Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

ABA funding to improve stores in remote NT communities

Joint Media Release with:

  • Warren Snowdon MP, Minister for Indigenous Health, Member for Lingiari

Eighteen remote communities across the Northern Territory will get better access to healthy and more affordable food thanks to a $50 million dollar funding package supported through the Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA).

The ABA Community Stores Infrastructure Project is providing new purpose-built or refurbished community stores and store manager accommodation to help ensure healthy and affordable food is stocked.

This project is a new strategic partnership between the Australian Government and the Aboriginals Benefit Account Advisory Committee (ABAAC).

The ABA was established under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, as part of a broader effort to improve the lives of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, said supplying remote communities with healthy food is vital to improving the health of local people.

“It is essential that community stores are equipped to provide a good range of fresh, reasonably priced food,” Ms Macklin said.

“Often the community store is the only source of food within the community. Poor or inadequate infrastructure may affect the store’s operation and viability, impacting on the health of local residents. That’s why we want to improve this infrastructure.”

The Minister for Indigenous Health and the Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon, said poor store infrastructure can also limit the range, quality and quantity of food available to communities.

“This can lead to higher prices due to significant wastage, higher energy consumption, and limited capacity to store emergency dry goods and to maintain adequate stock levels when transport is unreliable,” Mr Snowdon said.

“Poor staff accommodation also results in high turnover of professional store managers.”

The Chair of the ABAAC, Mrs Pat Brahim, said it is important that ABA funding is strategic and targeted to provide real and sustainable benefits for Aboriginal people.

“A key success of the joint partnership between the Australian Government and the ABAAC in delivering this important initiative is the genuine commitment from both organisations to work with Aboriginal people and community groups to deliver the project,” Mrs Brahim said.

“Through the partnership, both the Government and the ABAAC have consulted extensively with each of the communities, giving community members every opportunity to voice their vision for their community store.

“Engaging with Aboriginal communities in a positive and constructive way will continue to be our main focus as the initiative is rolled out.”

The communities that will receive funding for store infrastructure are Areyonga, Barunga, Beswick, Bulla, Bulman, Canteen Creek, Engawala, Epenarra, Gunbalanya, Haasts Bluff, Jilkminggan, Milikapiti, Papunya, Peppimenarti, Pirlangimpi, Timber Creek, Willowra and Yuendumu.

These stores have been assessed as high priority by a panel of experts appointed by the ABAAC.

Ms Macklin said the partnership to deliver appropriate community store infrastructure to remote communities was an important initiative that paved the way for other strategic projects as part of the ABA process.

“I thank the chair of the ABAAC, Mrs Pat Brahim, and the 14 other members for working closely with the Government on the project, and I look forward to continuing this collaboration into the future,” Ms Macklin said.