South West Food Community

Established in 2018, South West Food Community is a Systemic Innovation Lab that focuses on addressing food security in rural Western Australia. 

Systemic Innovation Lab 

Edith Cowan University

What is South West Food Community?

This pilot project is led by Dr. Stephanie Godrich and her team at Edith Cowan University and supported by the Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia and Wicked Lab. Wicked Lab developed the capacity of the core team to lead the lab, with team members attending the Complex Systems Leadership Program and Wicked Lab providing ongoing mentoring to support the lab's activities. 

​The objectives of the lab were to identify initiatives supporting healthy food availability, access, and utilisation in the South West region of Western Australia and understand how they were functioning as a system to enhance community-level food security. The lab also brought initiative owners together in a large group workshop to develop ways to strengthen existing initiatives and develop new initiatives that strengthened the food system in the region. 

What was the process South West Food Community undertook?  

As a Systemic Innovation Lab, South West Food Community followed Wicked Lab's six stage FEMLAS methodology;  Form, Explore, Map, Learn, Address and Share. 

The FEMLAS process supported the lab's core teams to: 

  • map the solution eco-system of initiatives and organisations working on food security in South West Western Australia,

  • use Wicked Lab’s online Tool for Systemic Change to identify opportunities to strengthen system change activities,

  • co-design innovations that strengthen food security initiatives and interventions within the region, and

  • improve how governments, elected members, and communities come together to create systems change for food security in the region


​The core team interviewed 51 initiative leaders/stakeholders about their food security initiative and mapped these against Wicked Lab's nine Focus Areas for Systems Change.  This data was entered into a Transition Card, that enabled the team to see opportunities to strengthen the food security system across the nine focus areas. Stakeholders were then invited to attend a large group workshop, where the initial findings of the project were presented and participants developed Systemic Innovation Action Plans to strengthen their food security initiatives. 

What were the outcomes of the lab? 

The lab was evaluated as part of an honours thesis at Edith Cowan University. The evaluation found that 25 changes had occurred throughout the system. These systems changes were a result of implementing the activities participants had identified in their Systemic Innovation Action Plans. 
 
The evaluation also found the lab had; 

  • helped raise awareness of food security in the region,

  • enabled participants to see themselves as part of a solution ecosystem, and

  • highlighted to participants how they could contribute to systems change.

What's next for South West Food Community? 

A major outcome of the pilot was that it identified the need for a centralised portal that shared information about activities such as events, research and training that were contributing towards food security in the region. The pilot received funding to develop the Food Community to address this need. 

Based on the success of the pilot, this project is currently being scoped for a scaled-up rollout across the whole of Western Australia. 

Publications

Rewa, J., Devine, A., Godrich, S., (2021) Evaluating the impact of a community-based food security project: The value in facilitating collaboration and understanding. Health Promot J Austral. ; 00: 1– 4. 

https://doi.org/10.1002/hpja.502

Rewa, J., Devine, A., Godrich, S., (2020), 
South West Food Community: understanding systemic change, and its associated challenges and successes, among food security projects, Aust N Z J Public Health, Volume 44, Issue 6 https://doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.13046

Godrich, S., Stoneham, M., Edmunds, M., Devine, A., (2020), 
South West Food Community: how government and community initiatives are supporting systemic change towards enhanced food security, Aust N Z J Public Health, Volume 44, Issue 2   https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32101359/​

Godrich, S.L.; Payet, J.; Brealey, D.; Edmunds, M.; Stoneham, M.; Devine, A. (2019) 
South West Food Community: A Place-Based Pilot Study to Understand the Food Security System. Nutrients, 11, 738.

 https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11040738