EON was established in 2005 by Caroline de Mori and Katrina Burton. The founders were inspired to act when, in 2005, the Telethon Institute of Child Health Research published its longitudinal study into Aboriginal Child Health that highlighted the extremely poor health conditions faced by Aboriginal children, particularly those in remote communities. At the time it was evident that the larger programs operating in the field were not making a sufficient impact on the problem. Caroline and Katrina felt a practical ‘grass-roots’ and community based approach was required.

Who We Are

Founded in 2005, EON is a WA based not-for-profit organisation that delivers a food and nutrition focused healthy lifestyle and disease prevention program – the EON Thriving Communities Program.

EON operates in or has completed the Thriving Communities Program in 38 communities across WA and the NT. We currently deliver the program to 12 communities in WA across the Kimberley, Pilbara and Murchison regions; and 12 communities in the NT across Groote Eylandt and the Big Rivers Region. A number of communities in the West Kimberley have completed the program but continue to receive mentoring support.

We build edible gardens in remote Aboriginal schools and communities for a secure supply of fresh food, and partner with them to deliver a hands-on practical gardening, nutrition education, cooking and hygiene program.

EON is an incorporated body granted Deductible Gift Recipient Status by the Australian Taxation Office.

Our Vision

To make a lasting contribution in remote Aboriginal communities through the reduction of preventable and chronic disease caused by poor nutrition.

Our Mission

In partnership with remote Aboriginal communities and using edible gardens as a tool, deliver programs with a focus on health, nutrition, education and training that change community attitudes to healthy living.

  • More than one in five (22%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were living in a household where someone went without food when the household ran out of food compared with less than one in twenty (3.7%) in the non-Indigenous population.

    National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, 2012-2013

Why We Exist

The Aboriginal Health Gap is widest in remote communities as the following examples illustrate:

  • Middle ear infection in children is the highest in the world.
  • By age five, over 70% of children have some form of hearing loss due to infection.
  • Children suffer nutritional anaemia and malnutrition at 30 times the rate of Perth children.
  • Up to 50% of people develop type II diabetes, caused by poor diet.

It is recognised that 19% of the Indigenous Health Gap is caused by poor diet, particularly low fruit and vegetable consumption (National Strategy for Food Security in Remote Indigenous Communities, COAG 2009).

Poor nutrition is the norm in remote communities because of food insecurity – poor access to affordable, nutritious food – coupled with poor understanding of the value of good nutrition for health.

The consequences in remote communities are far-reaching because nutritional poverty and food insecurity have been identified as major impediments to health, educational and work outcomes.

As recently noted in the Forrest Review (2014) –

‘There is no disparity in employment between first Australians with a decent education and other Australians … (a solution) is only possible if we remove all the impediments to parity in education … unless a child has enough sleep and nutrition and arrives clean and properly clothed at school, he or she cannot learn’.

Poor nutrition causes compromised early childhood development, impaired capacity for learning and poor engagement in the education system. With this start in life adults struggle to get jobs and face the prospects of chronic ill-health and early death.

EON addresses one of the key factors impacting on poor health, education and employment outcomes in remote Aboriginal communities – poor nutrition.

Our Approach

The Health Gap cannot be bridged without remote communities having better access to fruit and vegetables, improved nutrition and hygiene.

Sometimes the solution is simple.  EON’s Thriving Communities Program tackles the problem in a practical hands-on way, partnering with communities and schools to grow fruit, vegetables and bush tucker and delivering the education and training they require to make the most of it for better health.

Generational change is required, so we have a strong focus on early intervention and children.  Nutrition, cooking and hygiene education is delivered as part of the regular school timetable and the garden becomes the classroom with great results for the engagement of children and particularly those who struggle with conventional learning.

EON only enters communities when we are invited to do so.  Our approach is to ‘walk alongside’ Aboriginal people, delivering the Program in community, regularly and over the long-term.  In this way we build trust and the capacity and confidence of the community to ensure a sustainable Program and health outcomes.

The Program has four components integrated for a holistic approach:

  • EON Edible Gardens
  • EON Healthy Eating
  • EON Healthy Homes
  • EON Training and Education

In fact, ours is the only holistic nutrition-based approach to the challenges of food insecurity and chronic preventable disease in remote Aboriginal communities.