Sustainability Report 2010
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Communities in Crisis

Case Study - New Zealand and Around the World

Communities in Crisis

The support team at Westfield Riccarton in New ZealandThe support team at Westfield Riccarton in New Zealand

Westfield’s Disaster Response Capabilities

In a crisis situation the priority is always to ensure the safety of the people inside a centre -if it has been directly affected. Once the safety of people has been assured, the next step is to help retailers get back to trading, and to resume business as usual as quickly as possible. Finally – and depending on the scale of a tragedy or disaster – Westfield then makes its centres available as a rallying point for the community, whether to raise funds, find information or serve some other purpose to meet a community’s specific needs.

In late 2010 and again early 2011 the city of Christchurch in New Zealand was devastated by major earthquakes which, in the second instance, brought widespread damage to the city. The Group’s centre in the area, Westfield Riccarton, suffered some damage but it was safely evacuated. Once the centre was deemed structurally safe following engineering and life safety inspections, Westfield Riccarton progressively reopened for trade in less than a week after the earthquake. 

The Group worked with the local community to provide support in a variety of ways: all centres throughout the country became fundraising locations for the New Zealand Red Cross Christchurch Earthquake Appeal and the Riccarton centre also served as an information point for various agencies seeking to communicate with the public. 

While the Westfield Riccarton team continued to work so that the centre could return to normal business, Westfield management from the rest of New Zealand worked closely with many individuals and families in the local community to provide support in a number of ways. 

In Australia, Brisbane suffered significant floods in December 2010 and January 2011. The Group’s six centres in Brisbane did not suffer significant damage, and while there was some disruption to trade, ‘business as usual’ resumed due to the combined efforts of Westfield staff and retailers. 

As in New Zealand, the centres closest to the disaster area very quickly became a focal point for the community to donate to the Premier’s Disaster Relief Fund and other community groups. The Group also made a substantial donation to the cause to support the broader Brisbane community. 

Planning for natural disasters is an important part of Westfield’s risk management approach. This involves being ready to respond during the crisis, to restore safety and stability to the affected area, and then help retailers return to business as usual as quickly as possible.