World-leading approach to WELL-being in our town centres

28 March 2023
In 2023, Australians have returned to in-person shopping and are spending more time in communal retail environments. But shoppers are still expecting a high level of health and safety measures.


How are retailers delivering a safe, healthy and frictionless shopping experience, while also balancing consumers’ desire for social interaction? One answer is the WELL Health-Safety Rating an initiative of the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI).

A WELL seal of approval on a shopping centre is a big tick of confidence for customers visiting the centre and people working within them that they are in an environment that promotes their health and wellbeing.

We spoke with Jack Noonan, vice president of IWBI APAC about how the WELL rating is giving retailers the confidence to weather the unexpected and how Stockland’s world-leading approach to wellbeing is helping to build customer loyalty.

Jack says that while health-based interventions were on the increase prior to the pandemic, there is now more focus on community resilience and providing spaces for everyone in the community.

“This is often beyond a ‘shopping experience’. When the temperature outside exceeds 35 degrees, many people use shopping centres as places of refuge or comfort. And shopping centres are also places for restoration and community connection. Shopping centres are emerging as key pillars for driving better social outcomes.”

With the emphasis on the shopping centre as a communal space that surprises and delights, Jack explains that shoppers also expect an experience that instils confidence and ensures they feel comfortable spending more time there, time spent doing more than just shopping.

“If a shopping centre is recognised as prioritising health and safety, people feel safer working, shopping and spending time there. The health and wellbeing impact through a shopping centre’s achievement of the WELL Health-Safety Rating is far reaching.

“The WELL seal on a shopping centre is a visible indication of confidence for both employees and visitors, communicating to everyone entering the space that the centre’s health and safety efforts are backed by science and validated by a third party.”

“In other words, the WELL seal outside means you can feel safer inside, which ultimately heightens the experience of working and doing life in these spaces knowing that your health and safety has been prioritised,” says Jack.


Dive into the details


The WELL rating measures six areas of health and safety:

  • Keeping places clean and sanitised

  • Preparing for an emergency

  • Providing essential health benefits and services

  • Assessing air and water quality

  • Communicating health and safety efforts

  • Innovation

Jack says WELL strategies include creating a re-entry plan after an emergency event that addresses maintenance and sanitisation protocols, stakeholder engagement, access to personal protective equipment (PPE), dedensification (including phased re-entry), ongoing communication and training methods, and the continuous evaluation of health and safety protocols.

Businesses can also consider what kind of support they will offer in response to an emergency, such as “necessary resources, personnel and training, as well as supporting the health and wellbeing of occupants during and after emergencies through education, emergency assistance funds and designated emergency spaces”.



Shaping change in the retail sector

As the retail sector figures out how to meet consumer needs and be better corporate citizens, Jack says many retailers are looking at what they can do next to lead wellbeing, health and safety.

“Healthy places are no longer a nice to have, but a must have. Asking occupants what they think of their spaces, measuring indoor air quality, making improvements to spaces over time and looking at how our spaces can drive behaviour change. It all sounds obvious and easy to implement however, this is not yet the norm across industries, and it needs to be.”

Stockland was the first Australian property group to achieve a WELL Health-Safety Rrating in the retail sector, obtaining a rating for seven of its centres – Hervey Bay, Birtinya, and Baringa in Queensland; Forster and, Balgowlah in New South Wales; Wendouree in Victoria; and Baldivis in Western Australia.

“With people at the heart of the places it creates, Stockland leads by example in delivering connected communities and prioritising the health and safety of shoppers, retail staff and customers,” says Jack.

Some of the strategies Stockland implemented are visible – such as keeping spaces clean and sanitised – while others less so, including having best practice emergency procedures in place and ensuring high quality clean air and water supplied within our buildings.

The certification of our centres with the WELL rating has the power to help people thrive, and aligns with our core values and purpose, 'we believe there is a better way to live'.

For more information about the International WELL Building Institute (WIBI) visit

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