Dan Murphy’s parent company Endeavour Group has confirmed that the retailer is planning to move the site of its proposed store in Darwin following community feedback.
The news was revealed in a statement released to the press, with the group stating that the new store site is still in the intended precinct, but at greater distance from the dry Aboriginal communities.
“The new site is further away from local Indigenous communities, and we believe the change will help to alleviate some of the key concerns,” said Shane Tremble, General Manager Corporate Service for Endeavour Group.
“We have spent a lot of time having meaningful conversations with local communities to understand their views, listen to any concerns they may have and to address them,” he added.
The company says they have been working closely with the Elders and leaders of both the Minmarama and Kulaluk communities and "have committed to a number of measures that we believe will mitigate the risk of alcohol related harm". Their statement claims both of these communities have expressed their support for the revised application, however nothing has been released directly from the communities.
Aboriginal health groups have voiced their opposition to the revised store site, saying it is still "within walking distance" of three Aboriginal communities, as it is only one kilometre further away.
Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT CEO John Paterson, and Olga Havnen, from Darwin's Danila Dilba Health Service penned a letter to Gordon Cairns, chairman of Woolworths Group, which owns Endeavour Group.
Per ABC News, they said their organisations "do not support you putting one of the biggest bottle shops in Australia within walking distance of three dry Aboriginal communities".
It continued: "We do not support the current proposed location on Bagot Road and Osgood Drive, and we certainly do not support the new location which has only just been revealed."
It is not yet known if members of the Bagot community support the new proposed site.
The Woolworths Group is facing backlash for planning to build a Dan Murphy's superstore within walking distance of three dry Aboriginal communities in Darwin.
Moreover, the Northern Territory government is vowing to rush through legislation that will allow Endeavour Drinks, a subsidiary of the Woolworths Group, to build what would be one of the liquor franchise's largest stores in the country. Their application was rejected by an independent panel known as the Liquor Commission last September, a decision which is presently being appealed for a second time in front of an independent tribunal.
However, the new legislation, which ABC News reports the NT Parliament is today fast-tracking to allow for a fresh decision on the application, sidesteps both of those bodies, with the bill also dropping requirements to consider the "community impact" of the store.
Community leaders and organisations have released an open letter asking Woolworths, which is a partner in NAIDOC Week this year, to cease its plans to build the enormous store close to the three dry Aboriginal communities, where alcohol is prohibited.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and community organisations have made it clear that we don’t want Woolworths here, pushing their cheap grog on our people. The absolute hypocrisy of Woolworths taking this action, while being a partner of NAIDOC Week, is almost unbelievable," said John Paterson, CEO of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT).
“Corporations do not make decisions, people make decisions and Directors need to face up to the impact this will have on the lives of children and families. Woolworths has been fighting for five years to build this alcohol superstore despite knowing the harm it will cause," said Caterina Giorgi, CEO of the Foundation of Alcohol Research and Education (FARE).
“By ignoring the community’s voice and the clear advice from the Independent Liquor Commission, Woolworths Directors are shamelessly putting their profits ahead of the health and wellbeing of the community.”
FARE is taking the open letter to Woolworth's board, asking the following question:
"Today we’re bringing you an open letter from community, health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations asking you to put aside the ill-considered and harmful plan to build one of the biggest bottle shops in the country in Darwin within walking distance of three dry Aboriginal communities. The Independent Liquor Commission rejected your application because of the harm it will cause. Will you abandon your plans to build this Dan Murphy’s?"
Per FARE, the NT Government "has a five-year moratorium on new liquor licences. To get around that law Woolworths applied to transfer the licence of a small BWS store near the centre of Darwin, to the proposed Dan Murphy’s, which, if built will be 48 times the size."
The open letter follows a change.org petition that has amassed over 110,000 signatures, with the story spreading quickly on social media. On November 11, photographer and Bangarra Dance Theatre alum Luke Currie-Richardson shared a video to his 16.5k followers on Instagram to draw attention to the unacceptable legislation (watch above).
"Quick video, well I hope it's quick, to highlight some injustices in a week when we're supposed to be celebrating," he says in the video.
"It's come to my attention that in the Northern Territory, Woolworths Group, Dan Murphy's, are pushing, after a five-year battle, to build one of the biggest Dan Murphy's in the vicinity of three dry communities. This is a huge problem, people."
He continued: "During all the media attention on the U.S. election, they've snuck [sic] behind the curtains and doing this little deal with the NT Government, the Labour Government there, and they're doing their thing behind closed doors. The biggest disappointment here is that Woolworths is a sponsor of NAIDOC week, via the posters."
He then urged people to sign the petition, calling on his followers to "do your thing" and "bring awareness to the story" and utilisng "people power" to make a "mind blowing" impact on those communities, where the elders have been fighting for five years.
You can show your support by signing the petition, here.