Remote health workers explore support for food stores

Health workers in remote First Nations communities are exploring new ways they can support local store operators to sell and promote healthy food and drink options, in an Australian first telementoring initiative by Health and Wellbeing Queensland. 

Over 30 health practitioners, public health dietitians and nutritionists from across Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia are dialling in weekly for eight weeks to Australia’s first Creating a Healthier Remote Stores Food Environment Project ECHO® series. 

“Evidence tells us just how important remote stores are to their local communities and that isn’t lost on us. I have seen first-hand the critical nature of these facilities,” Chief Executive of Health and Wellbeing Queensland, Dr Robyn Littlewood said.  

Health and Wellbeing Queensland Principal Lead – First Nations Communities, Dr Simone Nalatu reported that in remote communities the store was often the primary source of food and played a vital role in the diet and health of residents.  

“Health practitioners recognise this and want to be able to understand how to work with store managers and staff to support them while boosting customers’ healthy purchasing behaviours at the checkout. This online telementoring series is the first time we’ve been able to get everyone together to learn, share and upskill in this space.” 

“Food is one of our basic needs and underpins our physical, mental and social health and wellbeing, even social security.”

Danae Giardina

One participant in the series is Gidgee Healing Public Health Nutritionist and Dietitian, Danae Giardina who works with communities in Queensland’s Lower Gulf. “I’m undertaking the series because understanding how I can engage with and support stores and build relationships will be so valuable going forward,” she said.

“Food is one of our basic needs and underpins our physical, mental and social health and wellbeing, even social security. Gaining insights into what communities see as food security priorities into the future, and how I can work with them to develop actions, will be a big focus for me.”

The Series was developed by Health and Wellbeing Queensland in partnership with Monash University, The University of Queensland, Menzies School of Health Research, The Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation, Outback Stores, Murtupuni Centre for Rural and Remote Health and Refresh Centre of Research Excellence. The Project ECHO® format involves presentations and advice from topic experts, with a focus on group sharing, which everyone is encouraged to participate in.