Apunipima Calls for Improved Food Security for Cape York

 In News

Apunipima is proud to announce the release of its Food Security Position Statement.

The Statement calls for national and state nutrition strategies, improved access to healthy food for the people of Cape York and increased investment in a Cape York nutrition workforce.

Population Health and Research Team Leader, Melinda Hammond, said poor nutrition on Cape York was a leading cause of preventable chronic disease and early death.

‘Try for five each day. It sounds simple but the barriers to Cape York people having five serves of vegies per day are formidable – challenges include low incomes, expensive food, lack of food due to seasonal road closures and lack of appropriate cooking and storage space.’

‘The rates of chronic disease and early death on Cape York are higher than in less remote parts of the state. This is due, in part, to sub-optimal diet.’

‘Apunipima’s seven point plan is a comprehensive approach to address food insecurity and poor nutrition in Cape York – if government is serious about Closing the Gap, they need to pay attention to nutrition as a key underlying determinant of health.’

The key actions required to improve food security are: 

Increase access: Immediately address food supply issues in communities that are impacted by the wet season, including completion of sealed roads, finding alternative ways to transport food, and arranging proactive emergency food relief.

Food subsidies: Implement a direct to consumer food subsidy scheme to address financial barriers and increase affordability and access to healthy food and drink in remote areas. The subsidy should be targeted to provide additional support for women, infants and children and the elderly to nurture future generations and protect the most vulnerable.

Local decision making: Support community driven decision making and solutions to address food insecurity and increase accessibility to healthy food and drink through locally developed food policy and regulation.

Increased investment: Increase government investment in a nutrition prevention workforce to implement healthy remote store practices, business and policy.

Work across sectors: Mobilise cross-sector efforts to create supportive environments for healthy eating in community based settings such as early childhood education and care, schools, sport and recreation facilities and councils.

Farming initiatives: Engage with appropriate groups such as primary industry, small business development and all levels of government to explore the feasibility of large scale local food production initiatives that have a solid economic foundation and strong business model.

Healthy Housing: Advocate for healthy housing initiatives that increase access to household food preparation and storage infrastructure.

Access Apunipima’s Food Security Position Statement here.

Melinda said the staggeringly high levels of chronic disease and obesity amongst the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Cape York were related back to lack of access to healthy food, food unaffordability (the combination of large families with low incomes living in places with high food prices), the need to develop, implement and review healthy food policies and the lack of investment in preventative health measures.

‘One of the key ingredients for a long and healthy life is a nutrient dense diet – not the energy dense diet that is common for low income families’ Melinda said.

‘There are key nutrition challenges in remote areas and we see this borne out in the life expectancy gap, anaemia in young children and the high levels of obesity and type 2 diabetes – now appearing in younger people.’

‘If we want to turn the health picture around for Cape York people, we need multi-agency buy in and we need to tackle these issues on a range of fronts – from working directly with consumers, councils and state and federal governments to changing the way we plan for, and provide food, to remote areas, especially during the Wet.’

‘We call on all stakeholders to engage with this strategy and identify, develop and implement solutions to this issue. We also call on the Australian government to commission a National Nutrition Strategy to underpin and guide our efforts to ensure food security on Cape York.’