University of Tasmania
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Food security and cultural identity of migrants in Tasmania

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posted on 2023-05-27, 11:44 authored by Yeoh, JS
The notion of food security encompasses the ability of individuals, households and communities to acquire food that is healthy, sustainable, affordable, appropriate and accessible. Despite Australia's current ability to produce more food than required for its population, there is substantial evidence that many Australians struggle to feed themselves, particularly those from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. This study was conducted in Tasmania in response to the lack of context-specific research evidence regarding the food security issues for migrants from different cultural backgrounds living in regional area of Australia. The study was guided by five objectives: (1) to examine the views of migrants from different cultural backgrounds on food security in Tasmania; (2) to identify the food security problems facing migrants from different cultural backgrounds who live in Tasmania; (3) to explore the social and cultural capital which enhances the food security of migrants; (4) to identify the acculturation strategies used by migrants from different cultural backgrounds in relation to food security in their new environment (Tasmania); and (5) to provide some suggestions for the enhancement of food security among migrants from different cultural backgrounds. The study employed a mixed methods design, with data collected using a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews. 600 hardcopy questionnaires were sent out to migrants living in Tasmania through the Migrant Resource Centres and ethnic community associations and the questionnaire was also available online. 301 questionnaires were returned completed (119 hardcopy and 182 online) giving a response rate of 50.2%. Follow-up semi-structured interviews were conducted with 33 migrants. The interview data underwent thematic analysis using NVivo software v10.0. In addition, descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyse the questionnaire data using SPSS 20.0 software. The study provided insights into the experience of food security for migrants living in a regional area of Australia (Tasmania) and the challenges that they face in relation to food availability, accessibility and affordability. Demographic variables including gender, region of origin, length of stay in Tasmania, English proficiency level and highest educational level were identified as influential factors affecting the food security of the migrants. The study provided a comprehensive understanding of the social and cultural capital used by the migrants as a means of enhancing their food security. Various acculturation strategies such as adjustment and adaption were employed by the migrants. Friends, family and community were identified as the main sources of support for the migrants to enhance their food security. Lastly, some recommendations were formulated for interested parties such as ethnic associations, government departments and non-government organisations, which would enhance the food security of migrants in their new social and cultural context. In summary, this study delivers greater insights into the food security needs, desires and challenges that are encountered by migrants from different cultural backgrounds living in regional Australia (Tasmania), thus offering meaningful implications for other migrant communities in Australia, relevant non-government organisations and government departments that address food security issues.


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