NACCHO Aboriginal health news :Leading organisations rally: Food security the missing link in ‘closing the gap’

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Leading health organisations, the Dietitians Association of Australia and the Public Health Association of Australia, have joined forces with Australian Red Cross to draw attention to the health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians, due to food insecurity.

Photo above supplied by BushWOK Alice Springs

The three organisations are releasing their ‘Food Security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ policy at Parliament House in Canberra today.

DOWNLOAD the POLICY DOCUMENT HERE

According to the organisations, one in four (24%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People report food insecurity, compared with just five per cent of non-Indigenous Australians an issue they say is not getting any better and needs urgent attention.

Public Health Association of Australia CEO Michael Moore said: ‘We’re calling on all levels of Government to address food insecurity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Many in this population group do not have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to lead a healthy and active life.

‘Factors such as poverty, low or inadequate incomes, poor housing, including basic set-ups to store and prepare food, and less access to nutritious food place these Australians at higher risk.’

Claire Hewat, CEO of the Dietitians Association of Australia, said the result is that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families go hungry, and that diet-related diseases run rife in this population.

‘Sadly, in this group of Australians, we see high rates of preventable diet-related diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease,’ said Ms Hewat.

She said nutrition needs to be a priority if the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is to improve.

According to Jennifer Evans, National Coordinator, Families Children and Food Security at Australian Red Cross, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people do not have an equal opportunity to be as healthy as non-Indigenous Australians, with poorer access to healthy food, primary health care and health infrastructure.

‘This is reflected in data showing life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is 11.5 years shorter for males and almost 10 years shorter for females, compared with other Australians,’ said Ms Evans.

The ‘Food Security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ policy highlights the need for all levels of government to take the lead in addressing food insecurity, working with non-government organisations and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

ENDS

Media contacts:

Michael Moore, CEO, Public Health Association of Australia: 0417 249731

Emma Jones, Communications and Marketing Cadet Dietitian, Dietitians Association of Australia: 0409 661920.

Antony Balmain, Communications and Media Adviser, Australian Red Cross: 0408 018609

Background

Food insecurity includes periods of prolonged hunger, or anxiety about getting food or having to rely on food relief.

The ‘Food Security for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ policy highlights:

  •  The unacceptable health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians, related to food insecurity.
  •  Government needs to take the primary role in developing targeted food and nutrition security policies and actions. A whole of government approach, linking in with relevant   agencies and partners, is needed.
  • Mapping and reporting is needed on food and nutrition security in Australia, with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  •  Future policies and policy actions to help achieve food and nutrition security need to involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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