Objective: To determine the current level of activity of Australian local governments in twenty-nine food and nutrition action areas and whether the level of activity had changed between 1995 and 2007.
Design: A cross-sectional study utilising a postal survey was undertaken of all local governments in Australia. The same instrument and protocol were used in 1995 and 2007.
Setting: Australian local governments.
Results: Local governments in Australia continue to be engaged in food and nutrition activities. This involvement has constricted in range in the last 12 years but higher levels of engagement are reported for several areas. The levels of involvement of local governments in the different states varied significantly, with Victoria reporting higher levels of involvement in several areas, particularly in food and nutrition activities related to community services. Local governments in New South Wales and Western Australia reported significantly lower levels of involvement in food and nutrition activities. Several factors may have contributed to these differences, including availability of resources and support, mandatory requirements by state governments, different attitudes of General Managers and
staff and availability of funds for special projects.
Conclusions: If Australian local governments are to be recognised and supported for their involvements in food and nutrition activities, more in-depth research is required to elucidate the factors that act as barriers or facilitate their on-going involvement in this important area. Support for local governments in rural areas to become or remain engaged in food matters should receive special consideration.