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Sensitivity Warning

First Peoples

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this resource may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.

Briefing paper

Policy responses to food insecurity in remote Indigenous communities: social security, store pricing and Indigenous food sovereignty

Remote health Aboriginal people (Australia) Food security Rural and remote communities Cost and standard of living Food consumption Australia


The proportion of remote-living Indigenous people who lived in a household that ran out of food, and could not afford to purchase more, increased from 32.8% to 38.6% between 2012–2013 and 2018–2019. This paper outlines policy options to respond to the increasing prevalence of remote Indigenous food insecurity. We argue that while it may be possible to reduce the price of food in remote stores to some degree, the cost of commercial food provision in remote Indigenous communities is likely to remain high in comparison to larger Australian towns and cities. Accordingly, policy responses should look to other means for increasing food security beyond reducing prices.

We suggest that increasing social security payments and removing barriers currently impeding Indigenous communities from pursuing food sovereignty are the most promising avenues for increasing Indigenous food security. Relaxing the mutual obligations requirements facing social security recipients and supporting social enterprises would assist Indigenous communities to engage in customary food provisioning.

A version of this Topical Issue was provided to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs Inquiry into food pricing and food security in remote Indigenous communities in June 2020.

Publication Details
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CAEPR Topical Issue No. 4/2020