The African Youth Food Policy Study has produced a list of policy priorities to give voice to people and communities typically overlooked in food security policy decisions.

Dr Christina Zorbas from Deakin University’s Global Centre for Preventive Health and Nutrition (GLOBE), in the Institute for Health Transformation said migrant communities in Australia and other high-income countries can often face major barriers to accessing healthy, culturally-appropriate and affordable food.

‘Migrant communities are often overlooked and excluded from policy discussions and solutions,’ Dr Zorbas said.

‘One example of this is the lack of data reporting on rates of food insecurity among migrant communities in Australia.

‘We do know that in 2023 nearly half the population experienced some level of food insecurity, whether that was reduced quality and variety of food, eating less or not at all. But how this directly impacted people in migrant communities is unclear.’

Dr Zorbas co-led the research with 20-year-old Khalid Muse, who she is mentoring to become a leading voice in food and health policy that better reflects Australia’s rich cultural diversity.  From their interviews with community members, they found that young African Australians are calling for:

  1. Governments to improve policy engagement and collaboration efforts with migrant communities,
  2. Government support to improve availability of affordable, culturally-appropriate This includes making culturally-appropriate foods available in their neighbourhoods, supermarkets and reducing trade barriers.
  3. Food businesses to be seen as a way to support economic prosperity and self-determination of the community. Communities could benefit from accessible grant programs to set up community-led food businesses.
  4. Additional social supports and food vouchers to help reduce the financial pressures of buying food.

The African Youth Food Policy Study launched at the ‘Bridging Voices Through Food’ community event, was hosted by Deakin University and community partners.

Khalid said he was excited to share the findings of their work at the launch.

‘I am eager to showcase the importance of cultural food, not only in the sense of celebrating cultural diversity but also the role cultural food plays in connecting community, preserving identity and fostering a sense of belonging,’ Khalid said.

At the Yarra Youth Centre launch, young people took centre stage to share their personal stories and advocate for policy change. Discussions delved into the social, cultural, historical, and political factors that affect community access to food, especially in light of the current cost-of-living crises.

Download the African Youth Food Policy Study

SBS news featured the launch in an article titled ‘Cost-of-living woes put traditional foods out of reach’. Watch it here

This research project was funded under a Victorian Health Promotion Foundation Fellowship.