Transmission of Traditional Food Knowledge

Experiences and perspectives of young adults

  • Sai Pavani Divarkarla Australian National University
  • Rosalie Aroni
  • Stewart Sutherland Wiradjuri
Keywords: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander


Nutritional interventions have been included in government policy to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, whose social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB) is closely linked to culture. Given the connection of traditional food and food practices to culture, Country and community, promoting traditional food and food practices through community-led interventions may be a solution to improving health and nutrition interventions. However, a greater understanding of traditional knowledge transmission and acquisition is required. Currently there is a limited body of research on transmission of traditional food knowledge regarding young adults. The aim of this study was to gather the perspectives, attitudes and concerns of young adults regarding traditional food and food knowledge. This was achieved through in-depth, semi-structured interviews with young adults aged 25 to 35 living on Yuin land.  Results showed that traditional food knowledge was important for identity and SEWB by facilitating connection to family, community, culture and Country. Young adults had a strong desire to gain more traditional food knowledge and to transmit this knowledge to subsequent generations. However, this was limited by disconnection from knowledge-bearers and difficulties balancing knowledge acquisition with work and home responsibilities in their mainly Western cultural context.  Hence, interventions promoting traditional food knowledge amongst young adults have the potential to improve SEWB. However, as a pilot study, saturation was not reached, and larger-scale studies are required to support the results and conclusions.

Author Biographies

Sai Pavani Divarkarla, Australian National University

Sai Pavani Divakarla is a 2nd year Medical student at the Australian National University (ANU). Her interest in cultural determinants of health and culture-based and culture-specific healthcare delivery led her to join the Indigenous health stream in her degree. Additionally, her special interest in diet and nutrition prompted her involvement in this study. She has a strong research background owing to her undergraduate degree (Bachelor of Philosophy – Honours at ANU) <>

Rosalie Aroni

Dr. Rosalie Aroni is a social scientist whose research has focussed on health service delivery in relation to chronic disease (asthma, type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease) with a particular focus on culture and health. She is also an expert in qualitative and mixed methods research.

Stewart Sutherland, Wiradjuri

Stewart Sutherland is a Wiradjuri man. For over a decade he has worked in Indigenous health, in the arenas of trauma, mental health, cultural health, nutrition and raditional food sovereignty. His leadership in working with Indigenous communities and previous doctoral and subsequent research provided the team with strong knowledge at the coalface. He is currently working at the ANU School of Medicine as the lecturer of indigenous Health, where he is building on work of those before him, to ensure that Indigenous health and people are at the core.


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