Report on food pricing and food security in remote Indigenous communities

On Monday, the Indigenous Affairs Committee had tabled its report on food pricing and food security in remote Indigenous communities. The report found that food costs are very high in many remote communities, reinforcing long-held concerns regarding food security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who are living remotely; however, it did not find evidence of systemic price-gouging taking place in remote community stores. Julian Leeser MP, Chair of the Committee, noted that ‘Food security issues for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are not new. For many people living remotely, food security is a constant concern. The supply of quality and affordable food is often unstable due to poor infrastructure, seasonal changes, the high costs of living and operating stores remotely.’

In response on Tuesday, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney MP and Shadow Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians, Warren Snowdon MP questioned in their Media Release, ‘How are we suppose to close the gap in quality of life outcomes when we are continuing to witness – in 2020 and in such a wealthy nation – the deprivation of basic items that so many of us in non-remote areas take for granted, like electricity or sufficient refrigeration space.’

The Release continues with, ‘It is truly astounding that when the most vulnerable groups in Australia are paying some of the highest prices for the most basic items, the Government is pre-occupied with its pursuit of the Cashless Debit card – which disproportionately impacts First Nations people.’

On the same day, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, released a statement saying, ‘I note the [Indigenous Affairs] Committee’s endorsement of the effective collaboration of industry, communities, NGO’s and governments in working together to ensure food supply to remote communities during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year”. The Release further notes, a high priority for the Morrison Government, both long term and during COVID-19 is to ensure a reliable supply of essential goods, groceries and other critical supplies in remote communities. Minister Wyatt concludes with, ‘I am currently considering the recommendations and will work with my Ministerial colleagues who hold responsibility for these matters to consider our next steps.’

To access the original Media Release from the Indigenous Affairs Committee, click here, and to read the full Media Release from Linda Burney and Warren Snowdon, click here. Finally, to access the Media Release from the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians, click here.

December 9, 2020

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Posted by: Nawsheen Hyland