8 April, 2020

Securing the essentials for remote communities

Ensuring a reliable supply of essential goods, groceries, pharmaceuticals and other critical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic is a high priority for the Australian Government.

The Australian Government is working in close collaboration with states and territories under the National Cabinet mechanism to coordinate responses in a range of sectors. Groceries and food security is one of the priority groups under this mechanism.

Today I will host a roundtable discussion with Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, the Hon Michael Gunner and representatives from the Arnhem Land Progress Association (ALPA), Islanders Board of Industry and Service (IBIS), Outback Stores, Coles, Woolworths and Metcash. This is part of my ongoing engagement with Ministers from all jurisdictions.

To support this work, the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) – has established a dedicated Food Security Working Group that is closely monitoring specific issues that are particular to regional and remote Australia.

Delivery of food and essential supplies is an exempt category from the travel restrictions to remote areas and so will continue as normal.

People can move within designated biosecurity areas, but if they leave and want to come back, they will need to isolate themselves for 14 days.

Travelling to other towns and cities could increase the chance of you and your family getting sick and so we are encouraging people to remain in their community.

The safest place for you and your family is in your own community.

There is no need for people in remote communities to stock-up or hoard supplies and we need the community’s help to resist the panic buying we’ve seen in urban areas.

I am aware of some community stores not receiving their full order and a limited number of stores having stock issues. This is something that all Australians are experiencing to some extent.

People can expect some pressure on stock levels for a couple of weeks, but we are doing everything we can to resolve those issues as they develop.

Communities can help:

  • We need community support to make sure we don’t run out of supplies.
  • Please don’t panic buy or stock up on groceries more than normal.
  • Deliveries will continue and there will be enough groceries for everyone if we each only buy what we need.

Media contact: Luke Nayna, Senior Media Adviser, 0438 231 687