view our LBG reports.

Case Study: Connecting unemployed youth with retailers

The retail sector is often an entry point for young people into the workforce. During the year, a number of our centres hosted successful job fairs to connect local youth with available roles at our retailers.

In September 2016, Northland Shopping Centre held its first jobs fair, which attracted nearly 500 potential job seekers, and where retailers collected more than 180 applications. While the event targeted youth employment, it also improved youth and broader community engagement with the centre.

Northland’s success inspired a number of other centres in our portfolio, including Mandurah Forum, Broadmeadows Central and Rockingham Centre to also plan and implement jobs fairs. 

Mandurah Forum, which recently completed a major redevelopment, organised jobs fairs in the lead up to the opening of each of its three stages, helping to connect over 45 retailers with nearly 2500 jobs seekers in the region. The centre was widely recognised by local groups and media for its contribution to reducing high unemployment rates experienced in the region through the jobs fairs. 

Northland further expanded the initiative in September 2017 by hosting an ‘Employment Week’ event. Partnering with the Northland Youth Centre, job skills workshops and seminars were held at Northland to prepare local job seekers before they connected with retailers at the two-day jobs fair. The Workshops focused on topics such as resume writing, interviewing techniques, job searching and personal branding. Over 1700 people from the local community participated in ‘Employment Week’, and connected with nearly 40 retailers at the centre.

 

Employment Week at Northland Shopping Centre, VIC

The jobs fair saw over 120 positions being advertised, with 30 attendees being hired by retailers. Northland is now planning it’s second employment week, which will take place in August-September 2018. Similarly, Vicinity’s Broadmeadows Central and Colonnades centres also held their first jobs fairs in October 2017, which connected hundreds of local youth with retailers, as well as other local businesses, community groups and recruiters offering employment, training and learning programs.

In recognition of their success, in FY19 Vicinity is developing a national jobs fairs program to further leverage this great initiative and establish a consistent approach.  The program will be piloted at a number of centres during August and September 2018, with a view to rolling out at more centres across our portfolio in future years.

Case study: Light the Way fundraising initiative

Through Light the Way fundraising initiative, we raised over $43,000 for Beacon Foundation.

In May 2018, our entire company came together as part of an inaugural initiative, Light the Way, to raise funds for Beacon Foundation, our corporate community partner, and increase awareness of our work to alleviate youth disengagement and unemployment through our partnership.

The initiative saw all six corporate offices and 66 of our centres participating to deliver a range of activities to raise funds for and awareness of our partnership with Beacon.

Centre level activities covered a range of consumer and retailer facing initiatives such as food fundraisers including, barbeques and bake sales, gold coin donations, raffles, silent auctions, carnivals and kids activities, and selling Light the Way branded reusable shopping bags.

At our corporate offices we held a raffle for Vicinity team members and various gold coin donation activities. The Loop Café at our Chadstone National Office also participated in the initiative by donating a percentage of proceeds from sales towards the campaign for a week. 

Owing to the generosity of our retailers, consumers and our people, we raised over $43,000 for Beacon.

For a first-time attempt, we are extremely proud of this achievement, and pleased to note that our funding will help Beacon continue to grow the reach of their programs for additional 330 young people in some of our most disadvantaged communities. 

Case Study: Youth Entrepreneurial Services (YES) ‘pop-up shop’ at Northgate

In June 2017, Vicinity’s Northgate Shopping Centre in Tasmania hosted the launch of Youth Entrepreneurial Services (YES) Shop –an outlet located in the centre where young people at risk of long term unemployment could sell their own designed and hand crafted products.

YES is an initiative of Impact Communities, which offers young people between the ages of 15-24 years at risk of long term unemployment an opportunity to gain work experience and progress into work, self-employment, or further education.

YES Pop-up shop at Northgate Shopping Centre (TAS)

Since the launch of the YES Shop, volunteers and staff have developed and grown the YES social enterprise to be a place where young people can get hands on experience in all aspects of business. It provides opportunity for those interested in becoming entrepreneurs and building a career in retail to refine their skills, showcase their products to potential employers and gain practical experience in business management.

Participants have the opportunity to design and create a range of handmade products, including jewellery, soy candles, soap and timber chopping boards, and also work behind the scenes in website development, branding, administration and sales. YES has been represented in local markets and also has an online store at www.yestas.com.au.

Since its launch, the social enterprise has seen nearly 140 young people participate in the initiative, with many moving into paid work, further education, or starting their own businesses developing different types of products.

YES continues to receive the generous support of volunteers and business coaches, including Vicinity employees, who have mentored participants to practice and refine their skills in creating quality products for sale. 

For further information about the YES Programme please visit www.impactcommunities.org.au

Case Study: Youth week at Gympie

In January 2018, Vicinity’s Gympie Central worked with our corporate community partner Beacon Foundation to hold a ‘Youth Week’ event as part of the centre’s community investment plan.

Over two days, the centre team held a number of workshops targeting disadvantaged and disengaged youth in the local area. The first day of workshops included a ‘Girls Day In’ event, focused on girls’ empowerment, mentoring, presentation skills and beauty workshops. The High Impact Program, delivered in partnership with Beacon on the second day, focused on job readiness, transitioning from school life into employment and provided participating youth the opportunity to meet with centre retailers. Post the workshops, after parties were held at the centre to celebrate ‘Youth Week’.

The workshops were a remarkable success, with over 30 young people participating.  Of note, the event resulted in three participants who had previously dropped out of school enrolling back into school and three others being selected for a work experience program offered by the centre’s retailers. The centre team also facilitated a meeting between the local Gympie High school principal and Beacon Foundation to discuss the establishment of further programs in Gympie.

Gympie Central Shopping Centre, QLD

The centre team also facilitated a meeting between the local Gympie High school principal and Beacon Foundation to discuss the establishment of further programs in Gympie.

This event is a great example of how our centres are using the unique position they hold within the local community to make a lasting impact on the lives of youth who are disadvantaged and disengaged in our communities.

Case Study: Bayside youth celebrations

During Youth Week in April 2018, Vicinity’s Bayside Shopping Centre organised a ‘Youth Celebrations at Bayside’ event to engage unemployed and disadvantaged young people in the local community.

The event aimed to provide targeted young people with opportunities to showcase their skills, learn about new skills and support services available through local organisations, as well as empower and provide them a platform to express themselves. It also aimed to prevent antisocial behaviour in public spaces such as shopping centres through positive youth engagement activities.

Throughout the week, the centre brought together over 200 youth and ten partner organisations to hold a range of engagement activities including gaming and sports competitions, live music and drumming workshops, street art competitions, as well as employment and training workshops and showcasing of local job opportunities.

The event helped strengthen the centre’s relationship with local community partners, including Frankston City Council Youth Services, Victoria Police, Brotherhood of St Laurence, Frankston Youth Central, TaskForce, Chisolm Institute, the

Youth celebrations at Bayside Shopping Centre, VIC

Responding to Alcohol and other Drugs in Frankston and Mornington Peninsula (RAD-FMP) project as well as several of its retailers.

Since the event, the centre has observed a noticeable decline in incidents of antisocial behaviour by young people, demonstrating that enabling youth to connect with the centre in a positive way has helped to create a sense of connection with and ownership of the centre.