Westfield’s huge call after Bondi deaths

The future of Westfield Bondi Junction has been revealed following a horrific stabbing rampage at the weekend.

Westfield Bondi Junction will be reopened for a “community reflection day” following the deaths of six people in a horrific stabbing rampage that sent shockwaves through Sydney.

Scentre group chief executive Elliott Rusanow said there would be no retail trade at the centre when the doors reopened on Thursday, instead saying members of the community could pay their respects.

Counselling and services will be on site to provide the necessary help before normal trading hours resume on Friday.

Some stores would choose not to reopen, Mr Rusanow said.

“This has been a very difficult time and I want to acknowledge the hard work and tireless efforts of our Westfield Bondi and Scentre Group teams,” he said.

“They have been working through conditions which have been devastating in their minds and in all our minds.”

Scentre Group chief executive Elliott Rusanow. Picture: Supplied
Scentre Group chief executive Elliott Rusanow said Westfield Bondi Junction would be reopened on Thursday for community reflections. Picture: Supplied
Tributes have streamed in, with a mountain of flowers decorating Bondi Junction following the deaths of six people. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

“The centre will be quiet, allow for reflection to occur as members of the community are able to come and pay their respects.”

Mr Rusanow said part of the centre would be allocated for tributes to the victims, and it would remain for a considerable amount of time to allow people to continue paying their respects.

The type and level of music to be played will also be discussed with businesses to not be overbearing on the “serenity” the centre is attempting to create.

Digital advertising screens would also display the black ribbon – the symbol projected onto the Opera House by the NSW government – instead of advertisements, Mr Rusanow said.

A further candlelight vigil, supported by Waverley Council and the NSW government, will be held on Sunday to allow the community to “come together and honour the victims of the Bondi Junction tragedy”.

It will begin at 5.30pm at Dolphin Court on Bondi Beach – south of the Bondi Pavilion.

“This has been a devastating attack that’s touched everybody in the state, whether you knew one of the victims or not,” NSW Premier Chris Minns said.

Joel Cauchi, 40, led an itinerant lifestyle and had limited contact with his family in Queensland.

  • He was a former teaching student

  • Thought to have moved to NSW in March, but was a regular visitor to the state

  • Stopped by Sydney police in The Rocks in June 2023. They believed he was acting suspiciously and searched him but had no reason to detain him

  • Known to QLD police for mental health issues, but not arrested or charged

  • Suffered from mental health issues from age 17; diagnosed with schizophrenia

  • Advertised as a male escort online, calling himself "athletic, good looking"

  • Posted on Facebook on April 8 seeking a surfing buddy at Bondi Beach

“This vigil will be an opportunity for the community to stand together to support and honour the victims and survivors of this horrific tragedy.

“I hope they can draw some strength from the fact that there’s many people that are standing with them during this time.”

Attendees are asked to bring their own candle to take part in the vigil.

“The NSW government is working with Waverley Council to support this community event, including ensuring services such as counsellors and mental health first aid are available on site,” a statement from Mr Minns’ office states.

“People are encouraged to catch public transport to and from the vigil.”

Waverley Council Mayor Paula Masselos said it was a time for the community to support each other and stand together while in “deep grief”.

“This vigil will be an opportunity to reflect and commence healing,” she said.

Six people – including five women and a male security guard – were killed by Joel Cauchi, 40, as he attacked innocent bystanders at Bondi Junction Westfield in Sydney’s east on Saturday.

Assignment Freelance Picture Faraz Ahmed Tahir, Ashlee Good, Jade Young and Dawn Singleton have\n been identified, as at 4pm April 14, as four of the six people killed at the\n Bondi Junction Westfield attack.
Faraz Ahmed Tahir, Ashlee Good, Jade Young and Dawn Singleton were among the six killed during the attack. Picture: Supplied
Floral tributes are laid at Bondi Junction after the massacre. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

The attack began about 3.20pm that day.

The victims include mother Ashlee Good, 38, Dawn Singleton, 25, the daughter of millionaire businessman John Singleton, mother-of-two Jade Young, 47, Pikria Darchia, 55, Chinese national Yixuan Cheng, 27, and security guard Faraz Tahir, 30.

Others – including a baby – were injured by Cauchi before he was shot dead by police officer Amy Scott.

Mr Rusanow said members of the victim’s families had consulted with Scentre Group over the reflection day.

“I was with those families yesterday, it was a very emotional experience and we have had the opportunity to provide the reflection moment while the centre remains closed,” he said.

An area of Westfield Bondi Junction will be sectioned off to allow people to pay tributes during the reflection day on Thursday. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Monique Harmer

Security has also increased across other Westfield stores since the incident.

Mr Rusanow confirmed that increased security and police would be present at Bondi Westfield during the gradual reopening.

He paid tribute to Mr Tahir, who was working at the centre at the time he was fatally stabbed while confirming his family were flying in from Pakistan to pay their own tributes to their son.

“We’re working with his family and all the victims’ family in how they grieve and move forward from the tragedy,” Mr Rusanow said.

A longer-term memorial would be subject to consultation with the families of the victims, he said.

The move follows the centre being closed as police combed the scene during their investigations.

One line of inquiry includes whether Cauchi was targeting women, as five of the six people killed were female.

Police Commissioner Karen Webb said it appeared that women were targeted. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Monique Harmer

At least eight of the 12 victims in hospital are women.

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb on Monday confirmed that it remained a “concerning” line of inquiry.

“It’s difficult to say … I mean, it’s obvious to us, and the video evidence does show that and so it certainly will be a line of inquiry,” she said.

Hundreds of exhibits have been seized by police and will be subject to forensic investigation over the coming days and weeks.

The NSW government has committed $18m to expedite and expand a coronial inquest into the deaths – similar to actions in the aftermath of the 2014 Lindt Cafe siege.

Mr Minns said the funding would probe the response to the incident and any interactions Cauchi may have had before the stabbings.

“I expect that inquiry will look at not just the NSW police response and the criminal investigation surrounding the events in Bondi Junction on Saturday afternoon but also this offender’s interactions with the NSW government, in NSW Health and government agencies as well as with help from the Queensland government, any interactions that this man had in that state,” he said.

State Coroner Teresa O’Sullivan will head the inquiry.

The funding will also cover trauma-informed care for victims and families, including appropriate family liaison support.

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