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Many Australians living in urban or regional centres can duck out to their neighbourhood grocery store, supermarket or produce market whenever they want fresh, high-quality and affordable food.
However, for the past two years the 400-plus residents of the WA town of Laverton haven’t been so lucky. The temporary closure of the town’s supermarket has meant either a150-kilometre trip to a grocery store in Leonora, or a four-hour drive to the closest major supermarket in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
IBA is committed to closing the gap between the living standards of Indigenous and other Australians. Through our Investments Program, we seek out investments that provide financial and economic development outcomes and, wherever possible, broader social and cultural benefits for our Indigenous partners and local communities. Investing in retail stores, in particular, offers opportunities to provide communities with food security, and families with access to nutritious, reasonably priced produce.
Giving people access to a choice of healthy, high-quality produce is crucial in reducing the high rates of infant mortality and preventable, diet-related illnesses – such as diabetes and renal and heart disease – that are prevalent in remote Indigenous communities.
Having acquired the Laverton Supermarket in July 2013 through its Goldfields-based investment vehicle (the Leonora Investments Trust), IBA entered into a partnership with local and state governments to refurbish the property. The renovations – which included extensive electrical repairs and the upgrading of fittings, fixtures and refrigeration – were funded by equity capital from IBA and grants from the Western Australian Government and the Laverton Shire Council.
In August 2013, the store reopened, bringing smiles to the faces of local (and not so local) residents of the Goldfields-Esperance region.
Regional Merchandising Solutions is managing the Laverton Supermarket. The company specialises in managing remote community stores, and is currently running IBA’s Leonora Supermarket. To maximise the social and health benefits of the investment, food pricing policies will be structured to encourage shoppers to make healthy food choices.
Wangkatha Elder Shaneane Weldon delivered the Welcome to Country and said she believed the reopening and the accompanying smoking ceremony marked a healing of the past and a new beginning for the township.
In addition to promoting positive health and social outcomes, investing in well-managed retail stores with stable ownership can assist members of local and surrounding Indigenous communities to find jobs, and access training and development opportunities.
Since the reopening, four local Indigenous residents have been employed at the supermarket, and IBA is exploring further training and development opportunities to benefit the local Indigenous community.
Find out more about IBA’s Investments Program.