A Healthy Future for Nguru-Walalja Store

Nguru-Walalja Store grew as a women’s project in the remote settlement of Yuendumu 9 years ago, the women realised how important healthy food was to the well-being of their children. Outback Stores has travelled the whole journey with them.

Nguru-Walalja Store grew as a women’s project in the remote settlement of Yuendumu 9 years ago, the women realised how important healthy food was to the well-being of their children. Outback Stores has travelled the whole journey with them.

This proud community of Warlpiri and Anmatyerr Aboriginal people ranks as one of the largest remote communities in Central Australia with a population close to 800 people.

Aboriginal people here are collectively known as “Yappa.” Yuendumu has a vibrant group of Aboriginal artists and a strong history of top-level football (AFL) involvement.

The annual sports weekend is the longest running desert carnival in Central Australia with teams from all over the Northern Territory who attend this important event. Yuendumu lies 293 km northwest of Alice Springs on the Tanami Road on the edge of the Tanami desert and is sometimes cut off from its nearest town Alice Springs when flooding occurs in the wet season.

When the ‘Old Ladies’ of the Women’s Centre decided to build a store, to meet the health needs of their children and grandchildren, they came to Outback Stores. Our team assisted with a financial loan and project management skills to help build an improvised store in the abandoned health clinic.

The tiny store was quickly built in the old clinic; it traded well and was strongly supported by the community. The clinic was not an ideal building for the store, however, the women were adamant that Yappa must have a store that could provide good healthy food to their families at a reasonable cost. By working in partnership with Outback Stores they succeeded with the first step of their journey.

Image: The directors of Nguru-Walaja Store.

Very quickly the women repaid their loan using the profits from their store. The community could see the strength in sustainable business. With regular financial reporting, they watched as their money grew. They continued to make good decisions on how to disperse profits to their community and to save money for their next step.

Additional financial support was provided from the Aboriginal Benefits Account to build a new supermarket. In conjunction with Outback Stores, the Women built a new store in 2015.

The store at the old clinic had done its job; now the community had a new supermarket under the watchful eye of the Yappa women and in partnership with Outback Stores.

As Outback Stores looks back on 10 years of remote retailing they see the importance of building trust with their clients; of achieving dreams together.

Acknowledging the work of committed managers Frank Lomas and Fay Coleman who stayed 4 years at Yuendumu to see the new supermarket open its doors; listening to Yappa women and meeting their expectations and health priorities; Outback Stores retail managers have built a long and healthy partnership with the people of Yuendumu.

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