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Kirriri (Hammond) Island mini-mart joins IBIS store network in Torres Strait

[by Gavin Broomhead]


Image: supplied

A six year-long journey has reached its pinnacle with Kirriri (Hammond) Island’s only convenience store now transitioned into a Community Enterprise Queensland (CEQ) IBIS supermarket, joining CEQ’s IBIS store network across the Torres Strait.


In 2002, the Kirriri community council gave an opportunity to local resident Mario Sabatino to operate the island store as a small business start-up, which he has since done successfully. However, as a community-run convenience store, Mr Sabatino was limited in the product range and buying power he was able to deliver to Kirriri residents.


Now after six years of planning and a collaborative effort between the local community, CEQ and Mr Sabatino, M&S Mini Mart has transformed into an IBIS store.


"This journey started with a resolution from Torres Strait Island Regional Council (TSIRC) in 2017, and now it's an amazing reality," said Mr Sabatino.


"We've worked hard over the years in calling for the presence of IBIS to be established on Kirriri, and I’m delighted to be able to hand over the reigns to CEQ.”


Kirriri residents led a community petition for an IBIS store, which was sent directly to the CEQ Board and to Craig Crawford MP, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships.


“This change is all about making things better for the whole community,” said Mr Sabatino.


“A strong petition from community members really made a difference and demonstrated the community need for an IBIS store.”


CEQ Chief Executive Officer Michael Dykes said his organisation had secured a lease on the store until 2044, promising long-term support for the community.


"This change shows how much we care about communities, with both our past and present Boards supporting this idea wholeheartedly,” he said.


"It’s a game-changer for the local community and will change lives for the better. “Residents will now have access to a greater range, IBIS price points, and easier access to items for their pantries, freezers and chillers.


“No longer will families face hardships like multiple shopping trips or braving harsh weather conditions.


“The CEQ IBIS store means accessibility and convenience for everyone.


“It's a big step towards making sure everyone in the community is taken care of and is another example of CEQ delivering on its vision of caring, every day, always.”


Mr Dykes said current Kirriri store team members will be retained as part of the seamless transition, including popular long-term employee Beauty Pearson.


CEQ is a not-for-profit organisation responsible for providing goods and essential services to the Torres Strait, Northern Peninsula Area (NPA), mainland Aboriginal remote communities, and Palm Island through its now 29 stores. CEQ manages Islanders Board of Industry and Service (IBIS) and Aboriginal Business, Industry and Service (ABIS) stores, as well as other stores including Col Jones, Mona’s Bazaar and Mitre 10 on Thursday Island.



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