The EON Thriving Communities Program has been delivered in 24 communities in Western Australia – 18 across the Kimberley region and six in the Pilbara.

Following an invitation from schools, communities and the Anindilyakwa Land Council in 2017, for the first time EON Foundation expanded its footprint outside of Western Australia and into three communities on Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory. In 2018 we commenced in 3 new communities in the Murchison/Mid-West region of WA and moved into a  further 9 communities in the Big Rivers Region of the NT in 2019.

The EON Thriving Communities Program takes a holistic approach to addressing the problems of food insecurity and poor nutrition in remote communities. It integrates four complementary components:

– EON Edible Gardens
– EON Healthy Eating
– EON Training and Education
– EON Healthy Homes.

The Program is delivered by an EON Project Manager with the help of local Aboriginal Community Assistants, employed by EON over a five year period. This builds trust and a reputation for reliability which is vital in fully engaging the community and sustaining the Program over the long term.

The EON Difference

The EON Thriving Communities Program is unique in Australia and offers a truly holistic nutrition-based approach, targeting the major challenges in remote Aboriginal communities – preventable disease, unhealthy lifestyles and food insecurity.

Our approach is different and is effective because:

  • It is a long-term practical approach developing community capacity through working partnerships rather than passive handouts.
  • It is about early intervention to remove ‘impediments to parity in education’ – good nutrition is vital for healthy brain development in infants. It gets kids fit for school and helps keep them in school.
  • It provides a secure supply of fresh food – vegetables, fruit and bush tucker – where there is typically little or none.
  • It builds trust and a reputation for reliability through our presence in community every fortnight for five years – vital in building community engagement, capacity and ultimately ownership.
  • It uses nutrition as a preventative approach to disease reduction – which has proven efficacy, is natural and low cost.
  • It uses gardens as an alternative to the classroom, engaging kids including those who struggle with conventional learning, outdoors, on the land.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote areas were more likely than those in non-remote areas to be living in a household that had run out of food and couldn’t afford to buy more (31% compared with 20%).

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

EON establishes partnerships with schools and communities to grow fruit, vegetables, bush tucker and medicinal plant gardens. The gardens become a source of freely available fresh, healthy food and a great outdoor classroom for the children.

The program:

  • Delivers sustainable access to fresh fruit and vegetables in schools and communities.
  • Improves awareness and understanding of the role of fruit and vegetables in a healthy diet.
  • Encourages children and adults to reconnect with the land and with elders to maintain traditional cultural knowledge around bush tucker and medicinal plants.
  • Educates and involves children and adults in the shared experience of growing, harvesting and preparing their home-grown food.
  • Provides a fun, hands-on learning environment for school lessons in maths, English, science and art.
EON Healthy Eating

Access to healthy food is not enough in itself. EON teaches children and their families the nutritional value of fruit and vegetables, how to prepare and cook healthy food and the importance of good nutrition in maintaining good health.

The program:

  • Educates children and adults about healthy lifestyle choices, nutrition, food hygiene and the value of each in preventing disease and maintaining good health.
  • Delivers practical hands-on food preparation and cooking workshops in garden-based ‘bush kitchens’, school kitchens and other community spaces.
  • Increases participants’ fruit and vegetable consumption.
  • Helps to reduce rates of nutrition-linked disease, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
EON Training and Education

EON provides formal and informal training and education, developing skills in horticulture and nutrition in schools and communities. This builds the capacity and confidence of local people to maintain the edible gardens and sustain EON’s Program over the long-term.

The program:

  • Provides Horticultural training for community members and school gardeners, including Certificate II in Horticulture (and above) in a joint venture with TAFE in the Kimberley and Pilbara.
  • Delivers training and mentoring of community assistants, many of whom are employed by EON.
  • Offers resource materials for teachers and community members to support them in developing and sustaining the Program – including EON’s Recipe Book, Edible Gardens Manual, Food Wheel and How to Grow Vegetables manual.
  • Offers lesson plans for teachers to help integrate the Program into classroom time.
EON Healthy Homes

EON delivers home hygiene workshops, providing the knowledge, tools and cleaning materials for people to maintain healthy and safe home environments.  This part of the Program was developed in response to requests from the community and in recognition that healthier homes are required to prevent communicable disease.

Workshops often take place in an individual’s home, by invitation, to tackle real problems. We aim to ensure food is stored, prepared and cooked in hygienic environments to ensure the benefits of nutritional improvements are not lost.

The program:

  • Raises awareness and demonstrates the importance of home hygiene to health and well-being.
  • Links other components of the Thriving Communities’ health and well-being message to the home environment.
  • Supports community members struggling with poor, inadequate or damaged home hardware.
  • Provides cleaning resources and equipment to low income homes.
  • Teaches simple, cost-effective cleaning practices to improve home health.