Food security in a regional area of Australia: a socio-economic perspective
Le, Q and Auckland, S and Nguyen, HB and Murray, S and Long, G and Terry, DR, Food security in a regional area of Australia: a socio-economic perspective, Universal Journal of Food and Nutrition Science, 2, (4) pp. 50-59. ISSN 2333-2727 (2014) [Refereed Article]
While Australia is considered to be a highly food-secure nation, some populations are more vulnerable to food insecurity than others and this applies to Tasmania, an island state of Australia. The aim of this study was to highlight food security issues in the two local government areas of Dorset and Clarence in Tasmania, Australia. This paper reports on the key quantitative findings of the project with a focus on food access and food utilisation, and their association with socio-economic factors. Quantitative data were collected from a total of 835 survey participants using a questionnaire developed in close consultation with service provider organizations as well as public health and nutrition experts. The study revealed 53 (6.6%) residents were at the low food security and 18 (2.1%) who literally went without food. The significant correlations between low food security and socio-economic factors evidenced in the study further suggested that the low-food security residents were more likely to come from the more vulnerable groups of low income families (χ2= 42.528, df = 6, p < 0.05), the younger and older population groups (χ2= 12.361, df = 5, p < 0.05) or those living in socio-economically disadvantaged rural areas (χ2= 165.9, df =7, p < 0.05). A link between physical and financial access was clearly indicated due to high fuel cost (44.4%) which was the most common barrier reported among those who used personal vehicles for travelling to and from food shops. The study findings help to direct strategic policies to food security for the future of Tasmanians such as the "Food for all Tasmanians" strategy by the Tasmanian Food Security Council which focuses on ensuring social food equity for all Tasmanians. These strategies include promoting publicly funded community cars, promoting local produce and food access initiatives such as increased farm gate sales, farmer markets, food cooperatives, community gardens and growing and swapping produce within communities.
determinants, food security, socioeconomic status, vulnerable groups