Selecting Interventions for Food Security in Remote Indigenous Communities



Improving the food security of people living in remote Indigenous communities is an identified priority of Australian Governments. As Indigenous Australians suffer a disproportionate burden from diet-related diseases, improved food security will result in health gains. This chapter describes a practical approach to developing and selecting interventions to improve food security in remote Indigenous communities. Food security interventions aim to achieve a secure, sustainable and healthy food supply to remote Indigenous communities with increased purchase and consumption of a healthy diet by community members as the outcome. Therefore, the menu of interventions must address both supply and demand issues. Policy makers need to take three simple, yet difficult steps when choosing which interventions are suitable to improve public health. Firstly, define the problem; secondly, consider ‘what could or should be done?’; and thirdly, appraise a full range of intervention options to choose the most effective in the real world.

The types of public health interventions that could be selected to improve food security are numerous, from regulatory options, to mass media campaigns, to one-on-one health ‘education’ in a clinical setting. Sustained action across all sectors and governments are required to address the structural and systemic problems that have resulted in poor food security for many remote Indigenous communities.


  1. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and the Steering Committee for Indigenous Health Equality. (2008). National Indigenous Health Equality Targets Outcomes from the National Indigenous Health Equality Summit Canberra, March 18–20. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.Google Scholar
  2. Altman, J. C. (2007). Alleviating poverty in Indigenous Australia: The role of the hybrid economy. In Topical issue (Vol. 10, pp. 1–9). Canberra: Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, The Australian National University.Google Scholar
  3. Altman, J., McDonnell, S., & Ward, S. (2002). Indigenous Australians and competition and consumer issues: A review of the literature and an annotated bibliography. CAEPR Working Paper No. 12/2002. Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research. Canberra.Google Scholar
  4. Andreyeva, T., Long, M. W., & Brownell, K. D. (2010). The impact of food prices on consumption: A systematic review of research on the price elasticity of demand for food. American Journal of Public Health, 100(2), 216–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2008). 4704.0- The Health and Welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Canberra.Google Scholar
  6. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2010a). Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2009–10. Retrieved May, 2011, from
  7. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2010b). Year book Australia, 2009–10. Retrieved May, 2011, from
  8. Australian Government. (2004). Food security strategy. Canberra: AusAID Public Affairs Group.Google Scholar
  9. Australian Government. (2009a). Report on the Northern Territory Emergency Response Redesign Consultations. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.Google Scholar
  10. Australian Government. (2009b). Future Direction for the Northern Territory Emergency Response: Discussion Paper. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.Google Scholar
  11. Australian Government. (2010). Closing the Gap. Prime Minister’s Report 2010. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.Google Scholar
  12. Australian Government. (2011). Northern Territory emergency response evaluation report 2011. November 2011. Canberra, Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.Google Scholar
  13. Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council. (2006). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2005. Canberra.Google Scholar
  14. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2008a). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework, 2008 report: Detailed analyses. AIHW Cat. No. IHW 22, Canberra.Google Scholar
  15. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2008b). Australia’s Health 2008. Canberra: AIHW.Google Scholar
  16. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2009). A picture of Australia’s children 2009. Canberra: AIHW.Google Scholar
  17. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2011). Contribution of chronic disease to the gap in mortality between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. Cat. no. IHW 48.Google Scholar
  18. Australian Securities and Investments Commission. (2005). Dealing with book up: A guide. Canberra.Google Scholar
  19. Bailie, R. S., & Wayte, K. J. (2006). Housing and health in Indigenous communities: Key issues for housing and health improvement in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 14(5), 178–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Bond, C., Williams, M., Crammond, B., & Loff, B. (2010). Taxing junk food: Applying the logic of the Henry tax review to food. The Medical Journal of Australia, 193(8), 472–473.Google Scholar
  21. Brimblecombe, J. K., McDonnell, J., Barnes, A., Dhurrkay, J. G., Thomas, D. P., & Bailie, R. S. (2010). Impact of income management on store sales in the Northern Territory. Medical Journal of Australia, 192(10), 549–554.Google Scholar
  22. Council of Australian Governments. (2009). National strategy for Food Security in Remote Indigenous Communities. Retrieved February 9, 2011, from
  23. Ehrlich, P. R., Ehrlich, A. H., & Daily, G. C. (1993). Food security, population and environment. Population and Development Review, 19(1), 1–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Farrell, D. (2007). Housing and infrastructure in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities. Australia 2006 (Reissue) (Vol. 4710.0). Canberra: Australian Government.Google Scholar
  25. Farrell, J. (2011). Income quarantining—the cure or the cause? Parity, 24(6), 33–35.Google Scholar
  26. Givoni, N., & Palermo, C. (2010). Monitoring the cost of healthy food. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 34(4), 433–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Harrison, M., Coyne, T., Lee, A., Leonard, D., Lowson, S., Groos, A., et al. (2007). The increasing cost of the basic foods required to promote health in Queensland. Medical Journal of Australia, 186(1), 9–14.Google Scholar
  28. Harrison, M., Lee, A., Findlay, M., Nicholls, R., Leonard, D., & Martin, C. (2010). The increasing cost of healthy food. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 34(2), 179–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hawkes, C. (2007). Regulating and litigating in the public interest: Regulating food marketing to young people worldwide: Trends and policy drivers. American Journal of Public Health, 9(11), 1962–1973.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hawkes, C. (2008). Agro-food industry growth and obesity in China: What role for regulating food advertising and promotion and nutrition labelling? Obesity Review, 9(Suppl 1), 151–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hawkes, C., Asfaw, A. et al. (2006). Evidence on the determinants of dietary patterns, nutrition and physical activity, and the interventions to maintain or to modify them: A systematic review. London, The International Food Policy Research Institute to the World Cancer Research Fund, American Institute for Cancer Research.Google Scholar
  32. Hazell, P., & Wood, S. (2008). Drivers of change in global agriculture. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 363(1491), 495–515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Health: Key Points. (2009). In Measures of Australia’s progress 2006 (Vol. 1307.0, pp. 32–29). Australian Bureau of Statistics.Google Scholar
  34. House of Representatives, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Committee. (2009). Everybody’s business. Remote aboriginal and Torres Strait community stores. Canberra: Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia.Google Scholar
  35. Kamphuis, C. B. M., Giskes, K., de Bruijn, G.-J., Wendel-Vos, W., Brug, J., & van Lenthe, F. J. (2006). Environmental determinants of fruit and vegetable consumption among adults: A systematic review. British Journal of Nutrition, 96(4), 620–635.Google Scholar
  36. Kettings, C., Sinclair, A., & Voevodin, M. (2009). A healthy diet consistent with Australian health recommendations is too expensive for welfare-dependent families. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 33, 566–572.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kunitz, S. J. (2000). Globalization, states, and the health of indigenous peoples. American Journal of Public Health, 90(10), 1531–1539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Landrigan, T., & Pollard, C. (2011). Food access and cost survey, Western Australia, 2010. Perth: Department of Health in Western Australia.Google Scholar
  39. National Preventative Health Taskforce. (2009). Australia: The healthiest country by 2020. National Preventative Health Strategy—the roadmap for action 30 June 2009. Canberra: Australian Government.Google Scholar
  40. National Public Health Partnership. (2000a). Deciding and specificying an intervention portfolio. Public health planning and practice improvement. Melbourne: National Public Health Partnership.Google Scholar
  41. National Public Health Partnership. (2000b). A planning framework for public health practice. Public health planning and practice improvement. Melbourne: National Public Health Partnership.Google Scholar
  42. Northern Territory Government. (2007). Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle “Little Children are Sacred” In our Law children are very sacred because they carry the two spring wells of water from our country within them. Report of the Northern Territory Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse. Darwin.Google Scholar
  43. Northern Territory National Emergency Response at 2007: An Act to respond to the Northern Territory’s National emergency, and for related purposes. (2007).Google Scholar
  44. Nutbeam, D., Wise, M., Bauman, A., Harris, E., & Leeder, S. (1993). Goals and targets for Australias health in the Year 2000 and beyond. Sydney: Commonwealth of Australia.Google Scholar
  45. Office of Aboriginal Health. (2003). FoodNorth: Food for health in North Australia. Perth: Department of Health in Western Australia.Google Scholar
  46. Parliament of Australia. House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs. (2009). Inquiry into community stores in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities: Comments against terms of reference, Canberra.Google Scholar
  47. Pinstrup-Andersen, P. (2009). Food security: Definition and measurement. Food Security, 1, 5–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Pollard, C. M., Lewis, J. M., & Binns, C. W. (2008). Selecting interventions to promote fruit and vegetable consumption: From policy to action, a planning framework case study in Western Australia. Australia and New Zealand Health Policy, 5, 27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Queensland Government. (2007). The 2006 Healthy Food Access Basket (HFAB) Survey.Google Scholar
  50. Roetter, R., & Van Keulen, H. (2008). Food security. In R. Roetter, H. Van Keulen, J. Verhagan, M. Kuiper, J. Verhagen, & H. Van Laar (Eds.), Science for agriculture and rural development in low-income countries (pp. 27–56). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  51. Strategic International Nutrition Alliance. (2001). Eat well australia: a strategic framework for public health nutrition/national aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander nutrition strategy & action plan. Canberra, Melbourne: National Public Health Partnership.Google Scholar
  52. The Kimberley Echo. (2011). Reporter Kim Macdonald, Truckies’ epic drive to deliver food April 1, 2011, 7:05 am. Retrieved March 26, 2011, from
  53. Vos, T., Barker, B., Stanley, L., & Lopez, A. (2007a). The burden of disease and injury in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 2003. Brisbane: School of Population Health, The University of Queensland.Google Scholar
  54. Vos, T., Goss, J., Begg, S., & Mann, N. (2007b). Projection of health care expenditure by disease: A case study from Australia. Centre for Burden of Disease and Cost-effectiveness, School of Population Health, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, University of Queensland.Google Scholar
  55. Webb, P., Coates, J., Frongillo, E. A., Rogers, B. L., Swindale, A., & Bilinsky, P. (2006). Measuring household food insecurity: Why it’s so important and yet so difficult to do. The Journal of Nutrition, 136(5), 1404S–1408S.Google Scholar
  56. World Health Organization. (2003). World Health Assembly resolution WHA57.17—Global strategy on diet, physical activity and health. Geneva: WHO.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Western Australia Department of HealthCurtin University’s Policy, Law, and CommunicationPerthAustralia

Personalised recommendations