Giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children the best start in life: improving healthy food affordability and food security in remote Australia

  • Ferguson, Megan M. (Primary Chief Investigator (PCI))
  • McCarthy, Leisa (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Brimblecombe, Julie (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Lee, Amanda J. (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Cadet-James, Yvonne (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Fredericks, Bronwyn (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Miles, Eddie (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Brown, Clare (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Cullerton, Katherine (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Mah, Catherine (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Kleve, Suzanne (Associate Investigator (AI))

Project: Research

Project Details

Project Description

Food insecurity affects diet quality and contributes to malnutrition, diet-related disease and inter-generational poverty. Nationally, 31% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities are food insecure, though this is likely to be higher at up to 62%. This is in the context of high food costs and growing poverty. The two-phase study, designed with Apunipima Cape York Health Council staff and leading academics, aims to determine effective mechanisms to improve food security in remote Australia. It will target pregnant/breastfeeding women and carers of children under 5 years who reside in two intervention and two control communities, in two regions. Phase One of the study will employ a before-and-after study design to test how a price discount, offered via a loyalty card, will improve the affordability of a healthy diet, in line with an accepted benchmark. The primary outcome will determine how diet quality changes from baseline across participants from intervention and control communities. Secondary outcomes include food security
and anaemia. We will assess the impact of the discount on the affordability of a healthy diet and conduct semi-structured interviews with a sub-sample of participants to assess factors influencing food security, and the coping strategies families employ to alleviate this. Phase Two will focus on translation to policy using photo voice, where participants will take images relating to their experiences of food insecurity and determine themes around the issue. These themes will inform the development of policy messages which will be tested with the general public to maximise traction of our advocacy efforts to policymakers. The study will directly lead to a community framework to propose solutions to alleviate food insecurity, inform policy approaches, and give children
the best start in life by addressing the inter-generational impacts of food insecurity.
Effective start/end date1/03/2028/02/23


  • National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (Australia): A$1,888,598.10


  • Aboriginal child
  • Aboriginal health
  • nutrition
  • food
  • poverty