Submission – Inquiry into Food Security in Australia

In December 2022, WBTiAUS in collaboration with the Australian Breastfeeding Association and several academics from Australian National University, Western Sydney University, and Deakin University made an important submission to Federal Inquiry into Food Security in Australia. It is time to reframe breastfeeding as a food security issue.

Globally, women have an important but under-recognised role in food systems and food security, particularly in the provisioning of infants and young children with nurture, food, and care (Van Esterik 2018, UN Women 2021). Breastfeeding is arguably the world’s shortest and most valuable food supply chain, and the mother-child dyad is a sustainable food system in itself, delivering both nutrition that enables normal growth and development and food security when fully supported and protected. Breastfeeding needs support and provides secure nutrition in emergencies. Without breastfeeding, infants depend on commercial milk formula, whose supply chains are vulnerable to disruption, as illustrated in May 2022, when Australia responded to the US infant formula crisis (Salmon, Smith et al. 2022).

Food security for infants and young children is readily disrupted when breastfeeding is not protected, promoted and supported. There is a clear relationship between food security and women’s and children’s rights to breastfeed and ensuring their bodily, psychological, cultural, and economic security and political representation (UN Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Food 2016, Stone and Smith 2022).

As a leading group of national women’s organisations and supporters with expertise in breastfeeding, food systems policy, food security, and infant feeding in emergencies, we welcome the opportunity to make a submission to the inquiry on Food Security by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Agriculture. We call for breastfeeding women and breastmilk, as the critical first food for infants and young children, to be recognized as integral to ‘first food security,’ and central to national policy responses to food security.

In February 2023, this submission was rejected by the Standing Committee for Agriculture. The WBtiAUS team and ABA wrote to each Standing committee member asking for a review of this decision.

On March 8th 2023 we were informed that our submission has now been accepted. We look forward to hearing the results of the inquiry.


2 thoughts on “Submission – Inquiry into Food Security in Australia

  1. Thanks for the update Naomi . Thank you again Libby & others for your valuable time with the submission.

    Sadly it’s a very disappointing result. I’m certain we will keep chipping away .

    Keep Safe

    Decalie Brown 0414 637 340



    1. Thanks Decalie, it is however an important step in the process to insert breastfeeding into food security discussion.


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