Traditional Food Growing Can Alleviate Food Insecurity In Ancient Tribal Communities

How does culture help address societies’ challenges and add value to development interventions? The UNESCO Indicator Suite focuses on three key axes: i. Culture as a sector of economic activity; ii. Culture as a set of resources that adds value to development interventions and increases their impact; and iii. Culture as a sustainable framework for social cohesion and peace, essential to human development. Culture is understood as playing both an instrumental and constitutive role in development.

Privileging Indigenous knowledge systems – ways of being, seeing and doing

Is traditional Aboriginal healing and Indigenous knowledge the missing link needed to close

the gap? As we considered this question, the broader notion of incorporating the

philosophies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and spirituality into all areas of

Aboriginal development was emphasised as central. The forum discussed the centrality of

this issue by examining the role of Aboriginal traditional medicine and Ngangkari healers

within the western medical health system.


What happened to Aboriginal traditional medicine in Australia?

Two key thematic questions on Aboriginal traditional medicine were overarching:

  • Why can’t we find any reference to Aboriginal Australian traditional medicine in key

international literature on Indigenous health?

  • Why historically, is Aboriginal traditional medicine not found as a core component of

Australia’s Indigenous health policy?’


The international and human rights framework

Despite international human rights standards forming the foundational principles of the

‘Close the Gap’ campaign, it was discussed that there has been a limited application of

those standards in Australia.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

  • Article 24.1 states, ‘Indigenous peoples have the right to their traditional medicines

and to maintain their health practices, including the conservation of their vital

medicinal plants, animals and minerals’.

Whilst symbolically Articles 24 and 31 were identified as crucial international human rights

instruments; Aboriginal traditional medicine is yet to be enacted into Australian health policy

in a significant and practical way.


So where are we now?

The Australian Government’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan

announced in 2014, is the first National health policy to reference and centrally place culture

as an essential toward meeting its objectives in Aboriginal health. However the plan leaves

open any robust solutions to the practical challenges of policy implementation in this space.

Also while peak Aboriginal health services and bodies do not necessarily practice traditional

medicine and healing, they generally work to cultivate culturally safe and supportive

services that are not just restricted to clinical interventions.

Despite the neglect of Aboriginal traditional medicine in Australia’s current legal and policy

frameworks, Ngangkari (Aboriginal traditional healers) continue to practice in their

communities. Debbie Wilson and Margaret Richards, both Ngangkari, spoke to the forum,

describing how they came to be Ngangkari, and the types of treatment they provide. Debbie

was born in Alice Springs and was taught by her father to heal. She travelled around with

her father and learnt from a young age that “spirit is important” for health and wellbeing.

Margaret was also taught by her father, healing in Adelaide and sometimes Melbourne.

Professor Elizabeth Elliott gave an example of the benefits she had witnessed when

traditional medicine was closely integrated with western medicine, providing the Fitzroy

Valley as an example. The Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services doesn’t specifically deliver

health services, but it brokers them between health professionals and the community. One

of its aims is to promote the integration of Aboriginal culture into western medicine.

Nindilingarri promotes the principal: two ways, two windows – acknowledging the benefit of

combining western and traditional medicine. Part of what Nindilingarri do is help educate

any health professional that comes to work in the Valley on the culture of the Valley. The

outcome is an effective collaboration.

Understanding how the theoretical framework of Indigenous Knowledge

Systems must inform our approaches to Indigenous health policy

One view is that the predominance of western, science-based medicine has led to the

marginalisation of Aboriginal traditional medicine. In particular, the historical preoccupation

within mainstream science to view knowledge of health as having developed in a linear

progression, from ‘primitive’ to ‘advanced’, with Aboriginal medicine being relegated to the

“primitive, distant, dreamtime” and therefore to a place of non-predominance. Positioning

Aboriginal knowledge systems and traditional medicine within western medicine and

science requires a holistic understanding about how Aboriginal ‘ways of doing’ is

contextualised within a much deeper, broader holistic way of being.

FIG 1: Presentation extract: A case study: Kanyini as a cultural determinates model for health

“The concept of Kanyini (Central Australia)

is a cultural construct reinforcing how

Aboriginal people hold care and nurture

for all. It reflects the reciprocal nature of

responsibility, empathy, connection,

compassion for all, not just Aboriginal

people. It is strengths based approach,

not deficit based model”. Prof. Brown

reinforced the need to translate culturally

valid and appropriate concepts into our

way of “doing things” and being,

embedding them both institutionally and


– Professor Ngiare Brown

So what does “Indigenous Knowledges Systems” actually mean?

In trying to unpack this idea to fully understand the current condition of Aboriginal traditional

medicine and why it has been forgotten or overlooked, requires a complex understanding of

what has led us here in the first place.

This marks a return to the broader major theme running across the entire forum – stressing

the importance of Indigenous Knowledge and Practices. This means culturally distinctive

ways of seeing, knowing, doing and being in the world. Therefore not only are Indigenous

Knowledge systems inherently different or contrast to Eurocentric/westernized ways of

seeing, knowing and doing, but are also, more importantly, culturally grounded.

Indigenous methods and cultural models of practice place emphasis on the centrality of

how culturally specific ways of being are innately linked to and informed by the distinct

legacy of a colonial history, dispossession, loss of land, loss of language, destruction of

custom, culture and kinship. Moreover, the resilience and evolution of these knowledge

systems, as they arise in new contexts, is challenging and they are challenged and



Aboriginal people avoiding mainstream health services

“It is well known that Aboriginal people see hospitals as places of dying” (Dr. Victoria

Grieves). If non-Indigenous Australians are able to accept that knowledge and views of

health differ, then we may be closer to accepting that the needs of Indigenous Australians

might be different.


Why don’t all medical students learn about Aboriginal traditional medicine?

It was noted that currently there is virtually nothing on this in the current course work across

most institutions and agreed that there is a need for Universities to do more to increase

Indigenous cultural awareness and competency. One way to do this is to engage Ngangkari

(or Aboriginal people with cultural authority to speak) and embed their knowledge

institutionally to help raise understanding and awareness.


There is a need to recognize and acknowledge the importance of Aboriginal systems

for knowing, doing and being. Increasing and expanding the mainstream

understanding about the concept of Indigenous health and wellbeing; “how you are

in the context of your environment” (Victoria Grieves) we need to change

perceptions, and particularly expand attitudes within western medicine and policy



• Mainstream initiatives that engage with Aboriginal cultural practice, philosophy,

spirituality and traditional Aboriginal medicines are examples of how to enact the

theoretical concept of Indigenous Knowledges into reality and practice. However,

there are too few examples of where this is happening in a meaningful and enduring



• Particular emphasis must focus on the need to ensure we identify Aboriginal people

with cultural authority to speak.


• It must be emphasised that incorporating sacred traditional Aboriginal medicine and

healing into the mainstream should not be done for the propagation of financial gain.

Nor should it be seen as trying to take the place of western medicine, especially not

for what are commonly seen as “white man’s illnesses” (for example diabetes or

renal failure).


• Approaches to Aboriginal health within University medical curricula and Government

policy should be holistic and based on a sophisticated knowledge of Indigenous

wellbeing. This includes social and emotional wellbeing in the context of cultural,

environmental and social determinants. A starting point is looking toward the

theoretical frameworks and policy’s set out and established by peak Aboriginal

health organisations and other major Indigenous peak bodies.



Dr Ngaire Brown about understanding how the theoretical framework of Indigenous Knowledge Systems must inform our approaches to Indigenous health policy.


Dr Ngiare Brown is a Yuin nation woman from the south coast of NSW. She is a senior Aboriginal medical practitioner with qualifications in medicine, public health and primary care, and has studied bioethics, medical law and human rights. She was the first identified Aboriginal medical graduate from NSW, and is one of the first Aboriginal doctors in Australia. Over the past two decades she has developed extensive national and international networks in Indigenous health and social justice, including engagement with the UN system.


Ngiare is a founding member and was Foundation CEO of the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA); is a founding member of the Pacific Region Indigenous Doctors’ Congress (PRIDoC); and is Chair of the Health, Rights and Sovereignty committee of PRIDoC. Along with colleagues from Aotearoa, Hawaii, Canada and mainland US, she is also part of an emerging international network addressing cultural governance protocols, and the ethical and legal impacts of genomic research and Indigenous peoples (the International Indigenous Genomics Alliance). Ngiare is convening a governance council for a newly established biorepository for Indigenous genomic research. She is also undertaking doctoral research in law, addressing Aboriginal child protection systems and practice.



Dr Ngaire Brown proposes that a cultural determinants approach to wellbeing is a relevant and effective way to improve outcomes across the social determinants of health   That any development endeavours (education, employment, economic independence) that fail to acknowledge and promote cultural perspectives is akin to assimilation and risk further negative impacts.  A ‘social and cultural determinants’ approach recognises that there are many drivers of illhealth that lie outside the direct responsibility of the health sector and which therefore require a collaborative, inter-sectoral approach;  There is an increasing body of evidence demonstrating that protection and promotion of traditional knowledge, family, culture and kinship contribute to community cohesion and personal resilience; Current studies show that strong cultural links and practices improve outcomes across the SDH.  Dr Brown often talks about our Historical legacy of contemporary and intergenerational impacts of historical policy, legislation, unresolved trauma, loss, grief, segregation, protection and assimilation policies. A ‘social and cultural determinants’ approach recognises that there are many drivers of ill-health that lie outside the direct responsibility of the health sector and which therefore require a collaborative, intersectoral approach;  There is an increasing body of evidence demonstrating that protection and promotion of traditional knowledge, family, culture and kinship contribute to community cohesion and personal resilience;  Current studies show that strong cultural links and practices improve outcomes across the SDH.  Indigenous perspective enriches practice for all.

Culture constitutes a fundamental dimension of the development process and helps to strengthen the independence, sovereignty and identity of nations. Growth has frequently been conceived in quantitative terms, without taking into account its necessary qualitative dimension, namely the satisfaction of man’s spiritual and cultural aspirations. The aim of genuine development is the continuing well-being and fulfilment of each and every individual….  Balanced development can only be ensured by making cultural factors an integral part of the strategies designed to achieve it; consequently, these strategies should always be devised in the light of the historical, social and cultural context of each society.

How does culture help address societies’ challenges and add value to development interventions? The UNESCO Indicator Suite focuses on three key axes: i. Culture as a sector of economic activity; ii. Culture as a set of resources that adds value to development interventions and increases their impact; and iii. Culture as a sustainable framework for social cohesion and peace, essential to human development. Culture is understood as playing both an instrumental and constitutive role in development.



Traditional foods have had a significant and beneficial role in the diets and way of life of Aboriginal people for thousands of years. Before European settlement in Australia the diets of Aboriginal people safeguarded them against diabetes and obesity. The benefits of traditional foods and their procurement are well established and compelling. The indirect benefits of traditional foods on the wider social determinants of health are as equally important. Traditional foods and associated resources can be the foundations of improved education, employment and commercial opportunities. These foods must be protected from contaminants from mining or other practices that are increasingly widespread among regions where Aboriginal communities exist. Promoting and protection of traditional foods will improve food security and this will ultimately be dependent on the continued access and preference for these foods by Aboriginal people.


McCalman et al (2004), using the first longitudinal, cradle to grave datasets created in Australia, constructed a comparative analysis, between all-age survival of birth cohorts of First Nations and impoverished whites born between 1851 and 1900. This extensive study illustrates the health burden that First Nation people endured from early European colonisation. McCalman et al (2004) describe First Nation people suffering from systematic legislative racism, social exclusion, a decline in social cohesion, social capital, material security and loss of traditional hunting grounds.



Data exists for only 65% of First Nations and included only impoverished whites. McCalman et al (2004) does not illustrate the burden that First Nation people endured as most First Nation people were ‘statistically invisible’ for almost a century. A comparative analysis with other whites, other than those who were impoverished should have been completed. The representation of First Nation and Non-First Nation people in Australia’s most extensive study of this time is incomplete.


By the mid-nineteenth century smallpox had decimated the First Nation population and the last remaining people lost traditional hunting grounds and rights to water to the new settlers and their stock. In 1886 the Half-castes Act forced all First Nation people of mixed-ancestry to leave their traditional lands. Smith and Smith (1999) reviewing Commonwealth Department of Health documents from 1951, state First Nations were forced to adapt to extreme social change between 1890-1970


Lipski (2010) explores the first observations of researchers, scientists and physicians working in small First Nation communities in the early to mid-twentieth century. These professionals were amongst the first working with First Nation people in their communities and at the crossroads of traditional and Western cultures. Individuals consuming traditional diets were in ‘superb health’. Early reports by physicians claimed, those consuming market food had poor health (Lipski 2010).


By the 1950s concern about the nutritional health of First Nation people living on stations prompted the Australian Commonwealth 1951 dietary survey. Smith and Smith (1999), illustrate that by the 1970s First Nation health was deteriorating further. So critical was First Nation health, that it gained attention from national and international critics. Until the 1970s, little information was recorded by the Health Department. Cases of malnutrition were frequent.


There was an absence or undersupply of vegetables, fruits and dairy, especially in remote communities. Smith and Smith (1999) illustrate that the foods most valued on station camps were meat, flour and sugar and were available as staples without any direct effort for their acquisition.


By the end of the 1800s the First Nation diet was dominated by station rations, including sugar, tea, flour, jam and meat. In the 1960s and 1970s alcohol was freely available and welfare payments were relied on as unemployment increased.


Kouris-Blazos and Wahlqvist (2000) report that westernisation of diet, loss of hunter gatherer skills and increasingly sedentary lifestyles have brought about susceptibility to so called lifestyle diseases.


Smith and Smith (1999) found after reviewing the Commonwealth Department of Health publications in 1951, including Australia’s first detailed nutrition survey and Gould’s work in 1980, that beef, flour, tea and sugar and only small amount of vegetables made up the diets of First Nation people.


First Nation people were relocated hundreds of kilometres from their homeland, rations were offered for work, as was shelter. By the 1980s traditional foods consisted of no more than 20% of total food intake.


McArthur et al (2000) illustrates the work of an anthropologist, nutritionist and plant ecologist observing the daily living activities of nomadic hunter gatherers of Arnhem Land, Northern Australia. The research methodology included eight months observing food gathering techniques of four families ‘living off’ traditional foods. Similar to the findings of Smith and Smith (1999) and Kouris-Blazos (2000), the hunter gatherer diet was varied, seasonal and there were periods of feast and famine.


If participants gorged one day, they rested the next. Men had defined roles in hunting, while women cared for the young and collected plant materials. First Nation people had unparalleled knowledge of their traditional foods. Preparation and cooking practices enhanced digestion, nutrient bioavailability and reduce levels of toxins (Lipski 2010). 4


Many foods were also used as medicines. Kouris-Blazoz & Wahlqvist (2000) noted that non-First Nation stockmen suffered from scurvy and ‘Barcoo rot’, while First Nation men, who ate traditional foods rarely suffered. Smith and Smith (1999) noted that hunter gatherer diets were high in vitamins and minerals. This was in direct contrast to station diets and rations, which contained little essential vitamins.


Brand-Miller & Holt (1998) presented evidence that traditional, plant-based materials have a nutrient composition that is protective against diseases like diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases. Fruits, roots, tubers, nuts, seeds, leaves and flowers were analysed by three major scientific centres. Eight hundred traditional bush food samples had been collected over two decades.


The benefits of traditional foods were due to low total fat intakes and an almost vegetarian daily diet observed over five months. On closer examination the First Nation participants observed had a restricted diet, mainly due to drought and existed in a sparsely resourced and harsh environment. Gould described the physical environment as the most unreliable and impoverished in the world.



Grass seeds made up the bulk of the diet and by modern standards many of the First Nation people may have been malnourished. Traditional foods, especially meat such as dugong fat are essentially energy dense and there would be concerns if large quantities were consumed regularly


Traditional food diets correlated positively with higher intakes of iron, zinc, and potassium. Market food diets correlated positively with sodium, total fat, saturated fat, sugar and absolute energy intake. The authors concluded that poor nutritional status as a consequence of a deficient intake of traditional foods could be counteracted by education and access to good quality market foods.


It was also demonstrated that traditional foods are good sources of vitamin A, D and E


Jamieson et al (2012) in a cohort of 994 men found those without a household hunter had a higher risk of low or depleted iron stores. Traditional foods were the most important dietary source of Iron.



Altman (2007) illustrates the developmental problems in remote First Nation communities of Australia. Altman gives evidence to propose that First Nation economic and cultural development can be achieved, even in the most remote regions of Australia.


1Nindilingarri Cultural Health Services, Fitzroy Crossing WA PO Box 200, Fitzroy Crossing, WA 6765, ph 08 9193 0093, fax 08 9193 0094, or


Is Australia Hiding Aboriginal Achievement, was this hiding so they didn’t have to justify was taken from the first people? Are Australians really of the view that our First People were incompetent, that the First People were’nt using the land, so there for it didn’t matter to the First People that it was taken away?



By the mid-nineteenth century smallpox had decimated the Aboriginal population and the last remaining people lost traditional hunting grounds and rights to water to the new settlers and their stock. In 1886 the Half-castes Act forced all Aboriginal people of mixed-ancestry to leave their traditional lands. Smith and Smith (1999) reviewing Commonwealth Department of Health documents from 1951, state Aboriginals were forced to adapt to extreme social change between 1890-1970. McCalman et al (2004) paints a horrifying picture that many Aboriginal people were now too ‘white’ to be ‘black’ and too ‘black’ to be allowed to be ‘white’. With Federation in 1901, The Commonwealth introduced entitlements in pensions and child payments, amongst others that systematically excluded Aboriginal people. The Aboriginal cohort, although incomplete, reveals how colonisation has dislocated community cohesion and social capital.


We have to relearn our history to gain the needed respect for Aboriginal expertise and therefore give Aboriginal people a much fairer place in Australian life.

There’s a lot lost but a lot to gain. Its much better now then it was for our parents.

We’ve hidden the real history from everyone, a lot of info is hidden in colonial records.

Very Economic, we never killed or harvest more then we needed, we were always doing many things at one. Look at the woomera, can be used for many things.

The ancient people of this land valued knowledge the same way the western way values materials.

We governed our country without warfare.

We had massive plantations of root vegetables and massive plantations of grains.

We may not have invented the laptop but we what we did invent was sustainable.

We spent a lot less time with food and shelter then new comers, we spent a lot of time burning and in ceremony.

Blackfullas know best how to look after country, we assured an abundance, even in drought, the old people can ensure abundance.  We also know how to protect Biodiversity.

We got keep learning how to manage fire the way the old people did, you can’t outrun an Ash Wednesday. John Newton.

Challenges – society wants people to move into the white world, the risk is they move away from their own culture.

Colonialism is not a post its not over yet.

Everything they learnt in school is against culture, we are undefeated.

We never had rivers without water in them, we looked after the rivers

Murray Darling – took 90% of the water out of greed. They got no law, they talk about the Christian way. Man has dominion over the earth. We think the opposite ways. This system is perfect, it is us that has to change. Uncle Bruce Pascoe

Be proud of the genius of our ancestors, we have to live in the knowledge of law again.

The new historiography of Australia is needed– the new version of Australia’s history


Addiction and Trauma Is Not an Excuse It’s An Explanation


Indigenous Australians’ experience of child welfare policies has historically been traumatic, with the policy of forcible removal of children known as the Stolen Generations (National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families, 1997). The consequences of these removal policies have long-term impacts, including social, physical and psychological impacts for those directly involved, as well as their families and communities (Atkinson, 2013). Child protection issues continue to be very significant for Indigenous communities, reflecting this history of trauma and stressors that have impacted on parents, parenting skills and communities. Issues such as substance abuse, poverty and family violence are also key factors (AHRC, 2015; de Bortoli et al, 2015).



Evidence shows when community is involved it made the difference

What works in one place wont work in othwrs we need community appropriate


When do gov ever only ever listen to one person in public policy? Only in aboriginal affairs


We haven’t got any vision in aboriginal affairs –


We have to get up and do things ourselves


Failed government policies cause transgenerational trauma – global studies have shown this to be true.


Trauma is natural but if they don’t have access to culture etc they will develop post traumatic stress disorder and will continue for generations unless its dealt with


The policies don’t reflet the fact that some medical people get it. Why are they drinking must be asked? Got to get to the bottom of the pain and get to who we really are.


Gotta get sober first to deal with the trauma and heal, get rid of all the old stuff. And we dicsover who we really are as black people.


Create services ourselves and don’t wait for govs to say sorry before we start our healing

Work on ourselves first.


There is help out there, money and funding is not the first step. If you want the healing you will find it, you have to stop thinking we have the answers. The ancestors are watching over us and have the answers, ask them for help. You cant do it alone.


Its no doubt peodophilia, drinking and drug use is an issue but the statistics show theres a bigger problem in the mainstream.  Theres a higher proportion of drinking and drug use in the mainstream population statistically.  It’s a well thought out campaign, there excuse is we are all users, drugs and crooks so they have to do everything for us. Its knee jerk reactions, lacking evidence based research and without consultation with the communities.  The most well meaning people who cause the most oppression.  They need a smoke screen to take our land, hence all the failed policies.

The message that started with Hindmarsh, we are all gammon and they are going to do everything for us.


85% ATSIC money was held by the health minister.


A paper by The Australian National University concludes:

The history of policies concerning Indigenous Australians is awash with unintended outcomes. Despite considerable investment from all levels of government, many indicators show that outcomes for Indigenous Australians are not improving and there is still a considerable way to go to achieve the Council of Australian Governments’ commitment to ‘close the gap’ in Indigenous disadvantage. As noted by Dockery (2010): From the arrival of the ‘First Fleet’ in Australia in 1788 … policy towards the Indigenous population has oscillated through a number of stages. It remains an issue of intense debate among Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians alike. The one point of consensus is that our past efforts have been a failure. (p. 315) The Australian Government recognises that Indigenous policy must: (1) work with Indigenous people in ways which take into account the full cultural, social, emotional and economic context of their lives; (2) actively involve Indigenous communities in every stage of program development and delivery; and (3) value Indigenous knowledge and cultural beliefs and practices which are important for promoting positive cultural identity and social and emotional wellbeing for Indigenous Australians (Osborne, Baum, & Brown, 2013). Moreover, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (2006) declaration states: …Indigenous peoples will define their own understandings and visions of wellbeing from which indicators will be identified, and include the full participation of Indigenous peoples in the development of these indicators. (p.15) Despite such declarations, in many countries (including Australia) policy development and application remains deeply rooted in improving Indigenous wellbeing, as it is perceived by the dominant (Western) non-Indigenous culture. This position is most clearly articulated in the framework underpinning the ‘Closing the Gap’ suite of policies, where Indigenous outcomes are benchmarked against outcomes achieved by the non-Indigenous population (Australian Government, 2013). The use of a nonIndigenous perspective of wellbeing in the design and application of Indigenous policy is fundamentally flawed, as it does not account for Indigenous ways of life. What is needed is an appreciation of pg. 8 Indigenous wellbeing, as perceived by the Indigenous population itself. With a clearer understanding of Indigenous wellbeing and its determinants, more appropriate policy, and ultimately better outcomes, will be able to be achieved for this population. The introduction of subjective measures into the policy discourse will go some way to achieving this goal.


The DAA and the PHAA affirm:

  1. Food security exists “when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to

sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active

and healthy life”.

  1. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “everyone has the right to a standard of

living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food”. The right to adequate food is not a right to be fed but “a right of people to be given a fair

opportunity to feed themselves”, now and in the future

The Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s Social Justice Report 2005 proposes a rights based campaign to close the gap on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health inequalities within a generation. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples do not have an equal opportunity to be as healthy as non-Indigenous Australians. They do not enjoy equal access to primary health care and health infrastructure, which includes: safe drinking water, supplies of healthy food, effective sewerage systems, rubbish collection services and healthy housing. Without effectively addressing these underlying causes of health inequality, disease or condition-focussed programs are not likely to result in sustainable changes

In 2008, the Australian government officially supported the “Close the Gap” campaign.


  1. In 1996, the World Health Organization declared that “food security is built on three pillars:

Food access: having sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritious diet

Food availability: sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis

Food use: appropriate use based on knowledge of basic nutrition and care, as well as

adequate water and sanitation”.


The DAA and the PHAA note that:

Australian Context

  1. The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition Strategy and Action Plan 2000-

2010 (NATSINSAP) recognised that poor diet is central to the poor health and disproportionate

burden of chronic disease experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The

NATSINSAP set a framework for action across all levels of government, in conjunction with

partners from industry and the non – government sector. Through the identification of seven

priority areas, the NATSINSAP has been designed to build on existing efforts to improve access

to nutritious and affordable food across urban, rural and remote communities. The

NATSINSAP recognises that improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nutrition is the

responsibility of all those involved with diet, health and the food and nutrition system across all

levels of government, non-government agencies and the private sector.

Seven priority areas, the NATSINSAP has been designed to build on existing efforts to improve access to nutritious and affordable food across urban, rural and remote communities.

  • Food supply in remote and rural communities
  • Food security and socioeconomic status
  • Family focused nutrition promotion
  • Nutrition issues in urban areas
  • The environment and household infrastructure
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition Workforce
  • National food and nutrition information systems


Prior to European arrival in Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were healthy people who survived on a traditional diet rich in nutrients and low in energy density.

The dispossession of land and disruption to family structures through death, disease, forced resettlement and the removal of children since European arrival has severely affected the retention of knowledge, access to and use of traditional foods. Despite the devastating impact of colonisation and continued limitations around traditional food hunting/collection, traditional foods remain an important part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples lives today.

Traditional foods not only contribute to physical health but play a significant role towards cultural, spiritual and emotional health.

Altman (2007) illustrates the developmental problems in remote Aboriginal communities of Australia. Altman gives evidence to propose that Aboriginal economic and cultural development can be achieved, even in the most remote regions of Australia. Altman suggests that the geographically dispersed Aboriginal communities throughout Australia must become commercially, economically and culturally viable to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals. The absence of commercial opportunity has been dissolved by mainstreaming Aboriginal people that are unique and diverse. Altman states, that, there is a limited market opportunity, especially in remote and very remote regions and there is a reliance on welfare payouts and other poverty traps. Altman believes there are exceptional opportunities for Aboriginal people to create their own hybrid economies within their region and support their traditional cultures. Enterprises that can be explored can include art, craft and other artefact trade, hunting and fishing and land and wildlife management and customary land exploration, expeditions and wildlife and adventure treks. Climate changes are national concerns, as is water quality and management (Altman 2002). Aboriginal people can develop and assist in land and water management practices, improving food security through the protection and management of traditional foods. Aboriginal people are living on some of the most bio-diverse land in Australia and Aboriginal people themselves have the potential to create unique opportunities towards greater self-determination.


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A little about page admin Kaiyu Moura (Bayles)

Now living in QLD raising her children on their traditional country, gathering food, learning the old art of building shelters, dance and the local language. For the past 20 years with her late Grandmother Maureen Watson and a dance group with 6 of her sisters Kaiyu travelled schools, festivals, events etc sharing the beauty of First Nations Culture through song and dance, stories, art, theatre, nursery rhymes, poetry etc and engaging all ages in different projects that inspire positive change. Also a poet, documentary maker, songwriter, artist, event organiser, media consultant, testing the waters of micro social enterprise by starting her own tshirt and sublimation printing business and with her own label, Kaiyu creates what she calls Freedom Threads.

After building their own home on Tribal Sovereign land, Kaiyu is now homeschooling and teaching the kids about making our own tinctures, learning about bushtucker and mushrooms, growing food, building with aircrete, setting up wind turbines, composting toilets and ram water pumps... Really learning what it truly means to thrive. This is our Group where we share alot of what we do

Kaiyu and the Tribe
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