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How can real estate give back?

By Juliet Helmke
14 March 2024 | 11 minute read
kul singh REA group reb pn3e5a

With housing issues front and centre of Australian psyche right now, social impact must be higher on the agenda of Australia’s agencies.

It was an idea stressed at REA Group’s Ready24 conference this week, which saw 100 per cent of ticket proceeds donated to charity partners.

As REA Group’s chief customer officer Kul Singh explained, the event, which drew a crowd of 1,200 to Sydney’s Royal Randwick, was designed from the outset to centre social impact.

“Our purpose is to change the way the world experiences property,” Singh explained, noting that includes the entire housing ecosystem.

“We’re in the property sector, as are all our customers, and yet things like homelessness are growing. And that’s frustrating for us, it’s frustrating for our customers,” he said.

The decision to donate the proceeds of ticket sales, which amounted to $400,000, to the group’s longstanding charity partners Orange Sky, The Big Issue and Launch Housing, came into the planning process early, according to Singh, who said the executive team were on board immediately to support the vision of contributing to housing and homelessness initiatives with funding out of the event.

But beyond its monetary donation, the event’s line-up stayed with the theme of collective action, centering voices that emphasised the message that whether individually or combined, businesses in the real estate sector can have a substantial impact on their community and its challenges – if they so choose.

Tennis legend Andre Agassi set the tone when he stated in his opening keynote that “you can do well, and you can do good, and the two are not mutually exclusive”.

Sessions delivered by football great Adam Goodes, Who Gives a Crap founder Simon Griffiths, All Blacks’ mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka, work futurist Dom Price, and Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson, alongside midfielder Tameka Yallop, similarly emphasised the effect that industry leaders can have when they are mindful of their impact, whether that’s on individual employees, teams, or the greater society in which they operate.

According to Singh, the guiding principle of the program as well as the overall purpose of the event was a simple proposition: “How do we come together and think about the greater good we can do together? And how do we get better every day?”

For the partners who benefit from this thinking at REA – as well as their long term support – they say the impact of the event will be substantial.

According to Lucas Patchett, co-founder of Orange Sky, which offers a mobile laundry and shower service, conversation and human connection to those experiencing homelessness, the contribution from the event’s proceeds will enable an expansion of their services.

Orange Sky has never been busier. With the rise in cost of living, Aussies are doing it really tough, so its never been more important for Orange Sky to continue to expand our services to support the growing number of people who need our support,” Patchett said.

The funds will reportedly finance the operations of a laundry van for an entire year, which amounts to more than 6,200 loads of free laundry, while advancing the organisation’s goal of supporting 40,000 people by 2025.

The contribution to The Big Issue, meanwhile, will go directly to supporting the organisation’s housing initiative, Homes for Homes, according to CEO Steven Persson.

“This donation will directly help the creation of affordable dwellings for our most vulnerable in the community. It will build upon the $1.8 million-plus Homes for Homes has already granted in funding to 21 projects across Vic, NT, Qld, NSW, WA, and the ACT that provide housing for over 350 people,” he said.

Singh is careful to credit the many ticket buyers for enabling the firm to make the donation, and uses it to emphasise the importance of individual contribution to collective action.

“We can do so much more together,” he said.


Juliet Helmke

Based in Sydney, Juliet Helmke has a broad range of reporting and editorial experience across the areas of business, technology, entertainment and the arts. She was formerly Senior Editor at The New York Observer.

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