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Community stores in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
House of Representatives committee
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
Community stores in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

ACTING CHAIRMAN (Mr Laming) —I now declare open this public hearing of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs inquiry into community stores in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land, the Rembarrnga and Dalabon people, and to pay our respects to the elders, past, present and future. The committee also acknowledges the Aboriginal people who now reside in this area. The committee members are thankful to the Bulman community for receiving us to conduct this public hearing here today.

Please note that these meetings are formal proceedings of parliament. Everything you say should be factual and honest, and it can be considered a serious matter to attempt to mislead the committee. I invite you to make comments that will assist us in our inquiry with the intention of making some improvements to the current government administration in relation to remote community stores.

At the conclusion of the formal part of the hearing we will be conducting an open forum. We would welcome hearing from those of you in the audience who would like to speak on the operation of remote community stores. This hearing is open to the public and a transcript of what is said will be placed on the committee’s website.

We are looking at three things. The first part is about how to get the best food, fruit and vegetables out to the stores, the cost of freight, the problems with power, and all the expenses of running the store. The second part, about the store itself, I will let Kerry describe.

Ms REA —Thank you. I too would like to pay my respects to the traditional owners and elders, past, present and future. I am the member for Bonner, which is in the south-eastern suburbs of Brisbane in Queensland, so it is a hell of a long way away from here. But it is really nice to be here with you this afternoon.

This inquiry is really important for us and we have had a lot of good discussions with people in different communities. We are really interested to know about the management of the store. I guess one thing we have learned is that a store that is owned by the community that has community involvement in the management—in how the store is run, who purchases and what you do—seems to be really important for the success of a community store. So we are really keen to hear how you, leaders in this community, work with the managers of your store to make it a success. Thank you.

Mrs VALE —Ladies and gentlemen, I am the federal member for Hughes, which is in southern Sydney. Hughes takes in the Sutherland and Liverpool local government areas. It is very close to Botany Bay. The local traditional people from my area are the Ngunawal and Gundungarra people. They are saltwater people. But what we are trying to have a look at, with the government’s interest in your community stores, is to make sure that all the people of the community—most particularly the children—have access to fresh fruit and vegetables, so that they get the best nutrition they can have, wholesome food, and hopefully grow into more improved and healthier human beings.

So that is why we are here today: to have a look at how your store is providing for you, and to make sure that your fresh fruit and vegetables are accessible. But also we would like to hear from the mothers. It is one thing to have fresh fruit and vegetables and good food available in the store, but are you able to prepare your food for your families? So we would like to hear from some of the mothers about some of the challenges that they have. Thank you.

ACTING CHAIR —We will now hear from witnesses in the open forum part of our hearing.

 [5.34 pm]