The scale and magnitude of the ‘Black Summer’ bushfire crisis across Australia was unprecedented. The fires that caused such widespread devastation impacted a number of Stockland’s retail town centres and retirement living villages across NSW, Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. In line with our values and our desire to create thriving communities, Stockland employees were quick to respond to help those in need.
We pledged a cash contribution of $500,000 to support the long-term rebuilding and resilience of communities, which will be shared between the Foundation for Regional and Rural Renewal (FRRR), Foodbank Australia, Good360, the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife, the Business Council of Australia (Community Rebuilding Trust) and the NSW Farmers Association. These organisations were chosen due to their dual focus on immediate disaster relief programs and ongoing rebuilding efforts, and their ability to fund programs that will directly benefit bushfire-impacted communities. We also donated $20,000 to the NSW Rural Fire Service and QLD Rural Fire Brigade to support the relief efforts before Christmas 2019 and $35,000 to the FRRR for its ongoing drought relief program, and Stockland employees raised over $14,500 before matching through our workplace giving program.
In addition to cash donations, our employees reached out to offer whatever practical support was needed in their local communities, and our retail town centres provided much-needed resources and support for local fire-fighting teams.
Stockland Nowra stayed open to assist travelers and local Shoalhaven customers who were trapped because of road closures. On New Year’s Eve over 40 people sought refuge from the fires, including local resident Perry Tsang and his family who later posted a thank you to the Nowra centre management team on Facebook: “Penelope and her team of security guards kept the doors open for us, lifted and shifted centre couches around, and even came around with supplies of water/fruit/snacks. We are truly thankful for the goodness in humanity during the crisis,” he said.
Stockland Rockhampton partnered with Anaconda to provide six marquees to be used as temporary fire stations for volunteer rural fire-fighters, while the centre management team collected snack pack items from local retailers for fire-fighting crews working 18-20 hour shifts. Elysia Billingham, Centre Manager, said she was “extremely proud to be able to support our community during this emergency” and that her team will continue to do so “whenever the Rockhampton community need us most.”
Stockland Forster made a vacant shop available for the Lions Club to promote donations and food drop-offs for drought-affected farmers and bushfire victims. Along with non-perishable food, over $2,500 was donated by the local community.
We also witnessed village residents supporting their local communities through fundraising. When residents from our Greenleaves retirement village (Qld) heard that the local Ramsay Pharmacy was raising money for The Rescue Collective, they decided to join the cause. The village held a fundraising dinner with the local community generously donating a variety of goods and services to be auctioned. A total of $2,200 was raised on the night to buy medical supplies for wildlife injured in the bushfires. Other retirement villages raised funds to support their local RFS and community groups, with residents from our Lourdes village (NSW) raising over $5,000 and Selandra Rise (Vic) residents raising over $6,000.
Our Golden Ponds retirement village (NSW) made a rather memorable contribution to fire-fighting efforts. With so much water needed to fight the fires around Foster, Anne Bowd, Administration Manager from Golden Ponds, said she was delighted to see the RFS helicopter filling up using water from our ponds.