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Fixing food security problem a passion for University Medal recipient


Jessica Nelson
21 June 2018

Did you know 1 in 6 Australians suffers from not having secure access to food?

New research from Southern Cross University Bachelor of Psychological Science with Honours graduand Meg Saunders shows that although 17 per cent of Aussies don’t have access to either enough food or enough nutritious food, most people in this country do not believe the issue exists.

“My research examines whether you need to have experienced food insecurity to understand that it exists. The results showed people who had experienced inadequate access to food seemed to know a lot more about it than anyone else,” Ms Saunders said.

“Most other people had never heard about the food insecurity issue at all, and if they had heard of it had never experienced it, so were likely to believe that everyone has access to food or that it is not a big problem, or would view people who suffer from it in a negative light.”

When discussing food insecurity, Ms Saunders said most people identify the issue as synonymous with homelessness, when in fact the groups who are often worst affected are the elderly, single parents, the unemployed and students who are struggling to make ends meet.

“The biggest way of trying to solve the problem is through food relief charities, but they are unable to keep up with demand. It’s a topic not often spoken about and is such a hidden issue in Australia. I believe if more people understand the issue through awareness then more can be done to solve the problem.”

Ms Saunders will receive the University Medal for her First Class Honours research, the highest academic accolade, at the Coffs Harbour graduation ceremony this Friday.

In what is a double gold graduation day for the psychology program, Holly Sansone will also be awarded the University Medal for her Psychological Science with First Class Honours thesis which explored behavioural addictions to exercise.

Ms Saunders said her food insecurity thesis was a passion she followed, and never expected to be awarded so handsomely for her work.

“To be awarded the prize for academic excellence really is an amazing unexpected achievement and I’m stoked,” the 25-year Coffs Harbour local said.

“I studied my final two years at Southern Cross University after two years studying at a metropolitan university, and I cannot state how incredible the staff at Southern Cross have been, offering so much support and help. I wouldn’t have achieved this without them.”

Four Doctors of Philosophy will be awarded, along with a Master of Education by Research. The Occasional Address will be delivered by Aunty Bea Ballangarry, a local Coffs Harbour Elder. Around 150 students will receive their testamurs at the 10am ceremony at Southern Cross University’s Coffs Harbour campus.