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Bundiyarra distributing emergency relief and food packages to communities
The Covid-19 pandemic raised many issues for Aboriginal people – most importantly access to food. In response, a few Midwest Aboriginal service providers in Western Australia banded together to deliver emergency relief packages to those in need.
Bundiyarra Aboriginal Corporation joined forces with the Midwest Employment and Economic Development Aboriginal Corporation (MEEDAC) and the Aboriginal Biodiversity Conservation Foundation (ABC Foundation) to contribute resources. These included cleaning and sanitary products, and food donated through the ABC Foundation’s ‘Food for the Mob’ program. The program organised, packed and distributed the packages.
According to Wayne McDonald, Manager Operations of Bundiyarra, around 800 food and hygiene packages were delivered to regional and remote Aboriginal communities across the Midwest and Gascoyne. These were delivered in the early days of the pandemic in 2020. They helped to combat isolation and further disadvantage.
In August 2020, another vital service in Geraldton also began. This service provided meals to disadvantaged Aboriginal people – including the homeless, large families, people with disability and Elders during the pandemic.
Bundiyarra’s Jennifer Gregory-Kniveton coordinated the project. MEEDAC, Geraldton Aboriginal Streetwork Corporation (Streeties) and Bundiyarra delivered the meals to eligible people. Each partner organisation identified their own target group and delivered the meals to their Aboriginal clients over a period of 18 weeks. Meals were delivered the day before pay day to make sure people had access to a hot meal during this lean period. This is a time when most households run out of food.
Wayne McDonald, the Manager of Operations at Bundiyarra Corporation, reported that:
“The three organisations have had calls from Aboriginal people in critical need, people in lockdown where there are no shops, they are not allowed to leave their communities, and they are running low on cleaning products, hygiene needs and food … Everyone pulled together to get food and essentials out to all our mob in the region. Bundiyarra provided the logistics, assembling the packages, and delivering to some communities like Pia Wadjarri, Kardaloo and Barrel Well, while ABC coordinated the 700 km round trip with their community partners Yulella Aboriginal Corporation near Meekatharra and Mungullah Community Aboriginal Corporation near Carnarvon.”
This extraordinary collective impact was the result of local Aboriginal organisations getting on the front foot very quickly. They did this by partnering, coordinating logistics, and drawing in NGOs to provide the sustained and much-needed delivery of food and covid-safety products to Aboriginal families in the urban and remote communities of their region.1Lara Drieberg, Diane Smith and Dale Sutherland, Governing the pandemic: adaptive self-determination as an Indigenous capability in Australian organisations (Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research,
Research School of Social Sciences College of Arts & Social Sciences, The Australian National University: forthcoming).