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Urgent action needed on food security

Red Cross joins coalition calling for action on food availability and affordability.

Tuesday November 29, 2016

Red Cross has joined with health and community organisations to call for urgent action to improve the availability and affordability of nutritious food for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The coalition includes the Dietitians Association of Australia, Indigenous Allied Health Australia, the National Heart Foundation of Australia, the Public Health Association of Australia and the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.

On Tuesday 29 November the coalition released a blueprint for improving food security at Parliament House in Canberra. Red Cross CEO Judy Slatyer joined other leaders to call for sustained action from all levels of government as well as non-government organisations to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on solutions.

Ms Slatyer said that some people in Australia can't get enough good nutritious food to eat. "People either can't afford to buy nutritious food, they can't get it where they live or don't have access to the facilities to prepare meals," said Ms Slatyer.

Latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show around one in four (23%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in a household that, over a 12-month period, had run out of food and could not afford to buy more - a figure six times higher than non-Indigenous Australians.

"Being able to eat regularly and well is essential for health and wellbeing," said Ms Slatyer. "It's critical for healthy development of children and for the long-term prevention of chronic diseases.

"Red Cross is working to turn these statistics around through our Strategy 2020. We have committed to helping improve the wellbeing of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by 20%," said Ms Slatyer.

Red Cross has been working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in remote communities on community based food and nutrition projects for more than a decade.

Red Cross work and projects include school breakfast clubs in remote communities; FoodREDI workshops teaching nutrition, cooking, shopping and budgeting skills; teaming up with Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation on Elcho Island to reduce malnutrition and anaemia in kids, and tackling food and nutrition issues through community development work in disadvantaged communities.

"We need to tackle the problem and coordinate action together," said Ms Slatyer. "Jointly we're calling for policy changes that make it easier for people to eat nutritious food."

Read the full policy and background paper.