In these unprecedented times, we must tread carefully, decisively and swiftly, with compassion and deep consideration as we support our communities through the coronavirus pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic has distilled our lives to what’s most important and given us the space to reflect on what really matters.
For BHP, the health, safety, wellbeing and resilience of our people and our communities are what matters most. They always have and always will matter most.
We are working together with governments, businesses and individuals across Australia to collectively reclaim the future for the regions near our operations. Without them, we cannot operate. And without us working together, we can’t grow together.
Getting this right is critical.
That’s why we launched the A$50 million Vital Resources Fund last month to support regional Australian communities where we operate that are grappling with the COVID-19 outbreak. We are working with leaders, groups and our community partners to deliver supplies, programs and initiatives to areas that require support.
Aboriginal people in Newman, Western Australia who develop coronavirus-like symptoms but are unable to self-isolate in their homes now have access to a new quarantine facility. We recently partnered with EPIS Inc [East Pilbara Independence Support] to launch the facility for elderly, frail or disabled people, with an additional 15 houses available if required by the Newman community.
Last month, we postponed face-to-face engagements with Traditional Owner groups and supported local Aboriginal organisations and services to assist people to return to remote communities.
Over in Queensland, we joined forces with charity Tech to Country to provide technology to Year 12 students from Murri School so they can complete their studies online during the next school term.
Across regional Queensland, we’ve committed more than A$8 million to fund emergency relief vouchers for fuel, utility and food bills, and provide financial support for local businesses.
In South Australia and WA, we have committed to more than A$3 million to fund mental health support, supply IT equipment to allow community partners to work remotely, provide ingredients for remote communities to make their own soap, and help the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia meet increased demand for its services.
We’ve implemented stringent controls and measures at our sites, in accommodation and transport, such as social distancing, strict hygiene protocols, travel restrictions, and more intensive cleaning to reduce the risk of transmission among our workforce, their families and our communities.
We also accelerated payments to small, local and Indigenous suppliers in Australia to deliver A$100 million more quickly to those businesses as we reduced small business payment terms to seven days from 30 days. And we are hiring an additional 1,500 people to support our workforce across Australia.
While the pandemic is challenging us all every day, I have heard stories of kindness and generosity where people are helping those who are vulnerable.
There will be more we must all do to look out for each other and support the social and economic resilience of our communities in a healthy and safe way.
We are in this together.