The shocking findings of our survey into the levels of food and water insecurity in Walgett have received widespread media coverage in multiple stories in the ABCSMH and elsewhere.

The survey was undertaken in 2022 as part of YN’s Food and Water for Life project which is led by the Dharriwaa Elders Group (DEG) and Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service (WAMS) and involves key collaborators from the George Institute for Global Health and Global Water Institute and is funded by a NHMRC grant.

The survey was designed to better understand the experiences of food and water security in Walgett. The questions were from the Household Food Insecurity Access Index Scale (HFIAS) and the Household Water Security Index Scale (HWISE) which are widely used around the world. WAMS, DEG and Aboriginal researchers led the design, implementation and analysis of the surveys.

251 community members participated in the surveys. We found that:

  • Almost half (46%) of the Walgett Aboriginal community members surveyed reported experiencing food insecurity (HFIAS ≥9) - this is much higher than the prevalence rates reported in previous national surveys for Australia.
  • Almost half (44%) of the Walgett Aboriginal community surveyed reported experiencing water insecurity (HWISE score ≥12) and water insecurity was experienced more severely (based on the mean HWISE score) in Walgett than in some communities in low- and middle-income countries (e.g., Bangladesh and Lebanon)
  • 91% of those surveyed said they were worried about water quality at some time in the last year and 60% reported that they were worried about water quality in most months in the last year
  • Previous reports on water quality revealed that the sodium content was around 300mg sodium/Litre – this is almost twice the accepted levels for palatability in the Australian government’s drinking water guidelines and around 15 times the levels recommended for people with hypertension
  • 30% of people surveyed experienced food and water insecurity. Participants that experienced water insecurity were more likely to experience food insecurity
  • Some respondents reported spending $30-50 dollars per week on bottled water, which made it challenging to afford healthy foods


A statement from the DEG and WAMS on the survey findings and their call for the NSW Government to establish an independent, multi-agency taskforce to address the issues is here:

YN Community Briefing Report: Key Findings from the Food and Water Security Surveys in Walgett