sustain: the Australian food network


Sustain was formed in 2015. It is based in Melbourne, Australia, and currently hosted by the William Angliss Institute. The organization emerged out of the Food Alliance., which itself was founded in 2009. It was under the Food Alliance that the Circles of Food methodology was developed, as were the terms of the Urban and Regional Food Declaration. These developments are now centre-pieces of Sustain’s work.


Sustain was established for the public purpose of promoting health and wellbeing through a broader food-systems approach. The objects of this activity include the following:

To support local governments to adopt and implement policies to protect, improve and promote the public health of their communities;

To build the capacity of food system stakeholders to adopt and implement diverse changes to protect and enhance the health of all Australians;

To establish and co-ordinate the Australian Food Network;

To facilitate the development of communities of food-system practice;

To support and publish community-engaged food systems research; and

To provide food systems advice, consultancy and training services for the promotion and development of healthy and sustainable food systems.


Sustain works together with governments, the community-health sector, research institutions and other key food-system stakeholders across the public, private and community sectors to support the development of food systems that are fair, connected, healthy and sustainable.


The Board of Sustain contains representation from several leading food-systems organisations:

Kelly Donati (Chair), Lecturer, William Angliss Institute; Board Member, Slow Food Melbourne
Ange Barry (Treasurer), CEO, Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation
Dr Paul Whitelaw (Secretary), Director of Higher Education, William Angliss Institute
Greg Jacobs, Team Leader, Health Department, City of Melbourne
Miranda Sharp, Director, Melbourne Farmers Markets
Professor Paul James, Director, Institute of Culture and Society, University of Western Sydney
Richard Lange, Consultant, Organic Dairy Farmers, Geelong
Kathy McConell, Practising Dietician and Former Coordinator of the Food Alliance 

executive director

Dr Nick Rose has extensive policy, research and practical experience with food systems, food security and food sovereignty. A Churchill Fellow and a Global Advisor to the United Nations Global Compact Cities Programme, he has extensively researched the potential of urban agriculture in the United States, Canada, Argentina and Australia to address food security, resilience and sustainability challenges. He is editor of Fair Food: Stories from a Movement Changing the World. He was the  principal founder and former national co-ordinator of the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (2010-2015). He has worked in advisory and consultancy capacities with local governments in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia. And he is currently teaching and researching food systems and food studies at the William Angliss Institute.


Sustain is currently funded by a grant from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation. It also generates a small but growing portion of its own revenue through memberships, events, and consultancies.

legal Support

Sustain acknowledges the pro-bono public-interest law support of Arnold Bloch Leibler, Lawyers and Advisers.  ABL came on board as Sustain’s honorary advisors in mid-2015 to help establish Sustain and achieve our charitable tax concessions.  ABL continues to work with Sustain in the areas of corporate governance and taxation. Arnold Bloch Leibler is a premier Australian commercial law firm with a long history of giving back to the community.  ABL offers strategic legal advice in the public interest to defend or assert rights, develop the law, or improve the administration of justice. Its clients are active in the cultural, health, religious, Indigenous and environmental sectors.

circles of food method

The Profile Process for Food Assessment and the Food Charter were developed by the Food Alliance, the Melbourne-based group that became Sustain. Individuals involved in drafting the profile included Robert Aitkenhead, Kate Archdeacon, Lucy Gaylard, Paul James, Julia Laidlaw, Kathy McConell, Di McGrath, Nick Rose, Harin de Soysa, Zainil Zainuddin, and many others. Circles of Food is part of the more comprehensive Circles of Social Life approach. There were numerous consultants involved in setting up this broader method. For Metropolis, the Framework Taskforce comprised Paul James (Melbourne), Barbara Berninger and Michael Abraham (Berlin); Tim Campbell (San Francisco), Emile Daho (Abidjan), Sunil Dubey (Sydney), Jan Erasmus (Johannesburg), Jane McCrae (Vancouver), and Om Prakesh Mathur and Usha Raghupathi (New Delhi). The developers of the overall matrix included Paul James, Liam Magee, and Andy Scerri, with Martin Mulligan, John Smithies and Manfred Steger and others.

Donate to Sustain: The Australian Food Network? Our charity status makes all donations 100% tax-deductable.