This is a report about food insecurity in Victoria. It is based on findings from the 2014 Victorian Population Health Survey.

The report concludes that:

  • Food insecurity exists in Victoria and is a particular problem for specific populations such as adults who are unable to work, adults who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, the unemployed, and those with very low total annual household incomes.
  • Food insecurity is associated with both poor mental and physical health.
  • Food insecurity and obesity are strongly associated with each other.

Food insecurity exists ‘whenever the availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or the ability to acquire acceptable food in socially acceptable ways is limited or uncertain’ (Radimer and Radimer 2002). In its most severe form, people go without food and this is referred to as ‘food insecurity with hunger’. Less severe forms of food insecurity that we investigate in this report include people worrying about food insecurity and using coping strategies such as relying on unhealthy low-cost food and/or skipping meals to avoid going without food. These less severe forms of food insecurity are collectively referred to as ‘food insecurity without hunger’.

For the first time, this report investigates food insecurity in Victoria and explores its underlying determinants and associated health outcomes. The report identifies particularly vulnerable populations and local government areas that disproportionately experience food insecurity, providing the evidence base to consider broader policy options and targeted interventions. The report highlights the need for long-term solutions in addition to short-term solutions that relieve food insecurity but do not necessarily address its root causes.

The Victorian Population Health Survey provides an annual assessment of the health and wellbeing of adults living in Victoria to inform policymaking and assist the state government in planning and monitoring the progress towards better health and wellbeing.