Improving food security in Aboriginal communities
This project sought to better understand the inherent factors contributing to food insecurity among Aboriginal communities.
As many as one in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in non-remote environments live in a household that has run out of food and could not afford to buy more at some point within the past 12 months.
A systems perspective on the prevention of chronic disease for urban Aboriginal communities: Improving food securityProject title
What is food insecurity, and why is it a health issue?
Food insecurity is a serious challenge facing Aboriginal communities in Australia. As many as one in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in non-remote environments live in a household that has run out of food and could not afford to buy more at some point within the past 12 months. Food insecurity is associated with general poor health, and contributes to health inequalities that are apparent in Aboriginal populations such as a higher mortality rate, and higher rates of diet-related chronic disease.
How did this project addressing food insecurity in Aboriginal communities?
The project was embedded within the Study of Environment on Aboriginal Resilience and Child Health (SEARCH), which is a partnership between the Sax Institute, Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council, researchers and four Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) in NSW.
The project sought to better understand the systemic factors contributing to food insecurity among Aboriginal communities and to identify barriers and potential areas for whole-of-system interventions to tackle food security in two urban Aboriginal communities linked to ACCHSs participating in the SEARCH program.
The research was conducted in four parts:
- Using semi-structured qualitative interviews, the project explored the perspectives, knowledge, beliefs and experiences of the Aboriginal community including families, leaders and staff at the ACCHSs as well as that of a range of stakeholders in local council, government and NGOs in the health, education, planning and food safety sectors and food industry partners on food insecurity, the factors that influence it and potential strategies for intervention
- Facilitated a group model building exercise with a range of stakeholders from local government and other partners to develop a comprehensive, multi-strategic, multi-sectoral whole of system approach to tackling food security
- Facilitated the development of a draft food security framework using the recommendations for the strengthening of local food systems that identifies important strategies, determinants and points of intervention
- Developed a strategic implementation plan that incorporates potential new activities into local policies, plans and programs to promote an ongoing structure for inter-sectoral leadership and action.
What were the results?
The framework and guidelines were expected to lead to opportunities for local action to improve food security. This will lead to actions that will support equitable food systems and the supply of nutritious food, and thereby reduce the burden of obesity and chronic disease in this population.
Relevance for practice
Information and data gathered through this project will be used to create a food security framework for implementation in urban Aboriginal settings. The project will also foster effective partnerships between government organisations and other agencies to improve the coordination of food security initiatives.
News and media
Healthy diets in a time of food insecurity and rising cost of livingNews Category: Prevention Centre NewsDate
Aboriginal communities find simple solutions to food insecurityNews Category: Prevention Centre NewsDate
Improving food security and nutrition in Aboriginal communitiesNews Category: Prevention Centre NewsDate
Focus on the food system not the individual, experts urgeNews Category: Prevention Centre NewsDate
- Lee A, Ride K. Review of nutrition among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet. 2018;18(1). Available from: www.healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au/health-risks/nutrition/reviews/our-review
- Sherriff, S. Muthayya, S. A systems approach to improving food security among urban Aboriginal communities, Centre for Kidney Research Aboriginal Health Meeting, 30 August 2018.
- Sherriff, S. Cutmore, M. A systems approach to improving food security among urban Aboriginal communities, Graduate Diploma Indigenous Health Promotion University of Sydney course, 19 October 2018.
- Muthayya, S. Presentation to Food Security Parliamentary Select Committee, 22 June 2018.
- Muthayya, S. Sherriff, S. A systems approach to improving food security among urban Aboriginal communities, 6th Annual NHMRC Symposium on Research Translation, co-hosted by the Lowitja Institute, Brisbane, 14-15 November 2017.
- Muthayya, S. A systems approach to improving food security among urban Aboriginal communities, TAPPC Chief Investigators’ Forum, Sydney, 6 November 2017.
- Sherriff, S. Kalucy, D. Muthayya S. A systems approach to improving food security among urban Aboriginal communities, TAPPC Nutrition Group Workshop, Sydney, 3 August 2017.
- Muthayya, S. Sherriff, S.A systems perspective on the prevention of chronic disease for urban Aboriginal communities: Improving food security, Baker IDI Research Network Meeting, 23 May 2017.
Deanna KalucyThe Sax Institute
Professor Amanda LeeUniversity of Queensland
Janice NixonThe Sax Institute
Simone SherriffThe Sax Institute
Stephanie Terry Stephanie Terry has finished working with the Prevention Centre.Riverina Medical and Dental Aboriginal Corporation