The Aboriginal Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Limited (ABC Foundation) has collaborated with community-based partners in Western Australia’s Gascoyne and Midwest regions to deliver emergency relief in the midst of COVID-19 restrictions.

Previous to COVID-19, Carnarvon and Meekatharra had been identified by West Australian Council of Social Services (WACOSS) as areas of high food stress; stress which quickly increased with the advent of COVID-19.

The ABC Foundation’s strategy, On-Country Care, aims to improve food security, health care and housing for those living in Gascoyne and Midwest communities.

Launching in July, On-Country Care is delivered in collaboration with community-based organisations including:

  • Bundiyarra Aboriginal Community Aboriginal Corporation
  • Mungullah Community Aboriginal Corporation
  • Yulella Aboriginal Corporation
  • Midwest Employment and Economic Development Aboriginal Corporation
  • Mission Australia.

“[The ABC Foundation] sees themselves as a collaborating organisation; being in the space we are in, we never wanted to be a new not-for-profit becoming another service provider,” said ABC Foundation CEO, Alison Sentance.

“We used what our focus was, which was creating economic opportunities for Aboriginal people on Country, and looked at the Aboriginal organisations in the spaces we work in and how [we can] assist them.”

“[We looked at how] we pull all of our resources together to determine the gap to deliver an effective On-Country care strategy.”

The ABC Foundation’s contribution to On-Country includes the extension of their food relief program, Food for the Mob. The program is made possible through donations from Foodbank and SecondBite. The program extension will deliver 26,000 free hot meals over a six month period along with access to healthy, affordable meals.

Sentance estimates the cost of On-Country Care to be around $600,000. However, with the collaboration between organisations and the pooling of resources, the team has only applied for a $200,000 grant.

“We have asked for just over $200,000 as it is about … the gap. What can we already use that we have? Let’s work out what the gap is, which is the cost of buying extra food products, the cost of a bit of project management and a couple of extra cooks and let’s get the job done,” she said.

The CEO said whilst much of the emergency relief funding has been dedicated to remote communities, regional areas are missing out.

“One of the things with the strategy that we realised very early on with COVID relief, was that a lot of things were getting targeted at remote Aboriginal communities. Not to town-based communities,” Sentance said.

“What about people living in the towns where the majority of the population is? We made the program around that, around the 3,000-odd cohorts of people living on the fringes of towns, living within areas that are not getting any access to relief as they aren’t within a current targeted strategy.

“We are about gap filling and ensuring that those in need have a voice.”

To support the ABC Foundation’s On-Country Care strategy, please visit:

By Rachael Knowles