Aboriginal community health groups have said they remain concerned about a controversial proposal to open a Dan Murphy’s liquor super-store near three dry Aboriginal communities in Darwin.
On Thursday afternoon, the group behind the proposal announced that it would relocate the site of its store in response to strong opposition from local Indigenous health groups over a five year period.
In an open letter, the Endeavour Group - a company majority-owned by Woolworths- said it was relocating the proposed super-store to a site 1.3 kilometres away, but on Thursday night community health organisations issued their own statement saying the move had done little to alleviate the risk to the dry communities.
Danila Dilba health service CEO and co-author of the statement, Olga Havnen, told NITV News on Friday that she does not support the revised site, which is still within walking distance from Bagot, Minmarama and Kulaluk.
"This is about the destruction of people, these things matter. There is a high risk of increased numbers of foetal alcohol syndrome, as well as the inevitable level of family and domestic violence, assault and other risks to the health and wellbeing of the community," said Ms Havnen.
Ms Havnen told NITV News that questions also remained around a bill put before the NT parliament earlier this week that would effectively fast track a decision by the NT Director of Liquor Licensing on the outcome of the application for the liquor-mart.
On Thursday afternoon, Endeavour Group general manager of corporate services Shane Tremble released an open letter announcing the relocation of the proposed store.
The Endeavour Group's letter also claimed the change had alleviated some of the key concerns expressed by the local Indigenous community.
“We have spent a lot of time having meaningful conversations with local communities to understand their views, listen to any concerns they may have and to address them,” said the statement.
Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern Territory CEO, John Paterson, and Ms Havnen responded to the Endeavour Group's revised plans in their own letter on Thursday evening.
Their statement emphasised that they did not support the relocation to a neighbouring site that was still located within walking distance of the three dry Aboriginal communities.
"We do not support the current proposed location on Bagot Road and Osgood Drive, and we certainly do not support the new location which has only just been revealed," the letter said.
Maritime Union of Australia’s National Indigenous Officer, Thomas Mayor, a strong opponent of the proposal, also told NITV News on Friday that an oversupply of cheap alcohol already existed in Darwin.
"They haven’t consulted at all with Aboriginal Peak Health Organisations and they haven’t met with the leader of the Bagot community, Helen Fejo-Frith," said Mr Mayor.
“We just don’t need more grog. A superstore like that would go against the advice of the Liquor Commission, peak health organisations, and community leaders.
"It’s not like Territorians don’t already have access to a wide variety of alcohol. This would just have a detrimental impact on the community."