Women’s Health Goulburn North East (WHGNE) recently contributed to the CSIRO’s Transforming Australian Food Systems discussion paper as part of our work in advocating for sustainable, equitable and local food systems to combat food insecurity.
We did so because we believe that equitable access to sustainable and nutritious food MUST be the top priority of the Australian Food Systems Roadmap, which is currently under development.
Food security refers to a person’s ‘physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for and active and healthy life’ (World Bank 2023). When people cannot meet these requirements, they become ‘food insecure.’
Improved food security can ONLY be achieved by addressing the social determinants of diet-related health inequities. The barriers to food security are numerous and complex. They can involve economic factors, social and cultural factors, and political factors.
We believe government, industry, and communities should work together to increase the adoption rate of more sustainable and nutritious diets. Critically we should use the following approaches to make it happen:
WHGNE also recommends that the Australian Government considers implementing social justice based welfare and public service benefits such as a Universal Basic Income (UBI) and Universal Basic Services (UBS), both of which could help ensure more equitable access to Australian food systems and increase the rates of food security.
The health and wellbeing of regional and rural women and their families has been particularly impacted by the rising cost of living, increasingly frequent climate-based emergencies and growing inequity; all of which prohibit them from achieving food security.
In 2022, Foodbank reported that 65% of Australia’s single-parent households with dependent children aged under 18 experienced food insecurity. Because 79% of single-parent households in the country are headed by women, this experience of food insecurity is highly gendered.
The gendered experiences of food insecurity are compounded by other factors such as living situation, employment status, disability or carer status, economic security, indigeneity and racism, and geography.
Regional and remote Indigenous communities are especially suspectable to food insecurity. They are often left with minimal food choices and limited access to expensive fresh foods. In 2021, Foodbank reported that 77% of young First Nations families living in regional and remote areas experience food insecurity.
Access to sustainable and nutritious food is a basic human right. Systemic and cultural change is required before every person in every community can experience food security.
You can view a copy of our full submission to the CSIRO here.