Australian Fair Food Forum

Opportunity to influence food policy in Vic - embedding in local govt plans through submission process

At a recent event, @greg.jacobs made the excellent point that all local governments in Victoria are in the process of re-doing their council plans, which will then run from 2017-2021, and it’s a great opportunity to give feedback that drives food policy to be included in those.

There are some great examples of ways that local government have embedded food in policy, including

And there are many more - if you filter the Sustain directory by ‘knowledge’ you’ll see a bunch of different policies. For those keen to get really involved there’s also a VLGA food governance taskforce (@peterfkenyon may be able to elaborate more on that?)

But on a very simple level, I wonder if people can share their submissions and suggestions here to help others compose something to go into their local process?

And perhaps people can flag opportunities to contribute to that process around the state? Is your local council currently open for feedback? Please check your local council and add it by replying to this topic.

Some of the council submissions currently open (this is far from a complete list!)


So, I’ll kick off by sharing the food-related part of my submission to Mitchell Shire’s council plan (where I live). I’m a little embarrassed to do so as it was written in about 10 minutes just before the online feedback portal closed, so it’s very very rough and loose, but I suppose that’s what this thread is about trying to avoid! Maybe some others can have a more nuanced, detailed, useful input by having had more time to think about this.

What would make our community better?

I would like to see better access to sustainable local food both to support healthy communities and localised farming economies which provide a better financial return for farmers. … On the second point, of supporting a localised food economy, this seems of great importance to this shire because of the small scale nature of many farms here - they are more likely to make a good return on farming and be able to farm sustainably if they are getting a fair price for their food through a local value chain rather than trying to sell into export or the duopoly. Infrastructure and policy to support a localised food economy should be provided, such as support for establishment of food hubs, small scale processing facilities such as abattoirs, etc. Policy support in the form of protecting agriculture from urban and lifestyle property encroachment is particularly important.

What do you think Mitchell Shire Council should focus on for the next four years?

Support local food economy development (through staffing, infrastructure and policy) as a way to drive local employment, support for continued farming in the region, and access to fresh, healthy food for local communities.


Yes happy to help with this

You can get a copy of our suggestions to NE Vic local governments at this link:

It is very general but gives some ideas for how local governments might engage in this space. When I did an analysis of Victorian local governments last year the following loose findings emerged:

Metropolitan Local Governments: 12 of 22 have food and agriculture ‘mentions’ = 55%
Peri-urban LGs: 9 of 9 have food and/or agriculture ‘mentions’ = 100%
Regional LGs: 7 of 10 = 70%
Large rural shires: 8 of 19 = 42%
Small rural shires: 0 of 19 = 0%

One would imagine that small rural shires should have food/ag policies right up there but I think these figures represent a couple of things. One is that small shires often operate in a commodity ag space in which policies come from “on high” (federal and state) and so they see they have no specific role to play. They just accept they produce agriculture but can’t influence it. (Pity.) Two is that small shires have extremely limited resources to implement new policies and to innovate. They have large areas to physically maintain with roads, bridges and other infrastructure but they are also the places where rural inequity is most apparent, particularly in regard to food and diet. They are naturally conservative in approaches to change.

There is a disconnect between food and agriculture. There is another disconnect between agriculture (commodities - export-focus) and horticulture (domestic focus). Federal and state government policies support ag rather than hort. Note the backpacker tax debate last year, etc.

See the Rural City of Ararat’s submission to the federal govt’s Agricultural Competitiveness Green and White Paper process of 2014 in which it describes the paradox of sending fresh food to cities and receiving it back tired and approaching its use-by date:
(page 7)

LGs should approach food issues differently depending on where they are. Urban policies are relevant to metropolitan areas and regional cities. Rural areas, both large and small shires should have food policies right up there. They should be pressing for equity of food supplies for health and social wellbeing via regionalised food systems and distribution networks, advocacy to higher tiers of government to facilitate this and not get in the way and making their voices heard to ensure that current ag policies are appropriate to the scale, social needs and location of their particular shires. They could advocate for improvements and change at both levels. It is not a one-size-fits-all.

Local governments should advocate for state governments to have more nuanced policy responses that incorporate both current Big Ag but also room for locally appropriate policies.


@peterfkenyon this is fantastic, thanks so much for sharing all of that info!

Thanks Jen.

Here’s a link to the Moreland Food System Strategy of a more manageable size (1.1MB)

Moreland have included “Delivering on The Moreland Food System Framework to achieve a just, sustainable and vibrant Food System for Moreland” in their draft plan/budget which is out for community consultation until 20th June. Budget is $120k+$100k+$100k over next 3 years. Here’s a link to their webpage about the consultation

Here’s a link to the draft plan. You’ll find mention of it on page 22 of Appendix A.

I’m working on a submission which I’ll post when I have it.

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This is so informative, thank you so much for sharing!!