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New community store for Jilkminggan
A new community store for Jilkminggan means much more for locals than just a wider range of goods for sale.
Jilkminggan, a community of around 300 people 140km southeast of Katherine in the Northern Territory, has long endured high unemployment rates and an old, inefficient community store. So when funding was made available under the Australian Government’s Aboriginals Benefit Account Stores Infrastructure Project to upgrade a local unused building into a new community store, locals were excited.
Jilkminggan’s former store was a converted small tin shed with old and inefficient equipment, no kitchen and inadequate staff facilities. The new store however promises a better layout, including a larger retail area, more refrigeration for fresh fruit and vegetables and a bigger cold store.
But the new community store, owned by Dungalan Aboriginal Corporation, doesn’t just mean a better shopping experience, as construction jobs became available for locals looking for employment.
Local men Harry Albert and Stuart Yunupingu gained work on the construction site while Matty Conway, a permanent employee with construction company Ngarda Civil and Mining, returned home to work on the project and act as a mentor for Harry and Stuart.
Matty, Harry and Stuart have worked as a team on various parts of the project, including concreting, installing walls and fittings for the cool room, and working on the new store room, retail area and kitchen fit-out. So impressed were Ngarda management that Harry and Stuart were offered permanent employment but, while both are considering the offer, this would mean long periods away from the community and their families.
“I have young children so I cannot travel for work on other building projects around Australia, but I would be very keen to gain employment in the new store,” Stuart said.
All three men are very proud to have been part of the construction project, and the community is proud that locals were so heavily involved in the construction. Everyone in the community is looking forward to shopping in the new store.