Meet the Manager: Amelita John

Meet the Manager: Amelita John

Store Manager Amelita is paving the way for aspiring Indigenous leaders to follow in her footsteps.

Amelita John is from the Bulman community located 310km north-west of Katherine and grew up between both Bulman and Beswick communities.
Ms John was employed by the Beswick store in early 2015 as a register operator, later becoming a shop assistant and completing her certificate II in retail operations.

Her outstanding work ethic, attitude and leadership was quickly noticed by store managers Gavin and Tammy Stephens who supported her through completion of certificate III in retail operations and developing her skills as a young retailer and leader.

In March 2017 Amelita was promoted to the position of store manager.

Topping off a huge year Amelita was named as a semi-finalist in the Genesee & Wyoming Australia Indigenous Achievement Award, and the Glencore McArthur River Mining Regional and Rural Initiative Award. These awards form part of the Northern Territory Young Achiever Awards.

This nomination was received for her efforts in attracting and mentoring young staff into the workplace, the dedication to her job and demonstrating to youth that it is possible to gain a successful career in their own community.

Amelita lists Gavin and Tammy as her biggest influences on her career to date, with her future goals including completing her certificate IV in retail operations along with training local Indigenous staff to follow in her footsteps as a store manager.

Managing the 2016-17 Wet Season

Managing the 2016-17 Wet Season

The 2016-17 wet season was predicted to deliver higher than average rainfall. This was certainly the case, total rainfall in the Northern Territory was up 48% on average with the Darwin Airport recording its third wettest wet season on record.

Twelve community stores were adversely affected by flooding and road closures in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
The Nitjpurru Community Store in Pigeon Hole, 420km south-west of Katherine in the Northern Territory was the worst affected, being inaccessible by road for over 3 months. The one road into the community is routinely cut-off during wet season by the surging Victoria River; with the high level of rainfall this wet season making things particularly challenging.

Seventeen flights were required to Nitjpurru to deliver the community day to day essentials. This included stock being flown in by helicopter from the Camfield Station 50km’s away as the community runway was deemed unsafe for a fixed-wing plane to land.

Other stores in the Northern Territory that were significantly affected included Ngukurr, Gulin Gulin (Bulman), Canteen Creek, Wetenngerr (Epenarra), Wirliyajarrayi (Wilowra), Nyirripi and Mt. Liebig, In Western Australia, Wirrimanu (Balgo), Mulan, Kundat Djaru (Ringer Soak) and Tjuntjuntjara were also affected for significant periods of time.
The Western Australian Department of Fire and Emergency Services supported by providing 15 different trips into these communities with a Cessna Caravan aircraft. This is significant as this aircraft can transport 1,000kg of freight at a time, other aircraft can only hold between 200 – 400kg.

The majority were to the Wirrimanu community 250km from Halls Creek.

In total 46 flights at a cost of $105,800. were provided by Outback Stores to ensure all communities had sufficient access to food and day to day essentials throughout the wet season.

The 2016-17 wet season will go down as one of the most difficult and challenging but also one of the most memorable. Outstanding collaboration between stores, merchandise suppliers, freight providers and Outback Stores ensured some of the most remote communities in Australia were supported through one of the wettest seasons on record.

Ara Wankatjara Nyinanyi (Good Health Story)

Ara Wankatjara Nyinanyi (Good Health Story)

Ara Wankatjara is the inspirational story of the most remote Aboriginal community in Australia and their work overcoming health problems caused by a western diet.

This unique and heartfelt documentary gives a moving insight into how the people of Tjuntjuntjara took control of their future and made positive health changes within their remote community.

From Tjuntjuntjara community directors Debbie Hansen and Josie McArthur:

“We are the Spinifex people from the Great Victoria Desert in Western Australia. A proud and strong people. This is our story about how we are trying to improve the health of our people to keep our culture strong. We hope everyone enjoys this.”

This community-driven project was a joint venture between Outback Stores, the Paupiyala Tjarutja Aboriginal Corporation and Flywire films.

Sugar Reduction at Wirrimanu

Sugar Reduction at Wirrimanu

The Results: 18,700 litres less sugary drink in the community or 1,680 kilograms less sugar.

Outback Stores has been working with the Wirrimanu Aboriginal Corporation on a range of strategies over the last 12 months to reduce sugary drinks. Outback Stores policies around drinks include:


  • $1 for 600ml water
  • Diet drinks more expensive than water
  • Diet drinks 25% cheaper than full sugar varieties


  • Water fridges at the front of the store
  • Sugary drinks located towards the back of the store
  • At least 50% display of diet drinks and water
  • Large (1 litre) long-life fruit drink will not be displayed in fridges


  • Promotions on diet drinks and water
  • No discounting or promotion of sugary drinks
  • No display of sugary drinks in promotional areas e.g. aisle ends or special tables


  • Full range of diet drinks and water
  • Diet sports drinks instead of sugary sports drinks
  • Largest size 1.25 litres

In addition to Outback Stores policies around sugary drinks, the community has reduced the portion size of the bottles of the most popular selling lines, reduced availability during school hours and ceased selling sugary drinks one day per week.

There are other factors which may have also affected drink sales a long-wet season which saw the community cut by road for months, relocation of the store into a smaller area while the new store was being built, the opening of a new takeaway and the sports carnival was delayed and not held in 2017.

Using the proportion of all drink sales takes into account differences in total sales. The proportion of sugary drinks has dropped 6.32% (from 56.44% to 50.12%) in 2017. This is approximately 18700 litres less sugary drink in the community or 1680 kilograms less sugar.

Outback Stores will continue to work with the community to reduce sugary drinks.

Image: Nutrition and Dietetic Student Holly Ranson providing insight to the community on sugary drinks.

Wirrimanu Supermarket Re-Opens

Wirrimanu Supermarket Re-Opens

December 14th 2016 marked the opening of the new Wirrimanu Supermarket in Balgo. This was a unique and special occasion.

The $4 million development will make a significant improvement to the lives of up to 1000 people in and around the East Kimberley Aboriginal community for many years to come.

The new Supermarket is vastly different to the old with a modern feel throughout. Significant upgrades include a new and improved range of food and general merchandise along with a new kitchen and takeaway facility.

In 2008 the Wirrimanu community was having difficulty running the store effectively and efficiently, thus the community was suffering. The store had fallen into significant debt and the longevity of the store was in question.

The store directors decided to approach Outback Stores to help. The directors and Outback Stores agreed that a significant refocus on governance and efficient day to day operations was needed to turn the business around.

The community worked vigilantly to embed solid processes and sustainable business practices. Thus, 8 years later all existing debt had been cleared. Impressively the store had also banked $2 million in profit.

The directors decided the money was to be used towards building a new and improved supermarket for the community.

The Aboriginal Corporation successfully applied for a commercial loan for the additional $2 million required to complete the development.

The first time an Aboriginal community has initiated and funded its own new store. An outstanding achievement. Over the journey, a strong relationship between both organisations has been forged and is a testament to what can be achieved by a strong community working side by side with Outback Stores.

The idea of a new modern style supermarket was that of the previous chairperson of the store directors, as the old store was not much more than an old tin shed.

Sadly, the previous chairperson Kumuntjayi Bumblebee passed away a few weeks before the opening, his family, the Bumblebees were on hand to cut the ribbon at the opening and signify the amazing legacy left behind for current and future generations.

The opening was an emotional day including speeches, the blessing of the store, traditional dance and a huge community BBQ. The kitchen and takeaway opened in January 2017, with the focus on providing healthy and nutritious meals for the community.

Image: The team is all smiles ahead of the first day of trade in the new store.