A landmark survey into the impact of a grassroots, edible garden program for Aboriginal children in remote communities in Western Australia has shown significant positive health and education outcomes.
The cultivation of school and community gardens in 24 remote Aboriginal communities by EON Foundation has provided a sustainable supply of fresh fruit and vegetables, improved school attendance rates and resulted in reduced health presentations for students of all ages.
Launching the report, Indigenous Health Minister, Hon Ken Wyatt MP, said that he had been a supporter of EON Foundation from its inception and genuinely believed that EON had the right approach to improving health in remote Aboriginal communities.
“I’m proud to have been involved from EON’s first pilot edible garden and know, from my long career in Aboriginal Health, that remote communities need this program and access to fresh food at an early age to prevent debilitating diseases.”
He was pleased that the Federal Department of Health had recognised the impact of EON’s program and was supporting it to deliver its program in six remote communities.
EON Chairman, Caroline de Mori, said the report details the findings of a survey involving face-to-face interviews with more than 300 children and adult community members from 10 remote Western Australian communities participating in the EON Thriving Communities Program. It is the first time a survey of this scale and significance has been conducted.
“The report confirms the success of our practical approach which sees us working at a grassroots level in partnership with Aboriginal communities with EON visiting every fortnight over a five year period,” Ms de Mori said.
“We are very heartened by the results which demonstrate long-term behaviour changes, improved health outcomes, increased attendance and engagement of children at school and training and employment opportunities.”
The results of the survey show significant impacts for children and adults in terms of health and education. For example:
- 96% of teachers have seen positive changes in student attitudes and behaviours as a result of the EON program, plus positive impacts on student health and school attendance
- 91% identify EON as their primary source of learning about health and nutrition
- 91% believe it is important to eat fruit and vegetables
- 91% like learning how to cook healthy meals
- 54% talk to their family about how to be healthy, using the lessons learned from EON
- 92% would like to eat more fruit and vegetables
Established in 2005, EON is a WA not-for-profit organisation that delivers a food and nutrition focused healthy lifestyle and disease prevention program – the EON Thriving Communities Program.
After 12 years in operation, EON has partnered with 24 remote communities across the State’s Pilbara and Kimberley region, and thanks to new funding of $300,000 provided by the Department of Communities, the program will be launched in Western Australia’s Mid-West region for the first time in 2018.
Ms de Mori said demand continues to grow for the by ‘invitation-only’ EON Thriving Communities Program.
“We only partner with a community to establish the program when invited by the Elders and school of that community and only when a long-term commitment is given. It’s our practical, collaborative approach that is the key to the success of the program,” she said.
“Thanks to the commitment of $300,000 from the Department of Communities, we are looking forward to launching the program in Meekatharra, Yalgoo and Mt Magnet in the new year and we will continue to expand our reach and impact as further funding is secured.”
Please click here to access a copy of the EON 2017 Monitoring and Evaluation Report, EON 2017 Annual Report, the EON Program video and a selection of photos.
Caroline de Mori
P: 0418 919 064