The only grocery store in Welkania turns healthy food into a major priority for local employment

REDI.E, an Aboriginal training company, acquired ownership of a Wilcannia grocery store with the goal of promoting local employment and providing healthy food options to the community.

The training provider said Outback Stores, a Commonwealth-owned retail company that operates lifestyle-focused healthy food stores in remote Aboriginal communities, will now operate groceries.

The store, the only grocery in Welkania, was changed from IGA to REDI.E at 11am on Friday.

REDI.E’s general manager, Peter Gibbs, said that taking ownership of the store was the first time the training provider had entered into such an arrangement.

“We know that’s just what is needed for such an important community – it has gone through an international crisis. I think we all experienced it during the recent COVID outbreak.”

They’re also committed to hiring locals to the store, Gibbs said.

“Store management is the first thing we need to have and that’s why we signed up to Outback Stores to help us,” he said.

“Then we work with local people to find the right people for local jobs.”

“win-win”

Michael Kennedy, president of the local Aboriginal Lands Council in Welkania, said a lot of community members are excited about the grocery plans.

Besides potential job opportunities, healthier food and cheaper prices, he said there could be other benefits for the city if promises are kept.

Wellcania’s local Aboriginal Land Council says plans for the new property’s only grocery store in town are a welcome start to the year for the community.(ABC Broken Hill: Bill Ormond)

“A lot of people go to Broken Hill to do their shopping, but there are still quite a few people in the community who can’t get to Broken Hill to do their shopping for various reasons,” he said.

“If you can save $100 on fuel and get the same quality and close to the same price, that’s a win-win situation.”

With 2021 a rough time for Wellcania, with more than 20 percent of residents testing positive for COVID, Kennedy said plans around the new grocery store had a positive and welcome start to the year.

“There is a lot to look forward to this year for us here in Wellania, so it’s a positive start to the year so far.

“Hopefully we can continue on the positives.”

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