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2020 ESG report: Our community

We respect the fundamental rights of all people to live and work in environments that foster ingenuity, accord and vitality.

Our Environmental, Sustainability and Governance (ESG) and Corporate Social Investment (CSI) strategies guide the way we engage with our communities.

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 community initiatives we've delivered, visit the Case Studies section of this report.

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.

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 1 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 (for more, see our case study).

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.

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.

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.

Under the requirements of the Act, we will publish a Modern Slavery Statement on an annual basis describing QIC's approach to identifying and addressing the risks of modern slavery across our operations, supply chains and investment portfolios. Further information will be available in QIC's Modern Slavery Statement, due by 31 March 2021.

In the retail sector, the cleaning industry is considered one of the highest-risk areas and has been an area of focus for QICGRE. QIC has been an active participant with the Cleaning Accountability Framework (CAF) since its inception in 2013. QIC has representation on both the CAF Steering Committee and the CAF Standards Sub-Committee, and Castle Towers Shopping Centre in Sydney was one of the first retail assets to complete the CAF Pilot program.

Working with CAF, the 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 for business, face-to-face meetings undertaken by independent CAF representatives with all cleaning staff, and coordinating third-party audits of assets as well as cleaning companies including requesting full pay slips, ensuring maximum transparency.

We note that no operations have been subject to human rights reviews or assessments in FY20.

For more on QIC's approach to Modern Slavery, see the 2020 QIC Sustainability Report.

A Town Centre Strategy for our Local Communities

We are evolving shopping centres into culturally relevant, ever-evolving community hubs. The core objective of this strategy is to create places that evoke a town centre feel and encourage meaningful experiences that meet diverse needs, both now and in the years to come.

We recognise that the needs of those visiting our centres have changed in response to a multitude of macro forces, with locals now demanding more convenience, diversity, and depth of experience from the assets we hold. By evolving our centres to ensure they remain highly relevant and valued destinations for our local communities, we are ensuring long-term sustainable returns for our investors.

We are extending our thinking in place creation to consider our assets more as multi-purpose destinations that serve the whole of life needs (health and wellbeing betterment, learning and education, entertainment and leisure) of the communities in which we operate. This approach will manifest itself in different ways because for our assets to remain compelling and engaging they must be reflective of the unique values, attitudes and aspirations of our local communities.

Our Approach to Placemaking

Our Approach to Placemaking

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: town hall-style retailer briefings, briefings with local Council, other local government representatives and local media, setup of a community project information phone line, 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
Supply Chain, Human Rights and Labour Practices

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.

In FY20, QIC updated and refreshed online training to ensure that our employees maintain engagement on the learning modules, including on Anti-Bribery and Corruption and Conduct, Culture and Ethics.

QIC is also working to develop a modern slavery learning module to be launched in FY21 in support of our actions to address modern slavery and train employees on identifying and reporting potential instances of modern slavery.

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ESG 2020