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Sustain Guidance for Submissions to the Legal & Social Issues Committee Food Security Inquiry

Nick Rose, Executive Director, Sustain

The Legislative Council Legal and Social Issues Committee (LSC) is conducting an important Inquiry into food security in Victoria.  Sustain welcomes this Inquiry. Large numbers of Victorians are experiencing hardship and distress amidst one of the worst cost of living crises in recent memory. The burden of rapidly rising housing costs combined with sustained food price inflation place growing pressure on household food budgets. Food relief agencies report unprecedented demand for their services.

It is not an exaggeration to say that there is a hidden food poverty crisis in Victoria and the state government needs to take strong and effective action as a matter of high priority. This Inquiry is an important first step as it will provide front-line agencies and Victorians - especially those with lived experience of food poverty and food insecurity - to make their experiences and views known to inform the recommendations that the LSC will make in its report due in late November this year. 

Terms of Reference

The Terms of Reference for this Inquiry are that: "this House requires the [LSC] to inquire into, consider and report, by 14 November 2024, on the impacts and drivers of, and solutions for, food security in Victoria, including but not limited to:-

  1. The impact of food insecurity in Victoria, on-
    • Physical and mental health;
    • Poverty and hardship; and
  2. Options available to lower the cost of food and improve access to affordable, nutritious and culturally appropriate food."


The LSC is now accepting submissions for this Inquiry. Submissions opened on 3rd June and will close on 26th July. Submissions can be made directly via the Inquiry website here

Our Template and resources

We have brought together key evidence and leading examples of best practice to help organisations and individuals make their submissions to the Inquiry. 

This guidance document provides information on what could be included in a submission, as well as a suggested structure for submissions. It is not meant as a document that can be copy/pasted. Submissions that look similar can sometime be lumped together and counted as one submission. We strongly recommend making your submission specific and unique, either as individual entities, or as networks or coalitions. The structure could include:

1. Recommendations

2. Impacts of food insecurity

3. Drivers of food insecurity

4. Evidence-based initiatives

Key recommendations

It is important to have a clear and concise list of the key recommendations you are making at the top of the submission. This makes it easy for the Committee members to focus on what key actions you are seeking from the Committee in their report and from the government to whom their report is directed. Bear in mind that members may only be skimming through each submission and may miss your recommendations if they are left to the end. Evidence and justification for your recommendations can be outlined in the following sections.

Below is a list of some of the key food systems and food security recommendations contained within the Victorian Food System Consensus Statement and other comprehensive research papers published in the last few years as related to the inquiry ToR.

We strongly suggest you also include more specific recommendations that are relevant to your organisation, sector, geographical area and / or community.


That the State government:

  • Creates an enabling policy environment to transform Victoria’s food system by legislating the right to food in Victoria and embedding it into all relevant State and Local Government policies, budgeting processes and activities.
  • Commits to designing, implementing and evaluating a Victorian Food Systems Strategy and Investment Plan, integrating a rights-based and systems-based approach to meaningfully address food insecurity
  • Establishes a Committee to oversee the design, implementation and evaluation of a Victorian Food Systems Strategy and Investment Plan.
  • Ensures that the design and implementation of the Strategy and the Plan allow for meaningful engagement with a diverse range of stakeholders and community members, including those with lived experience of food insecurity and producers.
  • Supports First Nations communities with policy and resources to advance their goals and aspirations for their food sovereignty
  • Empowers local government to lead the participatory development of community food systems strategies via provision of financial and supporting resources.
  • Resources a comprehensive food systems and monitoring framework, including the use of best-practice survey instruments including the USDA 18-item food security survey to measure prevalence of household food insecurity
  • Revises the Victorian planning provisions legislation (Planning & Environment Act 1987) to mandate health as a consideration when local governments and other planning authorities are making planning decisions
  • Recognises that emergency food relief is not a solution to food insecurity

Food Supply, Production, and a Circular Food Economy

That the State government:

  • Facilitates a pragmatic and well-planned transition to forms of food production that will nourish generations to come, such as regenerative agriculture / agroecology.
  • Works with local governments, food producers and community organisations to decentralise food production, storage, and retail options, for example via the expansion of local markets and regional food hubs
  • Strengthens local and regional food production to mitigate and reduce reliance on imported food products
  • Works with local governments, food producers and community organisations to diversify the Victorian food system, including locations of production, storage, retail and distribution networks; the scale of enterprises involved in the systems; and increased biodiversity – crops, forestry, livestock
  • Works with local governments, food producers and community organisations to strengthen Victoria’s circular economy, building on the substantial work already underway led by Sustainability Victoria and its many partners

Food Access

That the State government:

  • Advocates to the Federal Government to increase income support payments, including Jobseeker, to above the poverty line and indexed to wage growth, consistent with a rights-based and income-first approach to food security
  • Legislates food as a human right and works towards its progressive realisation, ensuring that all Victorians, especially the people who experience the biggest barriers to food security, have equitable access to healthy, sustainable, and culturally appropriate food at all times
  • Continues to resource the FoodBank school breakfast club program, with a medium-long term outlook to create a state based initiative that provides all Victorian public school children with a healthy, locally procured breakfast to ensure that they are nourished and able to reach their full potential
  • Develops, implements and coordinates public sector food procurement programs to support local, regenerative and agroecologically managed farms
  • Comprehensively resources the emergency food relief sector during the transition to a new food system paradigm. Re-establishing and resourcing Victorian Food Relief Taskforce would be a good initial step
  • Collaborates with the education sector to develop comprehensive and practical food literacy programs
  • Collaborates with service recipients to create dignified models of food relief
  • Implements a supplemental nutrition program for pregnant women, infants and young children to ensure food and supplements are available in the vital period of early childhood, similar to Women Infant and Children program (USA) and Healthy Start (UK), in collaboration with Maternal and Child Health Services

Specific recommendations (examples)

  • Food relief – more funding, volunteer hours tied to job seeker requirements, resourcing of existing networks such as the Geelong Food Assistance Network
  • Local governments – funding for specific projects/initiatives, funding for monitoring and evaluation, recognition of food as related to climate, health, community resilience, etc

Food pricing and affordability

That the State government:

  • Support the recommendations of report of the Federal Senate Select Committee following its Inquiry into supermarket prices, including:
  • Recommendation 2: amend s.46 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 to prohibit the charging of excess prices (otherwise known as price gouging)
  • Recommendation 3: establish a Commission on Prices and Competition to examine prices and price setting practices of industries across the economy, including monitoring and investigating supermarket prices and price setting practices
  • Supports the passage of the Supermarket Industry Bill (2024) which will bring supermarkets under the coverage of the Essential Services Commission Act 2001as a regulated industry
  • Enables the Essential Services Commission to monitor and report on the retail sale prices offered by supermarkets for essential grocery items, in particular fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Enables the Essential Services Commission to investigate and report on profit margins for supermarkets in relation to essential grocery items
  • Enables the Essential Services Commission to designate a prescribed price for an essential grocery item offered for sale by a supermarket in Victoria

The remainder of our template and guidance contains details on the impacts of food insecurity, the drivers of food insecurity, and evidence-based initiatives. 

Download our Submissions guidance and template here .