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Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Food Security in Remote Indigenous Communities

Good nutrition is essential to good health and a strong future

Food Security means having access to a range of food and drinks that are reasonably priced, safe and meet the nutritional needs of the household.

The Australian Government continues to improve the availability of fresh and healthy food in community stores in remote Indigenous communities.  We also want to help make sure community stores are sustainable, so we work with stores on planning and governance.

In the Northern Territory this work is being done through Community Stores Licensing.

Across Australia we work in partnership with Outback Stores.

Community Stores Licensing - Northern Territory

The licensing of community stores began in 2007 and there are now more than 100 stores that are licensed.

What does licensing of a community store mean?

Licensing means the Australian Government sets standards that stores need to meet to help make sure they have fresh and healthy food available and can stay operating for a long time.  Licensed community stores need to:

  • Have good quality, healthy food available including fresh fruit and vegetables;
  • Be a safe, clean place for people to shop; and
  • Meet standards for how the store should run and how things should be sold.

Consultation with the community and store owners is a key part of this process.

Where does licensing apply?

The areas where licensing applies is called the Food Security Area. Licensing applies to all of the Northern Territory except for Darwin and Palmerston, and the regional centres of Katherine, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs and Nhulunbuy.

Licensing is not needed in larger towns and cities because there is enough competition between stores and a variety of food, drink and grocery outlets so people can choose where they shop. 

A community store may have to be licensed if it is in the Food Security Area and is an important source of food, drink or grocery items for an Indigenous community.

The local community is also consulted before deciding if a store must be licensed. 

What if my store is not in the Northern Territory?

The Community Stores Licensing Scheme only applies in the Northern Territory. If you would like support for your store and it is outside of the Northern Territory, you can contact:

How can I find out more?

If you would like more information you can visit:

Outback Stores

Outback Stores Pty Ltd (OBS) is a wholly owned and independent Commonwealth Company created under the Corporations Act 2001. Its operations are governed by a Company Constitution and an independent board of directors who are appointed by the Commonwealth. As a Commonwealth Company OBS must meet the requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). The OBS board is responsible for the strategic direction of the Company. The Chief Executive officer, who is appointed by the Board, is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Company. OBS is an Indigenous Portfolio Body in the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PMC) portfolio. To improve outcomes for Indigenous Australians the NIAA collaborates with all Indigenous Portfolio Bodies in the PMC portfolio, including Outback Stores.

OBS was established in November 2006 and emerged from a need to improve the health of Indigenous people in remote Australia. Its purpose is to improve access to healthy foods for Indigenous people in remote Australia. OBS provides retail store management and support services on a fee for service basis to Aboriginal owned community stores and works closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in a holistic way to improve health, nutrition, employment, training and economic outcomes for first our Australians.

OBS strives to enable and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to live healthy and prosperous lives and work towards Closing the Gap. OBS does not receive any of the profits from the stores it manages on behalf of the community. Any store profits belong to the storeowner. For further information, including locations, please visit Outback Stores.

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