Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Report finds stores licensing delivers healthier food to remote Indigenous communities

An independent report has found stores licensing in the Northern Territory has helped people in remote communities to have better access to healthy, affordable food.

The Australian Government established a licensing regime for community stores in the Northern Territory as part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER).

The evaluation of the Community Stores Licensing Program by the Cultural & Indigenous Research Centre Australia found the regime has helped improve food security, especially with regards to the quality, quantity and range of healthy food available.

The report found that between July to December 2010, 86 per cent of stores were selling at least 13 varieties of fresh vegetables and 91 per cent sold at least 7 varieties of fresh fruit.

The availability of healthy food was also helping to promote better nutrition. In one store, the store manager reported that fruit and vegetable sales had gone up by 28 per cent in dollar value in the last year.

One community member consulted for the report said: “Now it’s like a real store, with aisles you can walk down, a range of products, prices, proper clean shelving, fridges for fresh food and meat…”

The report also found the licensing regime had helped to improve the management of stores, including financial management.

Many people consulted for the report said that one of the most positive reforms brought about by stores licensing had been the abolition of book-up. They also reported that there was now more consistent pricing and labelling of goods on shelves.

The report also found a high level of compliance with the income management requirements for stores.

The evaluation found that there were still concerns about some aspects of stores operations, including the quality of food sold by takeaway stores. It also indicated that further work should be done on the governance practices of stores.

The Australian Government is committed to providing remote communities with better access to healthy and affordable food. We will look at ways we can continue to progress this and carefully consider the report’s findings.

For a copy of the report visit: