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Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Food Security - Sustain Briefing Note

Nick Rose, Executive Director

Daily headlines reportage on the cost-of-living crisis, rising food insecurity, climate change fallout affecting fresh food production and transportation, are inescapable. They reflect the sign of the times, and what is to come.

It's very timely that the Victorian parliament is conducting two Inquiries into food security in 2024:  

  • Environment and Planning Committee (Legislative Assembly) – Inquiry into securing the Victorian food supply 
  • Legal and Social Issues Committee (Legislative Council) – Inquiry into food security in Victoria

On Tuesday 9th April we were delighted to host Shaping Victoria's Food Future - A Symposium for Collective Action at the Angliss Conference Centre. Over 100 people from across Victoria's food system attended in person and online, to hear from leading experts on key issues before the Inquiries and to discuss with each other key actions required from the State government to secure our food security and our food system. 

Sustain welcomes the opportunity that this Inquiry provides for a deep dive into the resilience and sustainability of Victoria's food system. This Inquiry is long overdue. Victoria's food system faces unprecedented challenges, from the extreme weather events of recent years, accelerating climate change, major disruptions caused by the pandemic and now geopolitical instability that threatens input supplies and prices. This is all on top of a heavily concentrated supermarket sector in which farmers are price takers, as well as rampant urban sprawl over several decades that has seen much valuable farmland lost to residential and commercial development.
We need a coordinated, whole of system and whole of state approach to guarantee our food security and food system resilience for the long term. That means a Victorian food system and food security strategy, a Victorian food council with representation from First Nations and all key sectors, a comprehensive map of our food supply chain to identify key vulnerabilities, and much more.

Nick Rose, Executive Director

Key messages from expert presenters

- Failure to properly protect our remaining regions around Melbourne and to support farmers to produce in those regions will be 'catastrophic' for Victoria's food security - Professor Michael Buxton, RMIT University

- "Supermarkets are misusing their power to drive profits at the expense of food systems and health. Several steps are needed to tackle this including mandating food price setting transparency, introducing competitive pressure by supporting new market entrants, and banning the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages": Professor Kathryn Backholer, Deakin University

- "What gets measured, gets done" - we have to systematically and comprehensively measure household food insecurity and commit to the right to food for all Victorians - Dr Rebecca Lindberg

Dr Sarah Mansfield MP captured the consensus in the room when she said 'Food security should be one of the highest priorities of any government. It is up to us to put it on the agenda.'

Participants left the event motivated and ready to do exactly that!

Submissions to the first inquiry are due on April 26th. For more information visit the parliamentary website

Briefing Note to support submissions

 Sustain has prepared a Briefing Note to support submissions, with key suggested recommendations and resources. Our recommendations cover the following areas: 

  • First Nations Food Sovereignty
  • A strategic framework to guarantee Victoria's food system and food security
  • A cohesive and collaborative governance structure for a resilient Victorian food system
  • Sustainable, regenerative food production
  • Create diverse and short supply chains
  • Support for new agricultural endeavours and peri-urban farmers
  • Urban agriculture
  • Education and training

The full Briefing Note can be downloaded here