Local innovation in food system policies

A case study of six Australian local governments





Food System, Local Government, Health, Policy Development, Policy Implementation, Sustainability, Australia, Case Study


Australian local governments undertake a range of activities that can contribute to a healthy, sustain­able, and equitable food system. However, their engagement in food system governance is highly uneven, and only a handful have developed dedi­cated food system policies. This article reports on case studies of food system policy development and implementation in six local governments in the states of New South Wales and Victoria. The main motivators for policy and program development were to improve environmental sustainability, reduce food waste, improve diet-related health and food security, and support local, sustainable agri­culture. Key steps included consulting with the community, identifying local food-related issues, and developing policy solutions. Local government activities targeted many dimensions of the food system, and policy implementation processes included hiring dedicated food system employees, creating partnerships with organizations outside local government, advocacy to higher levels of gov­ernment for policy and legislative change, and pro­gram evaluation. The research also identified key enablers of and barriers to policy development and implementation, including factors internal to local government (e.g., presence/absence of local cham­pions, high-level leadership, and a supportive inter­nal culture) as well as important state- and federal-level constraints, including absence of comprehen­sive policy frameworks for food and nutrition, of dedicated funding for local government food sys­tem work, and of leadership for food system gov­ernance from higher levels of government. The authors conclude with recommendations for strengthening the role of Australian local govern­ments in creating a healthy, sustainable, and equita­ble food system, applicable to both local govern­ments and to Australian state and federal govern­ments. These recommendations may also be useful to local governments in other national jurisdictions.


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Author Biographies

Amy Carrad, University of Wollongong

B Pub Health (Hons), Ph.D.; Researcher, School of Medical, Indigenous and Health Sciences

Lizzy Turner, The University of Sydney

Graduate Certificate in Food Systems & Gastronomy; Research Assistant

Nick Rose, William Angliss Institute of TAFE

LLB, MICD (Masters of International and Community Development), Ph.D.; Lecturer, Faculty of Higher Education

Karen Charlton, University of Wollongong

Ph.D., Adv. APD, RPHNutr.; Professor, Nutrition & Dietetics, School of Medical, Indigenous and Health Sciences, Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute

Belinda Reeve, The University of Sydney

BA (Hons), LLB, Ph.D.; Senior Lecturer, The University of Sydney Law School



How to Cite

Carrad, A., Turner, L., Rose, N., Charlton, K., & Reeve, B. (2022). Local innovation in food system policies: A case study of six Australian local governments. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 12(1), 115–139. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2022.121.007