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.

This year, 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

This year, 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.

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. 

Our partnership framework with Beacon identifies both community and business outcomes that we want to achieve through our mutual partnership.

 

Local partnerships

Many of our centres have developed community investment plans, enabling them to strategically identify relevant local partners and implement initiatives that address the root causes of youth related issues experienced within each catchment. These plans have been integrated into each centre’s strategic asset plans to ensure the initiatives identified to address disengaged and unemployed youth related issues form part of the centres’ overall operational strategy.  

In FY17, Vicinity ran an internal grants program where $100,000 in funds were distributed to 18 of our centres who submitted the strongest proposals to form local partnerships to tackle youth unemployment and disengagement in their respective communities.

Our community contribution

As key local economic and social hubs, we leverage the unique position that our centres hold in communities 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, and also 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.   

Our focus in FY18 is to continue to expand our support of programs that address youth unemployment and disengagement.  We will do this through our company-wide community investment program to achieve a collective, greater impact.

 

Vicinity's community contribution in FY17 ($)

 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, two of our centres – Northland Shopping Centre and Mandurah Forum – hosted successful job fairs to connect local youth with available roles at our retailers.

In September 2016, Northland held its first jobs fair, which attracted approximately 500 potential job seekers. Retailers collected more than 180 applications. While the event targeted youth employment, it also improved youth engagement with the centre.

The centre expanded the initiative in September 2017 by hosting an Employment Week. Partnering with the Northland Youth Centre, job skills workshops and seminars were held at the centre to prepare local job seekers before they connected with retailers at two-day jobs fair. The Workshops focused topics such as resume building, interviewing techniques, job searching and personal branding.

Over 1700 people from the local community participated in the Employment Week, connecting with nearly 40 retailers at Northland. The jobs fair saw over 120 positions being advertised, with 30 attendees being hired by retailers.

In June 2017, Mandurah Forum – in the lead up to the opening of a major redevelopment – also held a jobs fair.

Mandurah’s centre management team facilitated the jobs fair, which connected around 15 businesses with over 1,000 job seekers, who applied for over 100 positions in stores opening

Employement Week at Northland Shopping Centre, VIC

following the centre’s redevelopment. The centre promoted the jobs fair through a broad advertising campaign with local schools and tertiary institutions, local government and community bodies, as well as a range of media outlets, social media channels, local newspapers and radio.

Due to the success of these job fairs, along with Vicinity’s focus on alleviating youth unemployment and disengagement in our communities, more of our centres plan on hosting job fairs in FY18.

Case study: BikeRescue program at Rockingham

BikeRescue program at Rockingham Centre

Between June to July 2017, our centre at Rockingham partnered with Headspace and Dismantle to run a 10-week award winning program called BikeRescue.

BikeRescue is an accredited program that uses bike repair/refurbishment as a vehicle for youth outreach, engagement and mentoring.

The project at the centre was funded through an internal grant provided to Rockingham to form local partnerships to tackle youth unemployment and disengagement in its community.

Every Wednesday afternoon, ten young apprentices stripped and rebuilt two recycled bikes each – one is restored and donated to charity, the other restored by the apprentices and ‘earned’ to keep.

Dismantle provided the coaches and tools and Rockingham provided the funds and space to run the program.

The dynamic workshop environment and kinaesthetic tasks provided a unique experience to the young workers, teachers and counsellors. With music pumping, tools clicking and wheels spinning, the atmosphere at the workshop was plenty of fun, while also teaching valuable life skills to the participants. 

Through our new association with Headspace and Dismantle, we can better engage with disadvantaged youth in our catchment and slowly increase their ownership of the centre.
Leanne Smith, Centre Manager Rockingham Centre

Case study: Creating Change

In May 2017, Vicinity’s Bayside Shopping Centre ran a community fundraising campaign named Creating Change to raise awareness of the prevalent issue of homelessness in the suburb of Frankston, Victoria.

Recognising our role at the heart of the community, the centre saw the opportunity to lead the conversation on homelessness and raise awareness and funds to assist locals experiencing homelessness.  

The campaign supported Community Support Frankston (CSF), a charity that works to address homelessness in Frankston. CSF has a number of programs supporting homeless youth – which aligns with Vicinity’s community investment program focus, as homelessness is a major barrier to gainful employment.

For three weeks in May 2017, the Creating Change campaign raised funds for CSF, for which the centre team called on the support of local schools, businesses, consumers, centre retailers and suppliers, as well as Vicinity employees.

A number of in-centre activations, such as the Creating Change Thought Pods, enabled the local community to listen to stories of locals experiencing homelessness and be part of the conversation. 

Centre retailers and suppliers supported the campaign in a number of ways. Hoyts Cinemas at Bayside dedicated a 170 seat cinema screening to the campaign, with all ticket sales donated to the cause.

 

Creating Change thought pods at Bayside Shopping Centre

The centre also hosted a fundraising luncheon at the McClelland Sculpture Park Gallery in Frankston bringing together influential local stakeholders, including the Frankston Mayor and local council. 

Through the combined generosity of our community of stakeholders the campaign raised over $28,500 for CSF, including a donation from Vicinity through our internal grants program.