NT Indigenous groups warn of food shortages during coronavirus pandemic

Thirteen NT Indigenous groups are demanding a "guarantee of affordable goods for remote communities" as they face food shortages because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance says remote stores are struggling to supply basic goods.

The Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance says remote stores are struggling to supply basic goods. Source: Getty

A coalition of 13 Indigenous groups in the Northern Territory has called on the national cabinet to immediately guarantee the supply of affordable food and other basics in locked-down remote communities.

The group also wants a government subsidy to offset high prices in remote communities to make food and other essentials more affordable.

"We are getting daily reports of remote stores struggling to supply basic goods," Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance chief executive John Paterson said.

"Some stores are running out of fresh food three days after their weekly delivery."

Mr Paterson said independent suppliers were struggling to get what they needed for remote stores.

With limited supplies and purchasing restrictions due COVID-19, residents from remote and rural communities are struggling to stock up.
Source: Getty

"We want an agreed proportion of these essential goods set aside for the independent suppliers," he said.

"This can't be solved through donated goods. It needs a systemic response from government."

The coalition of health services, land councils, and other Aboriginal organisations also wants a 20 per cent, point-of-sale subsidy of essential food, cleaning and hygiene products, as well as winter bedding and clothing.

It says prices in some remote stores are already running 60 per cent higher than in the major supermarkets.

The Central Land Council wants governments to help ensure food supply in remote Aboriginal communities.
Source: Central Land Council/Facebook

"We understand fresh fruit, vegetables and meat are not in short supply in the southern states and distributors are actively planning to address current shortages in remote stores in central Australia," Central Land Council Chief Executive Joe Martin-Jard said.

"However, we believe subsidies on essential goods at point-of-sale coupled with a supply guarantee will make a huge difference."

"We urge the national cabinet to take action before it is too late because time is all remote Aboriginal communities have on their side in their fight against the virus."


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Published 20 April 2020 at 2:24pm