The kangaroo tail tax: Indigenous urban food altruism

Dr Margaret Raven1

1University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia


Remote Indigenous peoples in Australia consume the focus of policy interventions and research. However, more Indigenous people live in urban and regional areas than in remote areas. Despite this, we don’t know if urban and regionally located Indigenous peoples experience food insecurity in similar ways to remote Indigenous peoples.

This includes whether bush foods are used as part of a coping strategy by urban Indigenous peoples for period where they are unable to access food.

This paper presents findings from a case study with Indigenous people in a large urban town in Western Australia. This research pilot tested the US Household Food Security Module (HFSSM) with additional demographic and cultural protocols questions. The research found that while many of the respondents were food insecure, they had regular access to native bush foods to supplement their diet.

This paper explores the emergence of a theme in the research related to food altruism and the ways that it can be restricted at times. The story from a participant about the absence of a tail from a kangaroo, which they had ordered through family members, hints at the possible limits to food altruism that is mediated through family obligations.


Dr Margaret Raven is a Scientia Fellow, UNSW Australia. She previously worked as a Macquarie University Fellowship for Indigenous Researchers at Macquarie University, for the Australian Human Rights Commission, a Native Title Representative Body, and the WA Department of Aboriginal Affairs. Dr Raven is a geographer with research experience related to food insecurity for urban dwelling Indigenous people; Indigenous knowledge and protocols; and social policy evaluations.

Dr Margaret Raven

Scientia Fellow (Social Policy Research Centre; Environmental Humanities; and The George Institute for Global Health)

UNSW Australia


The Institute of Australian Geographers (IAG) is the principal body representing geographers and promoting the study and application of geography in Australia. It was founded in 1958 and since then has promoted, supported and defended Australian geography.

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