Given the breadth of our businesses, we have an interest in supporting strong and vibrant communities.
We do this through the products we sell and the jobs we provide, as well as through our direct and indirect contributions to the community.
Wesfarmers makes a significant contribution to the communities in which it operates by providing goods and services that have an impact on the quality of life of all our customers and by providing a large number of jobs and paying taxes.
Wesfarmers and its divisions contribute to the strength and vibrancy of the communities in which they operate by assisting a range of community organisations. Each division finds ways to create value for the community that best fits with its core business and geographic spread. At a Group level, through its community partnerships program, Wesfarmers supports medical research, organisations targeting Indigenous disadvantage, education and community initiatives, in addition to the Wesfarmers Arts program.
This year, our direct and indirect community partnerships and contributions were $94.9 million. Our direct community contributions of $51.2 million equated to 1.4 per cent of earnings before interest and tax and 2.3 per cent of net profit after tax. Our total direct community contributions this year increased 61 per cent on last year, largely due to Coles’ increased contributions to SecondBite, its new partnership with Redkite and the establishment of the Wesfarmers Chair of Australian History at the University of Western Australia.
Wesfarmers is a member of the London Benchmarking Group (LBG) and uses its methodology to measure and report our community contributions. Community contributions made by our Home Improvement and Office Supplies division are assured by Net Balance as part of its overall assurance of this report (see here for the relevant statements).
We also report our indirect community contributions, which are donations contributed by our customers through our businesses, for example, money raised through community sausage sizzles at our Bunnings stores. This year we facilitated a total of $43 million in indirect community contributions, which went to a wide range of community initiatives.
The award-winning Wesfarmers Arts program continues to provide major ongoing support to a number of premier Australian arts companies. With a focus on increasing the opportunities for the community to experience quality art and culture from Australia and the world, Wesfarmers has been working in partnership with both national and Western Australian arts companies since 1985. Our belief is that a vibrant cultural sector makes a positive contribution to the lives of all Australians.
During the year, we took our 15 year partnership with West Australian Symphony Orchestra to a new level, becoming the orchestra’s Principal Partner. Wesfarmers is also Principal Partner of West Australian Opera and The Art Gallery of Western Australia, which we have supported since 1989. With major support from Wesfarmers, West Australian Ballet took up residence in the new State Ballet Centre in 2012. The national touring exhibition LUMINOUS WORLD: contemporary art from the Wesfarmers Collection opened at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in October 2012 and will tour Australia until 2015. The exhibition is bringing contemporary art from the Wesfarmers collection to communities around the country for the first time. Other highlights during the year included the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s (ACO) Reef tour across the Top End, with support from Wesfarmers Arts enabling the ACO to present a month-long program of concerts and master classes with communities across the Pilbara, Kimberley and Northern Territory in July 2012. Reaching a national audience is the Wesfarmers Arts Indigenous Fellowships and Leadership program with the National Gallery of Australia. Now in its third year, the program sees up to 12 Indigenous arts workers from around the country participate each year in a professional development program with staff and collections of the National Gallery.
This year Target announced its principal sponsorship of the Kids Teaching Kids education program. The program allows students to switch roles with their teachers and focus on learning about environmental issues affecting their school, their community and their country. Target supports Kids Teaching Kids in a number of ways, including direct financial support of the program, donations of gift vouchers for schools to buy supplies for their projects, and supporting schools to participate with the provision of teaching grants.
Team members across the country are encouraged to actively participate in Kids Teaching Kids Week. Participating stores are invited to attend school presentations during the week, to participate in educational activities and to share information about the sustainability initiatives that Target undertakes. Some stores have offered to conduct store tours for schools to demonstrate, for example, how Target manages and recycles high volumes of waste.
Through this program Target aims to foster the creativity and enthusiasm of Australian school kids and encourage them to lead the country to an environmentally sustainable future.