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Nutrition and food safety

Why is food and nutrition important?

After settling in Australia, people often change their food intake, as well as their physical activity levels. This leads to problems with weight gain and increased risk of many chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and some cancers.

The main issues are:

  • People from emerging communities may associate some high calorie 'Australian foods' with high social status or wealth. This includes some brands of soft drink, confectionary and high fat, cheap, takeaway foods.
  • People report that Australian fruits and vegetables taste different to the same item in their home country.
  • Lack of access to traditional fruits and vegetables.
  • Lack of knowledge of vegetables and fruits available in Australia and their preparation can also reduce their intake.
  • People may not know that tap water is safe to drink and should be their main fluid.
  • Some people drink too little for their health after years of restricting their fluid intake in refugee camps.
  • Food safety can be an issue, especially for people who are not used to the kitchen equipment found in most Australian kitchens.

Food and nutrition project activities

The cooking, eating and learning project

This project taught men from refugee backgrounds to cook simple meals as part of their English classes, using one simple and cheap appliance - a rice cooker. If you would like a copy of our recipes or the report on this project, email

Nutrition research: Food and drinks choices of the South Sudanese community

This research explored the South Sudanese community's journey over 17 years settlement in Logan City, Australia to establish new norms around food choices and practices. The results of the research will be used to co-design future strategies to support community members to make healthy food choices. This research project was part of Metro South Health's Healthy New Communities project and completed in partnership with the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). The project was funded as part of the Logan Community Health Action Plan. If you would like more information on this research, please email

Nutrition resources

Healthy drinks

Some migrants to Australia may be confused by the range of drinks available in Australia. In many countries, water is unsafe and needs to be boiled or bottled water purchased. A key message of the ‘Healthy drinks’ resources is that tap water in Australia is safe to drink and the healthiest choice for all the family. These resources use easy English and pictorial health messages.

Videos: Healthy drinks

Print material

Clinical guides

School lunchboxes

Families that are newly arrived in Australia often request information on how to prepare school lunches. This is a new skill for many migrants because in most other countries lunches are provided by the school or children go home to eat lunch.

These resources use easy English and pictorial health messages.

Videos: School lunchboxes

Print material

Early life food resources

Breastfeeding your baby is a simple English, pictorial video on breastfeeding. It is for people who are newly arrived in Australia who are learning English.

Time to start solids for your baby is a simple English, pictorial video on introducing solid food for your baby. It is for people who are newly arrived in Australia who are learning English.

Food safety resources

The Safe food, safe kitchens resource shows where to store food in the refrigerator. This resource is translated into 12 languages and two audio files..




The Keeping food safe video describes basic food safety steps. It is designed for people migrating to Australia from countries where English is not the spoken language, especially those who do not have experience in food preparation. It uses a simple English and pictorial format.

Lactose intolerance

In many countries, lactose intolerance occurs in more than 90% of the population. The Lactose intolerance video explains what it is, which foods and drinks are high in lactose and what low lactose foods can be used instead. This information is provided in an easy English, cartoon video format.

School tuckshop resources

The Healthy New Communities program partnered with and funded the Queensland Association of School Tuckshops (QAST) to produce a range of resources to support children from emerging communities to access the school tuckshop; support tuckshop convenors and to promote volunteering in the school tuckshop. Links to the QAST resources are listed below.

Resources for students and families

Teacher guides

Resources to promote volunteering by families with a refugee background

Resources for tuckshop convenors working with students and volunteers

Nutrition project partners

TAFE Queensland's Loganlea Campus, Queensland Association of School Tuckshops (QAST).


Last updated 25 May 2021
Last reviewed 25 May 2021