Submission to inquiry into food pricing and food security in remote Indigenous communities

03 July 2020

SUMMARY

As the Committee has highlighted through this Inquiry, there continues to be significant barriers to addressing food security in remote Indigenous communities. This has been underlined by the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic and the vulnerability of remote Indigenous communities to supply chain interruptions.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities in Australia experience a disproportionate burden of chronic disease and there is clear evidence of the significant detrimental health effects of poor nutrition linking to a range of chronic diseases which affect life expectancy and overall community well-being. Food insecurity has adverse health and social effects from early childhood through all stages of life.

The key food security issue for remote Indigenous communities relates to access to affordable, high quality, nutritious food. There are many factors that influence food security which are explored in this submission, however, the high cost of fresh food relative to the low level of incomes in remote communities emerges as a significant factor.

It is clear that market forces alone cannot be relied upon to address food security issues in remote communities, and there is a role for government at the national, state/territory and local level to intervene in the market to ensure both demand and supply side issues are addressed.

Finally, locally-based solutions must be the result of outcomes designed and supported by communities in response to specific community circumstances and needs.