The Australian Food Network
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Local government food system survey 2024

Leadership, resources and commitment needed for local governments to engage substantially in food systems and food security

Below are high-level findings and quotes from our survey of local governments (41 responses, March 2023). 

Our Council currently does very little in this regard - as important as I think it is, this type of issue needs to a top down / rule change type initiative, Councillors and Exec need to have this as a priority, we have the skills, the willingness and the staff to do this, but it is not a priority - despite it being one of the single biggest risks our council faces - we are 100% dependent upon distant (and unknown) agriculture and transport services for all our food needs.
We desperately need a top-down approach. Councillors don't know the benefits or ask the community if they want more communitygardens and the like. Our CEO and Directors have no idea of the benefits across the community and business. So much potential but no-one is listening. I'm alone in the organisation trying to chip away. My projects are celebrated and everyone comes to 'cut the ribbon' but they have no idea how much the community needs and wants more of this.
If food system work is not seen as a core delivery of local government then it's hard to convince our organisation of the importance of our work. If food systems work can be even more closely aligned with climate emergency work then I think we'd have a better chance of progressing the food agenda.
Our Council has currently taken the approach of embedding food systems/food security work in plans and policies as they come up for renewal instead of a stand alone food systems strategy. Our challenge is also engaging Elected Members in the work which can be difficult with many completing priorities for them to consider and with very tight budgets.
We already have a wonderful local food coalition with many organisations, however everyone is limited in their capacities. We see all the above as important issues, however we need more staff resourcing to be able to attend these workshops and actually be productive with the outcomes.
Unless staff have this in their business plans or position description, they are unlikely to have the time to take on new work, so it must be shown to be part of their current work, current strategies
Need to get Council buy in first.
Make it accessible and integrated in planning.