Health and Wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Although diet varied widely depending on season and location, the traditional diet of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people included many healthy plant and animal foods.

Most bush foods are low in saturated fat and high in fibre. Foods eaten traditionally include:

  • seasonal fruits
  • nuts
  • roots
  • vegetables
  • wild meats and game
  • fish and other seafood

As non-traditional foods became more widely available in Australia, there was a decline in hunting and availability of most Indigenous bush foods. As farming became more popular in Australia the environment changed and traditional bush foods became harder to find. This, together with a readily available non-traditional food supply has lead to changes in traditional Indigenous eating habits.

A non-traditional diet is typically higher in:

and lower in fibre than a traditional Indigenous diet.

Compared to non-Indigenous Australians, Indigenous Australians have higher levels of diet related disease such as:

It is important that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are provided with nutrition services that meet their specific needs. There are also cultural and spiritual losses associated with reduced hunting of traditional foods that should be considered in the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

An Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) can work with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers to meet these needs. Good nutrition for Indigenous people may involve combining traditional bush foods with other healthy choices available in Australia today.