Policy influences affecting the food practices of Indigenous Australians since colonisation

Document Type


Publication details

Sebastian, T & Donelly, M 2013, 'Policy influences affecting the food practices of Indigenous Australians since colonisation', Australian Aboriginal Studies, vol. 2, pp. 59-75.

Peer Reviewed



Aboriginal Australians face a range of health challenges, which can be linked to dietary-related factors. A higher prevalence of dietary-related illness, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and renal disease, exists among Aboriginal people. This paper examines factors affecting the food practices of Aboriginal Australians since colonisation and contrasts these with the sustainable food practices of Aboriginal people prior to permanent European occupation. Significant shifts in policy and other factors affecting food and eating practices in Australia have occurred over the past 200 years. Influential overlapping historical epochs identified include the pre-colonial, colonial, protection and assimilation periods, as well as the influence of the industrialisation of food production. The literature review draws on historical sources and policies that highlight the impact of the changing food identities of Aboriginal people that affect dietary-related illness. The paper concludes with some implications for food and nutrition policies. Evidence drawn from these findings indicates that further progress is required to inform the development of culturally appropriate food policies to address the dietary-related health issues of Aboriginal people

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