• Supermarkets have experienced shortages on basic items following panic buying across the country. ( SOPA Images)Source: SOPA Images
NSWALC and the NSW Government have launched a program, delivering food and other essential supplies to isolated and remote Aboriginal communities across the state.
By
Keira Jenkins

Source:
NITV News
14 Apr 2020 - 4:56 PM  UPDATED 14 Apr 2020 - 4:56 PM

Essential items like toilet paper and soap, as well as non-perishable food supplies will be making their way to Elders and other vulnerable people in 65 communities across NSW, starting this week.

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council and the NSW Government teamed up to deliver these supplies to some of the most remote communities in the state to help combat the effects that COVID-19 restrictions and panic buying are having.

NSWALC CEO James Christian told NITV News the first delivery of about 500 boxes is already in high demand.

"The registration system for these boxes opened this morning at 7am and within the first five hours we’d registered over 200 people to receive a box starting from this week," he said.

 

To begin with, the delivery service is focusing on the most vulnerable people in the communities, including Elders, and people over 60 with healthcare concession cards.

Mr Christian said these people are not just more susceptible to COVID-19 but they are also more likely to be impacted by panic-buying and face barriers to getting the essentials.

"To be able to get to the nearest shop, which in some cases will be over an hour or two hours return journey, that’s a challenge in itself," he said.

"But to then find that when they arrive at these shops and find that there is very little or nothing left on the shelves, is just impossible.

"They can't come back, they can't wait for the shelves to be restocked, they get that one opportunity. 

"We identify that those people are most vulnerable and the aim is to get to them as quickly as possible. First delivery is starting this week.

"The box will contain up to two weeks of food - non-perishables - that can sustain an individual for up to two weeks and some hygiene products, things like toilet paper and soap and some other little bits and pieces that people really need at this time."

But Mr Christian said food insecurity is not just a problem because of the Coronavirus.

He said more needs to be done to make sure these communities have access to food all the time, not just during a pandemic.

"It’s not a substitute for these communities and individuals having access to a constant supply of affordable, healthy food," he said.

"This continues to be a problem that neither level of government, neither the NSW Government or the Federal Government, have been able to fix. 

"These challenges have been in these communities for a very long time around access to food security.

"A lot of people would have heard that the Walgett store has burnt down for the second time in a matter of a year, they've got a pop-up store.

"But still by the time community members and particularly our elderly and frail, can get down to the store a lot of the product is already gone.

"They can't go to the nearest town to go to the biggest shopping centre that they can, they just don't have that luxury."

Wilcannia peak community group wants town closed to visitors to prevent virus from spreading
The representatives of the Aboriginal community in Wilcannia, in western NSW, want the local area closed to visitors to prevent the spread of COVID-19 into their community, but first they need to convince the government of Australia's most populated state.