In FY22, we established a Corporate Philanthropy Committee to strengthen the governance of this strategy and ensure we are maximising the benefits of our charitable partnerships.
In our 2021 Sustainability Report, Downer committed to expanding the reach of our corporate philanthropy program.
We committed to launching a workplace giving program, as well as identifying a not-for-profit Indigenous organisation to support, both financially as well as via the capabilities and expertise of our people.
In FY22, Downer launched our workplace giving program, and started a new partnership with Mental Health Foundation New Zealand. In addition to our commitment to support Indigenous suppliers and offer tailored employment programs for Indigenous people, we also commenced two new community partnerships with Indigenous organisations, Stars Foundation and NRL Cowboys House.
In December 2021, Downer achieved a significant milestone on our philanthropic journey, launching our first workplace giving program. Downer worked closely with Workplace Giving Australia to develop and launch the program, which allows our people to donate money from their pre-tax pay to support our four strategically-selected charities and help millions of Australians.
Downer will also match our employees’ initial donations up to $250,000.
The four charity partners align with our Purpose, Pillars and strategy, and are causes that are important to our people.
We conducted a survey to understand the types of causes our workforce is interested in and cares about. The results of that survey were considered when selecting our four charity partners:
All money raised from the workplace giving program will be dispersed evenly to these four charities. In addition to our people donating money, we are also volunteering our time to the four charity partners.
In May, a group of Downer employees took part in Greening Australia’s tree planting program in western Sydney, helping to plant more than 1,500 native trees. In July, another Downer group took part in a tree planting event in Melbourne.
As our relationships grow with all four charity partners, our people will be given more opportunities to take part in volunteering events to support our partners.
In October 2021, Downer announced an expanded partnership with Stars Foundation. Stars Foundation provides a holistic program that supports Indigenous girls and young women to attend and remain engaged at school, complete Year 12, and move into full-time work or further study. The Stars program is based on strong, trusting relationships – which aligns with Downer’s values. The Stars Room provides a culturally safe and warm environment – a place where the students feel nurtured and inspired.
Downer also announced a new partnership with Cowboys House in October 2021. Cowboys House provides supported accommodation for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from some of North Queensland’s most remote and educationally disadvantaged communities, enabling them to access quality secondary education opportunities in Townsville. The facility is managed by the Cowboys Community Foundation, the charity arm of the North Queensland Cowboys National Rugby League club.
In addition to providing financial support to assist Stars Foundation and Cowboys House, we are also supporting both organisations with structured employment pathways for some of the young people they support.
Downer is committed to being an organisation that demonstrates leadership and respects Indigenous communities right across Australia, and these two partnerships will ensure we continue to make a difference to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the communities we operate in.
Downer has been a proud supporter of the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation’s Wall of Hands Appeal since 2013. The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation works with Indigenous communities and schools around Australia with the aim that five out of five kids will learn to read – the vital first step to a satisfying and successful life. The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation is the first national charity dedicated to raising language, literacy and numeracy standards in Australia. Closing the Indigenous literacy gap is a serious, long-term issue and Downer is a proud supporter of this very worthy cause.
In May 2022, we renewed our successful partnership with Beyond Blue, to continue supporting the mental health of people in Australia. The extension will see Downer continue to be a Major Partner of Beyond Blue, and we will again be the Matched Giving Partner for Beyond Blue’s 2022 fundraising campaign. This means that Downer will match all donations given to Beyond Blue through its campaign up to a total of $250,000. Thanks to Downer’s support in 2021, Beyond Blue’s campaign raised a record $1,056,976, which funded 22,000 calls, web chats and emails to the Beyond Blue Support Service.
In February 2022, Downer announced a new three-year partnership with the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand. The goal of the partnership is to not only support the mental health and wellbeing of Downer employees, but to also enable the Mental Health Foundation to do more of its great work and reach out to more people. Guided by the Māori concept of te whare tapa whā, which describes wellbeing as including physical, mental, spiritual and family health, we have implemented a range of initiatives in New Zealand to change the conversation around mental health and support our people and their whānau. We look forward to expanding our existing mental health programs and awareness activities with tailored support from the Mental Health Foundation. This partnership will benefit our 9,000 plus employees in New Zealand, as well as the broader community.
Downer is proud to be a Founding Member of Australian Veterans Employers Coalition, which connects transitioning service members, job-seeking veterans and their partners with Australia’s largest employers. Australian Veterans Employers Coalition was founded in 2017 by six leading Australian organisations, who recognised their collective strength in offering a wide variety of opportunities, across numerous skill levels in almost all sectors and industries. Downer employs hundreds of veterans in the Downer Defence business and across the Downer Group. As a Steering Committee member, we actively drive the ongoing development of Australian Veterans Employers Coalition to promote awareness for sustainable engagement and improved employment outcomes for veterans.