This database is a collection of policies from New South Wales (NSW) and Victorian local governments (LGs) that relate to healthy, sustainable, and equitable food systems.

For information on how to use the database, please read below and/or watch this instructional video.

To cite the database: Reeve B, Carrad A, Rose N, Charlton K & Aguirre-Bielschowsky I (2021) Australian Local Food System Policy Database. Available at: (access date).

Who and what was included?

The database contains information extracted from relevant policies from all LGs in NSW (n = 128) and Victoria (n = 79). Policy and strategic documents were collected from each LG’s website between July 2019 and June 2020. For NSW LGs, the Community Strategic Plan, Delivery Program, Operational Plan, and most recent Annual Report were always included. For Victorian LGs, the Council Plan, Strategic Resource Plan, Municipal Health and Wellbeing Plan, and most recent annual report were always included. Other relevant documents were identified by searching the policy and strategy registers on each LG’s website, including those that addressed topics such as: food, nutrition, health, and wellbeing; agriculture and gardening; environment, sustainability, and waste management; economy, tourism, and events; food safety; recreation, open space, and transport; social and cultural services; land use planning, growth management, and housing.

What was excluded?

  • Information that was not a formal, written document with objectives and actions. This included webpages, media releases, reports and discussion papers lacking action plans.
  • Documents that were not current at the time the website search was conducted.
  • Regional policies.
  • NSW Local Environment Plans, and Development Control Plans. Victorian Planning Schemes.

How did we analyse the documents?

We used a framework of recommendations for LG action on creating a healthy, sustainable, and equitable food system (see below). The recommendations were drawn from Australian academic research studies and reports, and governance frameworks created by international organisations, such as the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact. The framework comprises 34 topics grouped under eight domains.

Using a qualitative analysis software program, we highlighted relevant sections of each document’s text and ‘dropped’ these excerpts onto the associated topic(s). The ‘Relevant text in the policy’ search bar on the main page enables you to you search these excerpts.

Limits of the database

This database is a snapshot in time – it reflects policy documents available at the time the website search was conducted and not those since adopted or updated.

We do not have the capacity to update the database with new entries, but if you are interested in learning more about this research project, please refer to our main website page, or email Dr. Belinda Reeve, the project’s lead (

Some documents included in the analysis have been excluded from the database due to issues with font conversion between PDFs, the analysis software and Excel. Some text in the database will still appear as foreign characters.

We have not made available the data files contained in the database, but please contact Belinda Reeve if you are interested in these files.

Searching using ‘Suggested search terms’: Selecting one of the terms from the scrolling box will automatically copy this term into the box for ‘Relevant text in the policy’ and conduct the search.  To select multiple terms, hold the Ctrl key while you select terms. Searching for multiple terms using the ‘any words’ setting functions as an “OR” (e.g., beekeeping OR bee keeping OR bee-keeping), meaning you will see results for all those terms. Searching for multiple terms using the ‘all words’ setting functions as an “AND” (e.g., animal AND agriculture), meaning you will see only results that include both ‘animal’ and ‘agriculture’.

You can also use any of the filters to refine your search.

Searching by open text: You can enter any word or term into the ‘Relevant text in policy’ box using free text entry and then click ‘Search’.

Filters: You can search and/or filter by Domain, Topic, Council name, Council type (metropolitan or regional), and/or State. For example, selecting the Domain ‘Economic Development’ will show all results for that Domain. You can then refine the search by entering a term in the free text box and/or using the other filters.

Only particular combinations of Domain and Topic will return results. Please refer to the table showing the framework of recommendations to see which Topics are situated under each Domain.

If you select a specific Council name, you do not also need to use the Council type filter – this occurs automatically. Using the incorrect combination of these filters will result in zero results.

Recommended areas for action by local governments on creating a healthy, sustainable and equitable food system
Food System Policy
Develop a dedicated food system policy
Health and Wellbeing
Promote sustainable, healthy diets through education (including in childcare, school and other community settings), interactive workshops, events and festivals, health promotion and communication campaigns.
Support the provision of and access to safe drinking water and secure water supply.
Support programs and meal services providing healthy, sustainable food to vulnerable populations.
Promote traditional food cultures and traditional food growing, preparation practices and cooking skillsm including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander food cultures.
Develop procurement policies that support the provision of health, sustainable, locally, and equitably sourced food for when local governments (LGs) purchase or procure food (e.g., for LG meetings), and for food purchased or provided at LG-operated premises and LG-run services.
Ensure that affordable, healthy food retail is easily accessible, including for those without private transport, people with limited mobility and with other access needs.
Promote/support breastfeeding
Implement programs and environmental changes to promote healthy eating and water consumption by LG staff members.
Encourage existing food retailers and caterers to sell healthy, sustainable, and affordable food. 
Partner with sport clubs (not owned/operated by LG) to provide healthy food choices for participants and spectators.
Encourage the opening of fresh food outlets and discourage the opening of unhealthy food outlets
Develop and/or support implementation of sustainable, food-based dietary guidelines to inform consumers, city planners, food service providers, retailers, producers and processors.
Restrict advertising for unhealthy food and increase promotions for healthy food.
Restrict unhealthy food in vending machines under LG control
Provide dietary advice to women during pregnancy for healthy weight gain and adequate nutrition.
Use economic measures such as price promotions and subsidies to improve affordability/encourage consumption of healthier food products and discourage consumption of less healthy options
Sustainability and Environment
Promote/support sustainable local food production.
Support home and community gardening in private and public domains, including growing and composting food.
Support animal husbandry.
Promote or allow food production on land owned or managed by LG.
Strengthen the connections/coherence between food production, processing, distribution and consumption, and maintain infrastructure for local food distribution.
Establish/strengthen policies and programs on food supply and food system resilience.
Promote and support sustainable water management in agriculture and food production.
Promote local food processing based on sustainable approaches.
Promote increased crop and livestock diversity, local agrobiodiversity, and wild foods.
Economic Development
Support local and regional food initiatives, e.g., roadside sales, farm gate sales, and van sales, buy local campaigns, agritourism, and food-related tourism, including food trucks/mobile food vending.
Support local food producers and growers to conduct and grow their businesses, including in relation to farming and sustainability practices, technological innovations, and business administration.
Create jobs and facilitate training and employment pathways in the food and agricultural sectors.
Support public food markets (e.g., farmers’ markets and food co-ops) and other food distributors.
Food Waste
Reduce food losses and food waste and reduce food-related packaging waste
Food Quality and Safety
Ensure a safe food supply through education on food quality and safety and administering and enforcing food safety regulations
Social Policy
Support affordable housing.
Planning Frameworks
Modify housing/property designs to ensure adequate food storage and preparation areas.

LG: local government