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Food security and Indigenous mental health

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare


Food security is a fundamental human right recognised in international law. It has been identified as an objective in closing the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians. Food insecurity increases psychological distress and compromises physiological wellbeing.

This report looks at the extent of food insecurity affecting Indigenous Australians and its effect on mental health and wellbeing, as well as what is being done to address it. The reviewed evidence shows that colonisation has led to a loss of traditional food sources and dependence on highly processed European food, which contributes to a higher predisposition to chronic illness. The report provides a review of government-funded programs designed to address food security, with priority given to programs with published evaluation evidence. Food insecurity is exacerbated by factors such as remoteness, poverty and social disadvantage. To address this, government departments need to work together to improve availability, accessibility, utilisation, and stability of food supply. Remote stores have been shown to be effective at improving food security in remote areas. However, it is important that these stores are community-led, to empower communities and reduce government-dependence.