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Two recent office developments provided an opportunity to offer meaningful employment and a sense of social inclusion to local people from disadvantaged groups, while also helping to address skills shortages in the construction industry.
We are committed to increasing the strength of local communities. In our capacity as a commercial property owner and developer, that means getting to know the local community, and engaging various stakeholders to uncover how we can add value in our communities.
Our partnership in 2017 with Uniting Church – at Wesley Place, 130 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, was the first initiative where we combined a new development with a focus on local job creation.
In FY18/FY19, this initiative expanded into our GPO Exchange, Adelaide, development. The success of the project is directly attributed to partnerships with our contractors Lendlease and Built, and registered training providers Wesley Employment Services, MEGT and Workskill Australia.
The projects aim to maximise our social impact by providing entry opportunities for unemployed people, including by offering pre-employment training in a Certificate of Construction, alongside site and contractor engagement.
Our contractors assist with the training requirements to ensure they meet safety and site criteria as well as the skills needed for safe construction on site. Participants in the projects to-date include women, indigenous Australians, refugees, long-term unemployed and the homeless.
Of the 23 people who completed pre- employment training for Wesley Place, 81% of participants in the program have continued working, with over half in construction, while one participant commenced a university degree. For the GPO Exchange project, seven people completed the training and six were later determined to be sustainably employed.
Both Lendlease and Built employed a trainee from the program. Heritage Stone Restoration (HSR), a subcontractor at Wesley Place and the GPO Exchange, engaged trainees from both the Melbourne and Adelaide projects.
One of these trainees was refugee Minh Huynh. After being born in a refugee camp in Cambodia, Minh and his family risked their lives multiple times in search of a better life. Some three decades later, Minh was again seeking a change for the better. With the support of Wesley Employment Services, he was placed on a Charter Hall local employment project for Wesley Place. Through the project, he received his Certificate I in Construction, gained valuable job experience, and secured an apprenticeship with HSR.
“These programs are about providing a direct and positive impact in the community and working with our contractors and subcontractors to produce a genuine outcome” said George Roussos, Senior Development Manager.
While the program is still in its infancy, the potential impact on participants such as Minh can be profound. For many experiencing disadvantage, a stable job is the start of a brighter future. As we continue to deliver world-class developments across the country, these projects are one way we can meaningfully contribute to the strength of local communities and to people’s lives.