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Mapping food insecurity

An index for central and north Queensland
Food relief Food production Agriculture Food security Queensland Far North Queensland

Australia is a relatively prosperous country, ranked in the top 15 nations in the world for living standards and unmatched in the OECD for its 29 year-long period of sustained economic growth.

Beneath the overall picture of relative economic strength, however, lies another sadder story. A significant and growing proportion of the population do not have enough to eat. Their food insecurity can be sustained, resulting from unemployment or low income, or it can be periodic, caused by sudden expenses or family emergency.

Australia has a well-developed system of charities which provides food relief to those most in need. Emerging from churches and other small scale charitable projects, the food relief sector has become highly professionalised in recent decades.

This report considers regional variability in food insecurity within Queensland. Specifically, it asks two questions:

  1. What is the level of hunger in North, Far North and North West Queensland and is it, consistent with general trends for regional Australia, higher than that observed in metropolitan areas?
  2. What need is there for greater food relief provision in Townsville and Cairns, both in normal circumstances and in times of natural disaster?

Key findings:

  • Food insecurity in Central and North Queensland is likely to be significantly greater than it is for Queensland as a whole. On the McKell Institute’s Food Insecurity Index, Central and North Queensland have a food insecurity score 20 per cent higher than the Queensland average and 60 per cent higher than the most food secure part of the State, inner Brisbane.
  • The provision of food relief in North Queensland is less well developed than it is in South East Queensland and in other parts of Australia.
  • A 2012 Federal Government recommendation to create greater food storage capacity in North Queensland does not appear to have been acted upon.


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