• Proposed Dan Murphy outlet splits community (SBS)Source: SBS
RA says it will first await the results of an independent inquiry before deciding whther it will pull its support of Woolworths over a proposed liquor megastore near three dry Aboriginal communities in Darwin.
Shahni Wellington

23 Feb 2021 - 4:53 PM  UPDATED 23 Feb 2021 - 4:53 PM

Reconciliation Australia won't be severing ties with Woolworths Group just yet, despite mounting pressure over a planned Dan Murphy's megastore to be located near three 'dry' Aboriginal communities. 

Last week, an open letter was signed by more than 30 health and community organisations calling for the supermarket giant to have its Reconciliation Action Plan to be scrapped, similar to the course taken with Rio Tinto for the destruction of 46,000 year old rock formations at Juukan Gorge in the Pilbara.

The letter describes the construction of the Darwin alcohol mega-store, which will be located near three dry Aboriginal communities, as the "wilful and deliberate destruction of the health and lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples."

While the calls, including signatories from health, legal, domestic violence and community group leaders, have made clear their expectations to revoke and suspend the body - Reconciliation Australia said it won't make a decision until an inquiry is completed.

“Since we became aware of the issues surrounding the proposed Dan Murphy’s store in Darwin and opposition by community leaders and organisations we reached out to both the Woolworths’ Group and to community groups to understand both positions,” Reconciliation Australia CEO Karen Mundine said in a statement.

An Independent Panel Review is currently underway for the proposed building and the Woolworths Groups' community consultation, with a report expected at the end of March.

Reconciliation Australia will await the findings and also the response from Woolworths to those findings, before taking action.

“The Executive and Board of Reconciliation Australia make the final decision to remove an organisation from the RAP program, and it is not made lightly,” Ms Mundine said.

“We will continue to engage transparently with all parties before making a final decision.”

RA is the lead body for building respect and trust between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians, and said it took the integrity of its programs very seriously.

The letter follows the decison made by the National NAIDOC Committee to walk from its own major partnership with the Woolworths Group.

Woolworths was one of the official major sponsors of NAIDOC 2020 and was described as a "proud partner" in distributing around 200,000 NAIDOC posters across the country last year. 

An official announcement is expected from NAIDOC in the coming days.

Woolworths’ RAP says the company aims to build strong and lasting relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, based on principles of equal partnership, social justice and respect for past history in order to make a positive impact where it is needed most.”

Planned construction of the Darwin Dan Murphy's store will begin in April 2021, also pending the results of the inquiry. 

Reconciliation Australia urged to dump Woolies over NT liquor MegaStore
Health and community organisations have called on Reconciliation Australia to dump Woolworths over the controversial Dan Murphy's megastore in Darwin.