Improved access to healthy food in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities
Stores licensing will now apply to more stores in the Northern Territory, after the Australian Government finalised plans for its expansion.
As part of Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory, stores licensing is being expanded to include all stores outside of major centres that service Aboriginal communities, not just stores located in or close to Aboriginal communities.
Under the changes the Northern Territory is defined as a food security area, apart from major centres that are specifically excluded.
The Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin said the changes mean stores in the food security area will need a licence to operate if they are an important source of food, drink or grocery items to an Aboriginal community.
“The Government recently engaged with key businesses and organisations in the Northern Territory to finalise the new areas that stores licensing will apply to,” Ms Macklin said.
“Due to strong competition, higher levels of consumer awareness and the variety of food, drink and grocery outlets, the expanded stores licensing will not apply in the major centres of Darwin, Palmerston, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine and Nhulunbuy.
“Licensing focuses on all aspects of a store’s operation, including on the range and promotion of healthy food, the quality of retail management, governance and financial practices.
“Aboriginal people have told us that store licensing has improved the quality and availability of fresh, healthy food, and is having a positive impact on their communities,” Ms Macklin said.
The Minister for Indigenous Health Warren Snowdon said that a survey released last year showed Aboriginal people said that children are now healthier, happier and more active than three years ago.
“The Government wants to continue to improve the availability of fresh and healthy food in stores, as well as help stores to be sustainable by improving governance and retail practices,” Mr Snowdon said.
The new scheme will support stores to meet the requirements of store licensing. This may include things like providing financial support where necessary to improve storage, make essential repairs and install systems to help keep track of stock and sales.
The Government will also work with the committees of Aboriginal owned stores and support them to provide strong governance and leadership for their stores.
Stores in the expanded area that need to hold a licence will be brought into the scheme over a period of time and will be contacted about the changes well before licensing assessments occur.
The new scheme will also provide for a wider range of penalties for licence breaches.
The Government is investing $40.9 million over ten years in the expanded stores licensing scheme.
Senator for the Northern Territory Trish Crossin said healthy food was critical to providing children with the best start in life.
“The Australian Government wants all children to get the best start on life. Healthy food also helps reduce the chances of chronic illness for people later in life,” Senator Crossin said.