Through a powerful partnership Sodexo, a world leader in quality of life services, and Ashburton Aboriginal Corporation (AAC), have launched Yurrama Water, Indigenous bottled water.

AAC, developer of Yurrama Water, are dedicated to identifying and creating culturally safe and appropriate employment, education and training for Aboriginal people in the Pilbara.

Drawn from and bottled in WA, Yurrama Water launched on February 18 and produces 600mL and 1.5L bottles.

Yurrama is an Aboriginal term for a small soak dug near dry, stagnant or contaminated water source. The sand in the soil is a filter that creates drinking water.

Aboriginal people have passed down the knowledge of Yurrama digging to access water sources in harsh landscapes.

Sodexo Australia’s General Manager of Indigenous and Community Engagement, Sean Armistead, said Yurrama Water will now be supplied to all of Sodexo’s Western Australian mine sites.

“It’s not 38 shops, it’s 38 sites. There are multiple retail outlets on those, and as you know, we chew through a lot of food and beverage products, so it is high volume, they are high volume sites with high demand,” Armistead said.

Bottled water at the Yurrama Water warehouse. Photo supplied.

Bringing Yurrama Water into these sites, will bring a touch of familiarity and comfort for those employed.

“For the workers on site, a lot of our FIFO workers are WA based so they love to see the support of a WA business that is creating the product in WA [and] is being bottled in WA,” Armistead said.

“We have a lot of Aboriginal employees as well. It is good to … support Indigenous business.”

“That is one of the ways we can change mindsets too, the more you see an Indigenous product, the more you have someone who is not Indigenous seeing a different view of Indigenous people, what they do and what they engage in.”

Aligning with ACC’s principle aim, profits from the bottled water will fund Aboriginal youth employment in the Pilbara and encourage increases in employment opportunities for Aboriginal peoples.

“Through the various enterprises that have been established by AAC, like Yurrama Water, we’ve seen many Indigenous people begin to find their place in corporate Australia. Sodexo provided the business partnership needed for Yurrama Water to become commercially viable,” said AAC Director, Gayden Carey.

“An important focus for us as a business is to build long-term business connections that produce sustainable outcomes. We know that through supporting Yurrama Water and, more broadly, creating a partnership with AAC, Sodexo is enabling an increase in Indigenous employment and spend,” added Armistead.

Sodexo has made it their mission to support Indigenous-owned businesses, increasing their spending from $9 million in 2018 to $21 million in 2019.

Half of this spending is with businesses in regional or remote communities.

“Fifty percent are regional and remote businesses meaning the dollar bounces around the community further. The other part, when you talk about this, we want to not only buy Aboriginal-owned business products, but where we can we will facilitate and assist,” Armistead said.

By Rachael Knowles