The development and implementation of the Mai Wiru (Good Food) Stores Policy is based on the belief that a community development model of working is the preferred way to introduce positive and sustainable social and health changes in remote Aboriginal communities.
The policy was developed through widespread community consultation over several years and a participatory planning process involving all communities on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara/Yangkuntjatjara Lands. This has resulted in the nine Anangu communities on the APY Lands maintaining ownership of their local stores while implementing an Anangu-owned regional health policy to improve nutrition across the region.
The emphasis of Mai Wiru has always been on improving people’s health as opposed to the traditional goal of store operations of maximising profit.
Nganampa Health Council was recruited to coordinate the implementation of the policy and established a Stores Policy Support Unit within its Environmental and Public Health Section.
Under a MOU with the community store governing councils the Unit carries out functions and activities on their behalf. Currently the MOU identifies seven areas of the Unit’s responsibilities:
There are many issues to address, and difficulties to overcome, in addition to those unique to remote Aboriginal communities in Central Australia, implementing health policy change in the retail market sector under a community development model.
- negotiation of a system for the bulk purchasing of supplies (preferred suppliers) and negotiation of a coordinated freight system
- standardisation of stores management systems and practices
- human resource management
- coordination of public health nutrition
- development and negotiation of a subsidy on identified food, health consumables and health hardware items
- coordination and standardisation of training
- formalise the governance, structure and function of the Stores Support Unit, in consultation with APY Council, communities and regional community-controlled organisations.
The Mai Wiru Stores Policy was the National Overall Winner and National Category Winner of the Heart Foundation Kellogg Local Government Awards for 2007.
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