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​Mob vs mob at prison Koori Cook Off

Published date: Tuesday, 20 August 2019

[PDF version of this media release]

Corrective Services NSW staff have gone head-to-head with minimum-security inmates in a Koori Cook Off as part of NAIDOC celebrations at the South Coast Correctional Centre, in Nowra.

It was tongs at ten paces as four teams of Aboriginal inmates and staff used bush tucker ingredients to create healthy, modern dishes in a blind cook-off inside the prison on Friday.

Aboriginal Services and Programs Officer Stanley Jarrett said the event provides Aboriginal inmates an opportunity to maintain a connection to their culture.

“Culture plays an extremely important role in Aboriginal life so these NAIDOC celebrations are an important way for Aboriginal inmates to maintain that connection to their people and communities,” Mr Jarrett said.

“Our centre is always looking for opportunities to support Aboriginal inmates – whether it be through art programs, cultural camps or speaking with inmates in yarning circles – and this cook-off is another way we can continue to do that.

“These inmates are nearing the end of their sentences so many of them will be able to take the practical cooking skills and knowledge they’ve learned in the competition and use those skills when they return to the community.”

The Koori Cook Off is a Heart Foundation initiative to promote healthy eating while connecting Aboriginal people to traditional foods and culture.

The event was chosen to compliment the 2019 NAIDOC Week theme Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let's work together for a shared future by encouraging participants to share their culture through traditional foods.

On Friday, each team was provided with a mystery recipe, bush tucker and other ingredients, and a one-hour cooking deadline.

A panel of judges scored the teams on colour, presentation and taste. The Green team of staff and inmates were crowned the winners with their Emu Sliders meal.

Heart Foundation Regional Health Promotion Coordinator Andy Mark said the friendly competition – the first of its kind in a NSW prison - is a great opportunity to educate inmates about healthy eating options, portion control and salt-reduction strategies.

“After humble beginnings in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions, Koori Cooks Offs are now being held in locations across NSW, and we are very pleased to be working with Corrective Services NSW to introduce the idea in this new setting,” Mr Mark said.

“As the participants discovered today, Koori Cook Offs are a lot of fun, but they also prove that healthy food doesn’t have to be boring, complicated or expensive. It’s easy to make tasty tucker that is good for your heart and your overall health.

“With heart disease being a leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, this message has never been more important.”