Cardinia Food Circles



Cardinia Shire is experiencing a range of significant social and health challenges that negatively affect the health, wellbeing and quality of life of many residents. Tackling these challenges effectively requires a cohesive and systemic approach, guided by a shared vision and shared sense of responsibility and commitment across all institutions, organisations and residents of Cardinia.

Many of the serious challenges, such as the high rates of preventable hospital admissions resulting from diabetes, have their origins in the food system, as the extensive work of Healthy Together Cardinia (HTC) had documented in its work from 2012 – 2016. The HTC team, working in partnership with local food system stakeholders, has created a substantial knowledge base and supported a number of successful local projects and interventions which this project can build upon.

Cardinia Shire Council and Sustain have come together to share collective experience and knowledge and to take a collective approach to finding local solutions to local problems. The aim is to strengthen communities and build local food system resilience and food literacy among shire residents. Through this approach, Cardinia can be the first community in Australia to successfully address the obesity crisis through combined and mutually reinforcing strategies linked by the Cardinia Health and Wellbeing Plan.


Given the increasing levels of diet related illness in Cardinia Shire and the severely destructive impact of obesity on resident’s quality of life and our economic productivity, there exists a strong sense of urgency in Cardinia Shire for a game changing initiative.  An initiative is needed to address this complex and wicked health problem with sustained long term action led by all sectors of the community and in tandem with government departments and the philanthropic sector.

Cardinia Food Circles will build upon the extensive work of Healthy Together Cardinia. An ambitious 10-year vision and targets will be set, achievable if the Shire’s collective energies are harnessed towards the realisation of the shared vision of a healthy and sustainable local food system.


The Cardinia Food Circles Project aims to support the Shire of Cardinia, community food leaders and Shire residents in the establishment, promotion and expansion of a healthy, delicious, sustainable and fair food system for all Shire residents.

The project has a 10-year vision to:

  • Reduce the overweight and obesity rates by 30%
  • The ratio of healthy food outlets to fast food outlets is 1:1
  • Reduce per capita visits to fast food outlets in the Shire by 20%
  • 80% of the Shire’s population are food and health literate
  • 50% of the Shire’s population has regular (i.e. weekly) access to fresh fruit and vegetables within a 1km walk from their home.
  • An increase in local jobs and business opportunities in food and agriculture


  1. To build a shared understanding of the Cardinia food system, and its challenges and opportunities, amongst a diverse and representative group of stakeholders
  2. To establish a shared and widely understood definition and baseline of food literacy with shire residents and council officers
  3. To raise levels of food literacy across the shire, particularly amongst youth
  4. To build capacity amongst Council staff and councillors by integrating food systems thinking across different business units and within key Council plans and strategies
  5. To diversify food distribution and consumption in the shire, with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal and where possible local produce
  6. To support business innovation and local job creation in the shire’s food system.
  7. To advocate to other levels of government through research and case studies for changes in planning policy for better control around density and proximity to vulnerable communities of fast food outlets.

Shared Indicators

  • Participatory creation of a food systems profile for Cardinia as a baseline for the project, with periodic reviews to monitor progress
  • Participatory creation of a Cardinia Food Plan with prioritised strategies and actions
  • Participatory creation of a shared definition and baseline of food literacy for Cardinia
  • Increase food literacy levels by an agreed target over four years (2017-2021)
  • Food waste audit generated & packaged/processed food waste reduction strategy supported
  • Embed healthy food systems principles into key Council documents, departments and programs
  • Expand fresh food access by at least three new outlets per year (2017-21)
  • Investigate a showcase education and training ‘Centre for Food’ in Cardinia by 2021
  • An increase in families cooking and eating meals at home each week
  • Reduce per capita consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages

Collective Impact Model

The project will adopt a collective impact approach whereby a group of stakeholders from different sectors commit to a common agenda for solving a complex social problem. There are five conditions of success that together lead to meaningful results. These being:

  • common agenda;
  • shared agreement on the ways success will be measured and reported on;
  • mutually reinforcing activities;
  • continuous communication; and
  • backbone support (an independent, funded staff resource dedicated to the initiative to coordinate the activities).

Initially, Sustain will assume the backbone function and over the life of the initiative the function will transfer to Council and the community. Both Sustain and Cardinia Shire Council are committed to support the development of leadership capability and value the expertise within the community so that sustained outcomes can be achieved.

Spirit of Co-operation

The partnership between Sustain and Cardinia Shire Council is based on the shared view that collective impact will provide a long term opportunity to address the issue of food sustainability and food literacy in the community through a community action approach. It’s anticipated that other partners will join this collective approach over time, as we build the new Cardinia Food System.

Council and Sustain respect each other’s roles and seek mutually supportive and cooperative arrangements in order to achieve the best outcomes for Cardinia Shire communities. The partnership will work together to ensure that cooperative arrangements, policies and programs provide residents of Cardinia Shire with an opportunity to find local solutions for a local problems.

Both parties recognise that the partnership is built on trust, open communication and respect for the skills and expertise provided by each partner.

Key activities for 2017 include:

  • mapping existing and previous food systems work and organisations in the municipality
  • identifying and working with food champions and food leaders in Cardinia to establish a Cardinia Food Network
  • working with local stakeholders to generate a food systems profile for Cardinia as a project baseline
  • working with local stakeholders and organisations such as SAKGF to generate a locally-relevant definition of food literacy, and conducting a Shire-wide survey to establish a food literacy baseline
  • working with SAKGF, Richmond AFL club and others to establish a Healthy Schools Network
  • holding a Cardinia Food Summit (April / May 2017)
  • training a team of 10 local food systems animators, and working with those animators to generate a Cardinia Food Plan (this will not be completed till around June 2018)
  • working with internal stakeholders across different Council units to achieve significant Council-wide support for the project, and to embed its principles in the Heath and Wellbeing Plan.

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