Nutritious sustainable food vital to health of Australians

By: the Public Health Association of Australia
21 November, 2018

Australia’s future health depends strongly on the whole population having affordable, equal access to nutritious food that is produced sustainably - the core focus of the Food Futures Conference being held in Brisbane this week by the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA).

PHAA CEO Terry Slevin said, “There is an urgent need for Australia to review its food system so that it delivers high-quality, nutritious food to all the population in a way which is equitable, does not contribute to environmental harm, and can be sustained well into the future. This is a critical public health issue.”

Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service will speak in the opening session of the conference on the social welfare aspect of food and nutrition through her presentation, ‘The challenge of “keeping bread on the table” for Australia’s most vulnerable’. 

Dr Rosemary Stanton OAM will present on corporate influence and the urgent need for the public health sector to work with all levels of government on creating better food policy in her presentation, ‘It’s time to be seen and heard’.

Dr Stanton confirmed the importance of better nutrition and sustainable food systems, saying “A healthy diet not only sustains the body and reduces many diet-related health problems, but healthier food choices are also much more environmentally sustainable than our current diet.”

Mr Slevin stated, “We need health professionals assisting to build a whole-of-government approach to tackle leading issues such as the affordability and accessibility of healthy food, regulating the sale of unhealthy food and drink, building sustainable agriculture and adapting our diets in the face of climate change.”

The link between sound environmental management and healthy food production will be explored in the opening session by the Chair of Soils for Life, Major General The Honourable Michael Jeffery, AC, AO(Mil), CVO, MC (Retd) in his presentation, ‘Healthy Soil, Healthy People’.

“We have a holistic view of our food systems – issues like soil degradation, water security and protecting biodiversity have always been inseparable from human health and nutrition.  Now more than ever urgent policy action is needed, at all levels of government and through strong collaboration with citizens, communities and industries, to protect this relationship between human health and the planet, and to build a healthy food future for all,” Mr Slevin said. 

The conference features a number of other distinguished keynote speakers and many experts and researchers in food and nutrition. Topics include: food access and security, sustainable food production, reducing corporate influence in food and nutrition policy, social inclusion in food policies, the nutrition needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, advancing nutrition education and food literacy, charitable food systems in Australia, and creating healthy food environments.