Back to the Bush

By Roslyn Giglia
Nutrition and Food Security Manager, Foodbank WA

 

I took a job as the Public Health Dietitian for the Goldfields region in March 1998. This region is three times the size of Victoria and stretches from Kalgoorlie, up to the Pilbara region, down to Esperance and out to the WA/SA border. I loved it, and the fact that I got to fly with the RFDS to remote Aboriginal communities and towns all over the region.

I was therefore really excited to travel with our Pilbara Strategy team on a trip in September to visit the towns of Nullagine and Jigalong, and to see how remote towns fare two decades on from my stint in the bush.  Most importantly as the Nutrition and Food Security Manager, in charge of the Healthy Food for All team at Foodbank WA (FBWA), I was very interested to see how the Foodbank Public Health Nutritionists deliver the Food Sensations® program in the challenging Pilbara region.

First impressions are hard to beat and from the get go, I was nothing but impressed with the Pilbara Strategy team of nutritionists. Their ability to engage the communities and work seamlessly alongside, teachers, childcare workers and other service providers when delivering the Food Sensations® program to children and parents was only outshone by the engagement of the children throughout the trip. It was truly gratifying to see the children ‘get’ the importance of attempting to choose fruit and vegetables, even when these foods are not that available to them.

Although a rewarding experience, going back to the bush was also slightly disheartening. I was reminded of just how difficult the conditions in remote WA communities continue to be. There seems to have been little change in 20 years, and many upstream barriers still exist for people trying to make small but tangible shifts to improve the healthiness of their life. The importance of the support provided by BHP to the FBWA Pilbara Strategy team to address these barriers cannot be underestimated as the team see incremental improvements in the outcomes of their program delivery with each and every visit.