What are material issues?

Downer seeks to identify the issues where we have the most significant impacts* (‘Importance for Downer’ in the materiality matrix); and which matter most to our stakeholders and can therefore most influence their assessments and decisions (‘Importance for stakeholders’ in the materiality matrix). These issues have the most influence over the value that Downer creates for shareholders, and other key stakeholders, now and into the future. 

We refer to these as our material issues. In 2021, Downer revisited our materiality assessment in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards. Materiality Counts, an independent expert, led a process to engage selected internal and external stakeholders to identify and understand our material economic, social, environmental and governance risks and opportunities.

*‘Impacts’ can refer to environmental, social and economic impacts, which can be positive, negative, actual, potential, direct, indirect, short-term, long-term, intended or unintended.

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Why we do this

Reporting on the issues that Downer has the most significant impact on, and which matter most to our stakeholders, ensures this report is directly relevant to our target audiences. Material issues are also a valuable input to our strategic planning. Downer recognises these issues may change over time, reflecting changes in our business and external operating environment and the expectations of stakeholders. 

We use the results of the materiality assessment to inform our business strategy and our sustainability framework and targets. 

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Our materiality process

The independent process consisted of the following steps. 

Step 1 – Identify potential material issues

A list of potential material issues, alongside short explanations, was compiled using a comprehensive range of inputs including material risks, media scanning, stakeholder feedback, employee surveys, peer review, industry trends and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Downer’s 2019 material issues list was reviewed considering changes to our business structure and investor base, as well as COVID-19 impacts, and taking into account risk and peer reports. This resulted in a consolidated list of 19 potential issues for review and discussion by stakeholders.

Step 2 – Materiality survey

A representative sample of stakeholders was identified for consultation. This included internal stakeholders – namely Board members, Executives and key employees – as well as external stakeholders including investors, customers, suppliers, industry associations and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), ensuring geographic spread across Australia and New Zealand. All stakeholders completed a survey, providing quantitative data on the relative priority of the issues.

Step 3 – Stakeholder interviews

One-on-one telephone interviews were conducted with selected internal and external stakeholders, which provided qualitative information to increase our understanding of the current and future context of each issue, including the potential for it to impact our value creation over time.

Step 4 – Validation of the results

The validation of results by Downer’s Executives and Board is an important part of the process. The qualitative and quantitative results and stakeholder feedback were presented to Downer’s Executive Strategic Committee, where it was decided to elevate the priority ranking of Economic Performance from ninth to third, due to the business impact and importance placed on Economic Performance by both internal stakeholders and investors.

The 13 material issues and revised rankings were endorsed by the Zero Harm Board Committee.

The material issues listed below framed the structure and content of this Sustainability Report.

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Materiality results

Stakeholders prioritised the issues based on their importance and significance of Downer’s impacts. This provided a list of the top 13 issues which Downer deems to be its material issues. The remaining six issues, which remain important to Downer and will continue to be addressed, are referred to as important issues. 

The materiality results are shown in the matrix and further explained in order of priority below. 

The results were positive, with strong alignment between internal and external stakeholder views, as demonstrated in the spider diagram. 

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