Friday, June 14, 2024

Supporting Indigenous communities

Established in 2006, Outback Stores emerged from a need to improve the health of Indigenous people in remote Australia by addressing nutrition, unreliable food supplies and store closures.

Australia’s large size and widely scattered population create unique supply challenges that are exacerbated the further a community is from cities and regional centres.

“The communities in which [we] work are some of the most remote in Australia, with the closest regional centres sometimes hundreds of kilometres away,” Outback Stores CEO Michael Borg said.

“It’s not uncommon for communities to be inaccessible by road for weeks or even months during wet season. Stock is often required to be flown in by light plane or helicopter during this time.”

Through logistical planning and strong partnerships with suppliers, Outback Stores is able to overcome such challenges. This has given remote communities access to a consistently high standard range and quality of fresh fruit, vegetables and other healthy staples all year round.

“Outback Stores’ primary focus is on delivering food security while operating on sound commercial principles to deliver sustainable social outcomes,” Mr Borg said.

“We work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in a holistic way to improve health, nutrition, employment, training and economic outcomes for first Australians.”

Outback Stores encourages healthier purchases through nutrition promotion and affordable pricing, while not restricting individual choice.

“Our positive contribution is measured by the reduction in sales of sugary drinks and tobacco, while increasing the sale of water, fruit and vegetables,” Mr Borg said.

The company is focused on improving affordability of healthy food, with fruit and vegetable prices maintained as close as possible to those of major metropolitan retailers.

With the rising cost of fuel and food across the country, this task will be especially challenging in the year ahead, says Mr Borg.

“We’re working with our partners and suppliers to ensure those rising costs are mitigated as much as possible in remote communities through the streamlined services that we offer,” he said.

Read more about Outback Stores in the latest issue of Retail World.

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