Outback Stores has been awarded a three-year management agreement to manage Mornington Island’s only grocery and takeaway store.
The store is in the town of Gununa on Mornington Island, the largest of the North Wellesley Islands in the Gulf of Carpentaria, 125 kilometres north-west of Burke and 444 kilometres from Mt Isa.
The community of about 1000, of which roughly 80 per cent are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, is serviced by five weekly flights from Mount Isa and Cairns and a weekly barge freight service.
Roxanne Thomas, Deputy Chairperson of Gununamanda Limited, said Outback Stores had been awarded the agreement to manage the store and lift standards after a select tender process was conducted.
“Outback Stores was selected as the successful tenderer due to its retail expertise and successful track record over the last 15 years in assisting remote communities. They operate as a not-for-profit, provide a range of support services and return all profits to the community.”
Michael Borg, CEO of Outback Stores, said they have spent quality time with the directors to come to an agreement that suits their business.
“Our priority will be to get the Mornington Island store back on its feet, ensure people have access to healthy food and provide a good range of produce at affordable prices. In particular, we will look at reducing prices on staples such as milk, bread, potatoes, and carrots.”
The Mornington store has operated since 1974 but experienced financial issues due to inexperienced management that was in place prior to November 2022.
The Queensland Department of Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Partnerships appointed advisory firm Grant Thornton to work with Gununamanda’s directors to restructure the store and ensure food security for the community. Outback Stores was selected on 17 August and commenced management this week.
“The new store manager, Andy Sandercock, and local team are on the ground. They have rolled up their sleeves and look forward to working in partnership with the directors of the store,” said Borg.
Outback Stores was founded in 2006 to improve the health of Indigenous Australians living in remote Australia by addressing nutrition-related health problems, unreliable food supplies and poor management practices associated with many remote stores. The company operates 52 stores in the Northern Territory, South Australia, Western Australia, New South Wales and now Queensland.