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Dharriwaa Elders Group Incorporated

Food and Water Appeal

Walgett's only supermarket, Supa IGA, burnt to the ground Wednesday 5 June 2019. Dharriwaa Elders Group (DEG) is receiving enquiries as to the best way for food and water to donated to the needy in the Walgett community. In the days after the fire, DEG staff and Elders Councillors became increasingly concerned about how those in the community who can only buy food from day to day, and are unable to travel to neighbouring communities to shop, will be assisted by the arrangements being made for phone ordering and delivery.

Over the June long weekend, DEG staff received food and grocery donations that began arriving in response to the emergency. Staff determined the households in the community in most need, and worked hard to deliver to them the donated goods. This exercise helped us understand the food needs of our community's most vulnerable. The DEG's Elders Council in its meeting today 12 June 2019, determined that due to the organisation's limited resources, DEG will not provide transport out of town specifically for grocery shopping, and will not provide daily meals. If staff and budget levels increase, this may change.

Since Walgett's drinking water has been 100% sourced from the Great Artesian Basin (ie when the Namoi River was allowed to run dry at Walgett), DEG has been working through its Yuwaya Ngarra-li partnership with the University of NSW, to pursuade the NSW Government to provide a town desalination system and high quality chilled drinking water kiosks in high use public areas. Walgett's need for safe drinking water has so far not been addressed, and the community is relying on deliveries of packaged water from donations transported by individuals and on one occasion, the NSW Government. Walgett has been promised packaged water deliveries by the NSW Government, and long term drinking water security. Dharriwaa Elders Group during this time has engaged casual employees to deliver water to Elders' homes that has been provided through donations, and stored by Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service which has also worked hard in response to this important public health concern. There has never been enough packaged water delivered for the whole community, and those who could afford to have been buying water from Walgett's IGA. Now the supermarket has burnt down, this drinking water supply is no longer available.

Donations received will be spent on food and grocery staples including drinking water. DEG staff and volunteers will order, package and distribute these goods to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Walgett households that DEG deems need them most.

Update 15 August 2021: We bought and delivered 15L water containers before the end of June 2021 with the last of monies raised from this appeal. Despite NSW Govt installing a reverse osmosis system at Walgett's water treatment plant it has been mothballed because installation was not fit for purpose. We are advocating to support Council to make it fit for purpose with the help of governments. Currently we are drinking river water. Residents prefer bottled water if they can afford it, until a community education campaign proves that the water is good to drink.

We are proud to announce that our Food and Water for Life Program has just recruited a co-ordinator role. With our partners Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service and The George Institute and Global Water Institute through our Yuwaya Ngarrali partnership with UNSW they will be working to develop the sustainability and productivity of the WAMS Community Garden, a Healthy Supermarket promotion program.

If donors choose to continue making donations to this appeal, funds raised will continue to be devoted to "food and grocery staples including drinking water. DEG staff and volunteers will order, package and distribute these goods to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Walgett households that DEG deems need them most".


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47 Fox St


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