What motivated you to work with the Monash Warwick Alliance?
The Monash Warwick Alliance provided teaching and research grants for international collaboration on issues of food insecurity - the limited or uncertain availability of individuals' and households’ financial, physical and social access to enough safe, nutritious and culturally relevant food in a socially acceptable way.
This is a complex public health issue affects the wellbeing of adults and children in high income countries like Australia and the UK. Why complex? There are many influencing and interrelated factors that contribute to food insecurity including (but not limited to) adequate income, employment, housing, cost of living expenses. In Australia and the UK the dominant response has been to provide people with emergency food relief through the charitable sector, for example via food banks and food pantries. While we need a ‘food safety net’ for people experiencing food insecurity these approaches do not address the causes of food insecurity and fail to prevent households from falling into food insecurity or help them get out in the long term.
What is required is a range of responses that include interventions and policies to address the causes. This collaboration allowed two very different areas of research to work together - my area of public health nutrition (Dept of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food at Monash) and Dr Martine Barons' statistical modelling (Applied Statistics and Risk Unit, Warwick) to understand food insecurity to work together to further understand food insecurity and to develop a decision support tool for policy development and food insecurity program delivery. The MWA grant allowed us to progress our research as well as develop a food security education series that is used in our under-and postgraduate programs at Monash and Warwick.
What have been your top three collaboration achievements so far?
The MWA grant allowed us to progress our research and develop a food security education series. This was a participatory research programme and so we involved those who are at risk of, or experiencing, food insecurity to participate and have a voice. So far we have presented our finding through:
national and international interdisciplinary conferences
publications and other materials including web-based communication
and develop these into educational resources for our under-and postgraduate programs at Monash and Warwick.
What do you hope to ulitmately achieve through your collaboration?
Our vision is to build a range of responses that includes interventions and policies to address the causes of food insecurity and develop a decision support tool to assist policy development and decision making in food insecurity programs.
Can you share one fun fact about yourself or your work?
I have a golden retriever who I love taking out for walks.