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Rising fresh food prices crippling indigenous communities

The tragic effect the rising cost of food is having on some remote Indigenous communities has been highlighted as a major policy concern for action by the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) of the Uniting Church.

National (UAICC) Administrator Rev Shayne Blackman said the health and socio-economic outcomes of some remote Indigenous communities would continue to decline unless a national framework to address the cost and supply of fresh food was implemented by all tiers of Government.

"Indigenous communities are faced with limited fresh food and prices in some cases up to three times higher than in major cities and these are the very communities in the least favorable socio-economic position," said Mr Blackman.

"The availability of nutritious foods in terms of price and access is fundamental to addressing the array of poor Indigenous health outcomes such as diabetes so prevalent in remote Indigenous communities.

"The Federal Government has an obligation to put politics aside in the face of this crisis to create a national framework in which all tiers of Government can openly cooperate to implement measures such as subsidising local stores and food transport costs, creating a climate for grocery sales competition and potential monolpoly regulation in communities and encouraging local production and bush tucker where feasible linked to a nutrition education program;

"The process should be driven by Indigenous leaders from affected communites in collaboration with a body such as Food Standards Australia New Zealand which has access to specialist advice.

"The Government has demonstrated it has the resources to affect positive change required in remote community nutrition and I urge the Government to take this issue in Indigenous communities as seriously as they purport to treat it in mainstream Australia," MrBlackman said."