Food security in Urapunga

Food security in Urapunga

Urapunga, also known as Rittarangu, is a remote community situated 600km south-east of Darwin, on the southern edge of Arnhem Land.

Normally, the community is home to around 100 people, but that population had almost halved due to housing issues and a lack of food security. For several months in 2019, the community store was closed due to mismanagement and debt, leaving the residents to travel to the neighbouring community of Ngukurr for essential items. During the wet season, this road can become impassable, which contributed to the urgency to resolve the store’s financial problems.

Outback Stores was first approached by Urapunga Aboriginal Corporation to manage its store after yet another service provider withdrew from the community.

“We needed support because as a small community it was really hard for us to maintain the store,” said James Woods, board member of Urapunga Aboriginal Corporation.

In consultation with the corporation, it was decided that debt management was a priority, along with the installation of a full range of products and a total store refurbishment at a cost of over $174,000.

Today, the store is in a much better financial standing and has been transformed by brand new fixtures and fittings, a fresh coat of paint, a built-in fridge and freezer section, as well as an electrical and IT infrastructure upgrade.

“The shop looks much better. There’s lots more food on the shelves, the products are worth buying and the prices are cheaper too,” said James Woods, director of Urapunga Aboriginal Corporation.

This year, the community is looking forward to replacing the ceiling fans by enclosing the store and installing air conditioners, providing much-needed respite from the tropical Top End weather.


Story first published in the Outback Stores 2021 Annual Report.