No sugar at festival is a sweet idea

Sugary drinks will be off the menu at the famous Barunga Festival, which runs from June 8-10 in the Top End.

Traditional owners of the local Bagala Community Store are taking a stand against sugar, which has been linked to a plethora of health problems from diabetes to obesity and some cancers.

They say Barunga Festival goers won’t find any sugary drinks on their shelves.

“Too much sugar is a bad thing (and) we have made this decision not only for our people, but for the people that come from all over to the Barunga Festival,” traditional owner and Bagala Store chairperson Esther Bulumbara said.

The owners have been supported in their decision by Outback Stores, LiveLighter and the Heart Foundation.

The NT community has a history of leading the way.

The store at Barunga, 80km south-east of Katherine, is owned by the Bagala Aboriginal Corporation and is the only fully Indigenous-owned and operated community store in the territory.

It opened in September after a push by local women who wanted good food at affordable prices.

Manager Amelita John said the sugary drinks ban was a positive move.

“This is a good thing for the festival and sends a strong message to other communities,” Ms John said.

This year’s Barunga festival marks the 30th anniversary of the Barunga Statement.

The statement was presented to former Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke and called for Aboriginal self-management, a national system of land rights, compensation for loss of lands, respect for Aboriginal identity, an end to discrimination, and the granting of full civil, economic, social and cultural rights.

The World Health Organisation recommends less than 13 teaspoons of sugar per day.

Wendy Caccetta

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