Walgett’s only supermarket burnt to the ground 5 June 2019, bringing another food security crisis which was compounded by 2020 Covid19 food distribution shortages.

Walgett’s Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations (“ACCOs”) call for the Commonwealth Government to establish a National Food and Nutrition Strategy - full media statement

that will ensure all Australians have access to the nutrition they need for wellbeing.

The CEO of the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (“WAMS”), Christine Corby OAM, and Project Manager of Walgett’s Dharriwaa Elders Group (“DEG”) Wendy Spencer, gave evidence to the House of Representatives Inquiry into Food Pricing and Food Security in Remote Indigenous Communities 12 August 2020.

Their opening statement explained how three recent emergencies brought Walgett’s food insecurity into focus.

“Our rivers were dried up for a long period. We couldn’t rely on a feed of fish any more. The WAMS Community Garden could no longer be watered, and the foods that have always supplemented WAMS clients who have a chronic disease, were no longer available. The salty bore water our drinking water was switched to, was unpalatable to drink, and we had to rely on donations of bottled water, or buying water. Then our only supermarket burnt down. Then, a few months down the track, Corona virus panic buying in the cities caused food and grocery shortages in regional and remote NSW towns. The Covid19 closure of the school canteens reduced food supplies even further."

“WAMS and DEG are long-standing Walgett Aboriginal organisations and we are always proactively reaching out to government agencies. But when a crisis occurs we still can’t find the right mechanisms in government to address these crises with holistic responses”.

“We ask both the Commonwealth and State departments that work in health, housing and the social sector, address the role that nutrition plays in health and wellbeing in communities like ours as well as communicate better and more regularly with existing Aboriginal organisations".

“We ask that the Commonwealth supports the already substantial food security efforts of Walgett Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations as we work towards improving our community’s food security and reducing our disproportionate burden of chronic disease. A productive local food economy and improved national food system that prioritises public health will additionally provide our town with more local jobs, particularly for Walgett’s disabled and long-term unemployed who have not achieved education outcomes equipping them to work in other industries”.

“Overarching the Strategy is our requirement for improved river and groundwater management”.

This call was made in a joint submission made by the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (“WAMS”) and Dharriwaa Elders Group (“DEG”) to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs Inquiry into Food Pricing and Food Security in Remote Indigenous Communities 15 July 2020. The submission can be found by selecting and downloading #98 from https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Indigenous_Affairs/Foodpricing/Submissions