Archive for 'Submissions'

Response to Senate Inquiry Regarding Income Inequality

Posted on 08. Dec, 2014 by .


The Sydney Food Fairness Alliance recently made a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs Inquiry into Income Inequality.

Click here to view the submission:

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Response to proposed appendix to NHMRC Dietary Guidelines

Posted on 08. Jan, 2013 by .


Australian Dietary Guidelines through an Environmental Lens

Food is central to environmental considerations since 30% of gas emissions are related to the production and distribution of our food. And as wisely noted by the FAO’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2009, “food security is not possible without securing an environmental future”.

The Sydney Food Fairness Alliance does not welcome the initiative to relegate the environmental considerations of dietary choices to a peripheral document while it should be central to sustainable eating.

Read on…  Response to proposed appendix to NHMRC Dietary Guidelines

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Senate Enquiry into Adequacy of Allowance Payment for Jobseekers

Posted on 11. Aug, 2012 by .


Submission to 


Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Committee Inquiry into the adequacy of the allowance payment system for jobseekers and others, the appropriateness of the allowance payment system as a support into work and the impact of the changing nature of the labour market.


August 2012

Inadequate allowances are contributing to food insecurity

The SFFA draws the Committee’s attention to the experience and impacts of food insecurity resulting from inadequate allowance support payments.

“Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”

Food security is a human right, and an essential determinant of health.

Under the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), states have a core obligation to take the necessary action to provide for a satisfactory standard of living, for example access to housing, healthcare and education, as well as an obligation to mitigate and alleviate hunger.

While food is seemingly abundant in Australia there are segments of the population that do not have access to enough good food on a regular basis.

  • The 2001 Child Health Survey estimated 6.2 per cent of Australian households (over 1 milion people) were food insecure. Those from low-income areas were three times more likely to be food insecure than respondents from other areas. Nolan et al. found 15.8 per cent of households in three socially disadvantaged suburbs in south western Sydney to be food insecure.
  • As Newstart recipients are more likely to be older workers, to have a partial disability or mental illness, to face communication or language barriers or lack marketable skills and have low level of formal education they are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity.
  • The SFFA notes that emergency food relief agencies are reporting annual increases of 30-40% p.a. in demand for services, due to rising food insecurity. (Foodbank research)
  • The cost of healthy food has been rising more than the cost of less nutritious food, leading to poor nutrition and risk of chronic diseases
  • Poverty is a strong factor influencing health, and people who suffer the poorest health and who could benefit most from a better diet are frequently unable to afford, or access fresh and nutritious food.

Effects of food insecurity

Food insecurity has both short-term and long-term health impacts. People who are food insecure report a range of physical and psychosocial effects, including social exclusion, lethargy, irritability, poor concentration and motivation.

These effects are likely to contribute to decreased opportunities to engage and participate in employment or training, and lead to the familiar ‘cycles of disadvantage’.

Who is affected by inadequate allowances?


Research conducted for the Yhunger#2 project in 2010-2011 with a sample of 50 homeless young people, aged 14–26 years in central and south western Sydney, included face to face interviews and 8 focus groups at specialist youth homelessness services (research papers under peer review for publication).  These young people generally receive the maximum rates of Youth Allowance or parenting payments, and pay substantially less rent than the private rental market in Sydney while staying in supported accommodation.

Food insecurity was found to be extensive and persistent, with the majority of participants experiencing food insecurity within the previous month and year. Rates of food insecurity for these young people were found to be over 10 times higher than the Australian population rate of 5.2% across all socioeconomic groups.


“One lady she put her forms for many community housing and she has two children. Her income is $570 and her rent is $440 so there is no money for food.”

In a convenience sample of 76 refugee families settled in Fairfield, Sydney, the NSW Refugee Health Service found 40 per cent of people experienced food insecurity. For some subgroups, identified as being more vulnerable a prevalence of up to 85 per cent food insecurity was observed. This represents 8 to 16 times the national prevalence of 5.2 per cent and exceeded the prevalence in any subgroup identified as vulnerable in the National Nutrition Survey. The prevalence of food insecurity reported in this study is comparable to rates of food insecurity found in refugee populations in other parts of the developed world.


A 2011 survey of clients accessing emergency food relief provided by Foodbank found that:

  • 88% could not afford to eat the variety of food they felt they should eat and 67% could not afford to feed children the variety of food they felt they needed
  • 35% had to cut the size of their children’s meals, and 14% of children missed meals
  • 51% did not eat for a whole day
  • Clients were 3.7 times more likely to report symptoms suggestive of depression
  • 65% suffered emotionally or psychologically


Inadequate nutrition and anxieties about food intake significantly contribute to poor physical and mental health. Ill health as a result of food insecurity contributes to existing health inequities, as inadequate nutrition is most commonly experienced by people with the worst social and economical status and other forms of disadvantage.

This is of particular concern for children in families dependent on basic allowances. The long term effects for children of poor nutrition include: obesity, compromised intellectual social and emotional development, decreased ability to concentrate leading to poor school performance.

Both chronic and transitory food insecurity also have implications for social and cultural integrity. The social implications of chronic food insecurity have been noted as being an intensification of a sense of powerlessness and exclusion as well as being unable to maintain a sense of optimism.

The modification of eating patterns and anxiety related to accessing food are known to increase familial tension, stress and disruption of family dynamics. There is an erosion of the transfer of knowledge and practices around food and eating related to the loss of food rituals.

Short-term allowances for long-term problems

Although allowances such as Newstart are intended to provide only short term assistance to the unemployed, the reality is that many people remain on these allowances for extended periods. Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) data demonstrates that for 60 per cent of people living Newstart or the Youth Allowance equivalent in August of 2011, their ‘temporary’ reliance on Newstart had already lasted for more than twelve months.

Subsisting on a very low income over an extended period of time for many leads to a cycle of debt, stress and social isolation that gets harder and harder to break out of. This low rate traps people in poverty. Half of all people on emergency food relief are on Newstart, and nearly half of households on Newstart have not been able to pay a utility bill in the last 12 months. 40% of people on Newstart can’t access essential dental treatment.

The most durable solution to alleviate the experience of food insecurity and to raise unemployed and under employed people out of poverty is to increase welfare support payments and training and job ready programs.


  • SFFA strongly advocates the Senate to raise Newstart and Youth Allowance to a level reflective of the Disability Support Pension and to review the indexation of these allowances. As the current Newstart payment represents 45 per cent of the minimum wage raising these allowances to align with the DSP would not act as a disincentive to seeking paid employment.
  • SFFA supports a call for increases to employment services to assist people move more quickly off allowance payments and into paid employment.
  • The SFFA strongly supports the recommendation of the Henry tax review, to increase the rate of Newstart allowance by $50 as a minumum and first step in moving towards a system of allowances which can provide a sufficient income to enable people to support participation in work and social life, and to increase opportunities for them to do so.


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Strategic Land Review

Posted on 11. May, 2012 by .


Sydney Food Fairness Alliance supports the submission from Caroona Coal Action Group in relation to the Strategic Land Review. (specifically on Aquifer Interference)


As an organisation working to ensure sustainable food systems for the future, Sydney Food Fairness Alliance (SFFA) is very concerned  at the apparent abandonment of pre-election promises made by the O’Farrell government in relation to protection for farming land in NSW’s most productive agricultural regions.

Australia has limited land suitable for the agricultural production and it makes no sense to jeopardise some of our best land, by putting short-term gain for a few companies ahead of protection of long-term sustainable assets for the Australian community.

Australia’s food production needs will rise in the future, particularly in light of extensive projected population growth, and the impact of peak oil on cost of importing foods from overseas.

The SFFA is an alliance of diverse groups including health workers, nutritionists, primary producers, environmentalists, planners, academics, human rights workers and charitable organisations. We believe that the groundswell of public opinion is shifting towards recognition of the urgent need to act now to protect our land and water, with abundant evidence of the environmental problems created when we ignore sustainability concerns.

This submission by Caroona Coal Action Group explains in detail why the Aquifer Interference Policy is flawed, and we support the CCAG in their carefully researched assertions. We urge the government to commit to much more thorough research, to adopt the precautionary principle in all considerations of the coal seam gas industry, and to ensure a much more stringent regulatory framework for CSG activities.

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National Food Plan – SFFA’s response to submission time

Posted on 15. Jul, 2011 by .


National Food Plan submission period inadequate – needs extension
The public has only been given a month to comment on an
issues paper guiding the formation of a much-needed national
food plan – the submissions period is inadequate and must be
extended, says the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance (SFFA).

DOWNLOAD... SFFA response on National Food Plan submission time. (124KB)

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SFFA response to Our Cities

Posted on 02. May, 2011 by .


Our Cities sets out the Australian Government’s thinking on a national approach to urban development and the challenges to be addressed for our cities to become more productive, sustainable and liveable.

The Sydney Food Fairness Alliance welcomed the opportunity to respond to the Our Cities Discussion Paper Feedback Survey.

The SFFA noted that production and consumption of food is integral to the health of people, the environment and economy urged Infrastructure Australia to ensure that plans for our cities seek to protect and promote food production within urban areas and promote access to healthy, affordable food for all households.

DOWNLOAD… the SFFA response to Our Cities (pdf file)

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The Metropolitan Strategy – Review 2010

Posted on 13. Jul, 2010 by .


The Metropolitan Strategy – City of Cities: A Plan for Sydney’s Future: Review 2010

DOWNLOAD … Metropolitan Strategy Review 2010 (231KB pdf)

In early 2010, a review was announced of Sydney’s Metropolitan Strategy, Sydney Towards 2036 , the first five-yearly review since the Strategy was written in 2005 . This submission was prepared on behalf of SFFA by Lynne Saville, Dr Frances Parker and Liz Millen. It focuses mainly on Section 8 of the discussion document ‘ Balancing land uses on the city fringe’.

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