• Barunga Community store depleted in one day after truck arrives with food and supplies. (Roper Gulf Regional Council)Source: Roper Gulf Regional Council
The Aboriginal community of Barunga in the Northern Territory had to be re-stocked with food and other supplies after a weeks worth of stock was depleted from panic-buyers on Tuesday.
Douglas Smith

2 Apr 2020 - 5:28 PM  UPDATED 2 Apr 2020 - 5:28 PM

The remote Aboriginal community of Barunga in the Northern Territory was almost completely depleted of food and supplies in one day after community members started panic-buying on Tuesday. 

The chief executive officer of the Aboriginal Investment Group (AIG), Steve Smith, told NITV News the situation had presented a "serious challenge" for him and his organisation.

Mr Smith said he could "foresee" panic-buying would become a "real issue" for AIG, which owns and supplies remote community grocery stores in the NT,  almost two months ago. 

He said he raised concerns about it with the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA), but did not receive a response until early this week. 

“The issues I’ve got, I reached out to Government weeks ago, when we started to foresee what the future would look like," Mr Smith told NITV News on Tuesday.  

"If we send a truck tomorrow and that gets smashed again, you know that could present a real issue for us and we’ve been raising that for about 4-6 weeks with the Federal Government.”

In a statement to NITV News, a spokesperson from NIAA said it was in regular contact with stores and organisations across remote Australia, but did not have a role in limiting purchases in individual stores or communities.

"The Government is supportive of stores introducing sensible purchasing limits of certain products to ensure restocking can meet demand," the statement said.

"Groceries and food security is one of the priority groups under this mechanism, of which the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) is a member.

"This ensures indigenous Australians’ issues and concerns are considered, in particular, the ongoing supply of essential goods to remote communities."

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