In 2011 Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin received advice about how to encourage people in the remote areas to consume less soft drink. One of the policy responses has been to install water bubblers in Indigenous communities. The high consumption of soft drinks and other sugary drinks are associated with a number of health problems, including overweight and obesity, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and dental caries.
In 2014 PHAIWA in partnership with Diabetes WA received an Australian Health Promotion Association (AHPA) Health Promotion Graduate Scholarship to implement a project to address soft drink consumption in Aboriginal communities. The project aimed to reduce soft drink consumption through the installation of water fountains and in-store strategies to promote water over soft drink and identify additional policy solutions.
A project overview can be found here.
Staff from PHAIWA and Diabetes WA travelled to the Kimberley to visit the Aboriginal communities of Bidyadanga and Djarindjin. As part of this trip, the team worked with the community store managers to identify ways to promote water. A range of strategies were discussed with the store owners including running lunchtime meal deals that have water as the beverage option, dedicating prime shelf space within the stores to water, introducing smaller cans of soft drink, and putting up posters that highlight the health benefits of choosing water instead of soft drink.
The communities were very supportive of the project strategies and felt that installing a water fountain was a great way to reduce soft drink consumption. The local Bidyadanga school children (pictured below) said they would use the water fountain often as they walk past it on their way to school making it easy for them to stop and quench their thirst.
The project was completed late 2014. You can read the evaluation results here.
Ciarn Dean and Shalayah Smiler enjoying the water fountain in Bidyadanga (below) and Western Beach, Cape Leveque (below right)