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Indigenous groups slam Woolworths over ‘harmful’ Dan Murphy’s megastore in Darwin

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Dozens of Indigenous community groups have again called on Woolworths to abandon its plan to open a Dan Murphy’s megastore in Darwin.

They’ve also slammed the giant food retailer’s claim that it had worked closely with Minmarama and Kulaluk leaders over the proposed site.

Woolworths chairman Gordon Cairns Is seen during the Woolworths Group Limited Annual General Meeting.

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“Woolworths hasn’t consulted with the community,” Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory chief executive John Paterson said.

“They haven’t come to the peak organisations, like AMSANT, the peak body that represents the health and well-being of Aboriginal Territorians.

“We don’t need more alcohol-related violence in our community. We don’t need more domestic and family violence, and we don’t need more Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.”

Mr Paterson was one of 45 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and health organisation leaders who penned a second open letter to Woolworths chairman Gordon Cairns, urging him to cancel plans for the liquor store.

“This is our home. The people whose lives your bottle shop threatens are our loved ones — our families, friends and neighbours,” the letter said.

“We have been working together to create a stronger, healthier and more resilient community.

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“Would you really undermine all that for the sake of extra profit?”

Dan Murphy’s parent company Endeavour Group, which is owned by the Woolworths Group, has previously said it had worked with community elders and agreed on measures to lower the risk of alcohol-related harm.

It also agreed to move the bottle store 1.3 kilometres further away from three nearby dry Indigenous communities.

“The new site is further away from the communities and we believe the change will help to alleviate some of the key concerns,” corporate service manager Shane Tremble said in a statement.

But Northern Territory Council of Social Services chief executive Deborah Di Natale says many of Darwin’s community groups are already running at full capacity.

“The site is completely irrelevant,” she said.

“They are rightly concerned about their ability to meet the increase in demand of their service that will flow from a Dan Murphy’s megastore – the increased domestic violence, the increased assaults and the increased hospital admissions.”

The community groups have also taken aim at the NT government, which passed legislation to fast-track bottle shop applications following intense lobbying by Woolworths.

The NT Director of Liquor Licensing now has until 20 December to decide whether to approve the application to build the store, which would be one of the biggest bottle shops in the country.

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It comes after the NT Independent Liquor Commission rejected Endeavour Group’s application in September last year.

More than 130,000 people have signed a petition to “keep grog out of our communities” and ban the Dan Murphy’s superstore.

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