Local innovation in food system policies: A case study of six Australian local governments

Publication Name

Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development


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.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access





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Funding Sponsor

Australian Research Council



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