AUSTRALIA: Elders Without Food or Power
DARWIN -- Elderly residents from a remote Aboriginal community have no money for food or electricity because their pension cheques failed to arrive in the mail, a local store worker says.
More than 100 people from Yuendumu, about 270km northwest of Alice Springs, yesterday discovered their payments had not been included in the regular Thursday post.
The next delivery service does not arrive until Monday.
"They were quite distressed when they found out there were no cheques," said Michelle Thomas, assistant manager at the local community store.
"They were saying we want tucker, we´re hungry, but there´s no money."
Ms Thomas said the community operated on a power credit system for electricity and if people ran out they bought another power ticket.
"It´s likely at least some of them will run out of electricity over the weekend but they won´t have any money to buy more," she said.
Ms Thomas said it was not the first time pension cheques had failed to arrive in Yuendumu and she believed it was probably a Centrelink "slip-up" that was unrelated to the federal intervention.
Residents of Yuendumu are yet to be subjected to welfare quarantining, which is being rolled out across the Northern Territory as part of the radical reforms to combat child sex abuse.
"Sometimes we have the odd person miss out on their payments but I´ve never known an occasion where not one has arrived in the mail," Ms Thomas said, adding that the store was reluctant to assist people given the current political climate.
"Everything is up in the air at the moment with the intervention and we don´t want to give out credit because we don´t know what´s happening."
Ms Thomas said she had a signed statement from community elders that said: "Elderly people will have to wait four days before they can buy basic essentials such as food and electricity."
It was reported last month that the federal government would subsidise a new store in Yuendumu after the Aboriginal-controlled shop was allegedly run into the ground through a series of unpaid loans to community members.
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Published by: Liv Inger Somby