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Not-for-profit retail operator Community Enterprise Queensland (CEQ) has appointed a new Nutrition and Wellbeing Manager to drive healthier living in remote Cape York and Torres Strait Islands communities.

Melinda Hammond, who has more than 30 years of experience in nutrition, healthy lifestyle promotion, and chronic disease prevention, is a passionate advocate for remote food security.

Originally trained as a clinical dietitian, she has spent most of her career working for State and Federal governments in public health and primary health care, as well as more than seven years with Apunipima Cape York Health Council working alongside First Nations remote communities to improve health outcomes.

Melinda has also spent time in the university sector setting up nutrition and diabetes courses at James Cook University, and has longstanding relationships with leading remote food supply and diabetes researchers at Menzies School of Health Research, University of Queensland, and Monash University.

CEQ currently supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through various healthy living programs across its remote stores.

These include the IBIS Healthy Choice, and Healthy Eating, Healthy Life, and Gather and Grow programs, which are focused on promoting healthier choices within each store.

“It is such an exciting time to be joining CEQ,” said Melinda.

“While there is no denying that chronic disease and health concerns are a serious issue facing remote communities in North Queensland, there is so much that can be done through prevention.

“We have the evidence now on what works to create healthy food environments in remote stores.

“In this new role, my objective is simply to get on with the job of working in partnership to implement what works to make healthy choices the easy choices for the communities we service.”

“The Nutrition and Wellbeing Manager role is my first appointment as CEO, and as such I want to signal that we take our social responsibility seriously.

“Improving the overall health and wellbeing of our team and the communities we serve isn’t something we can do by sitting on the sidelines. We need to be proactive and this appointment is the start of that.

“We’ve spent many years improving the quality of fresh fruit and vegetables in all our stores, so now’s a perfect time for Melinda to come in and further improve our health outcomes.

“Melinda’s a great person to help make things happen, she’s a real driving force in health promotion, and is well known across Far North Queensland.

“We’re confident that Melinda will drive change and healthier choices across our entire store network.”

CEQ Chief Executive Officer Michael Dykes said the appointment of Melinda in the Nutrition and Wellbeing Manager role shows CEQ’s commitment to healthy choices for its customers.

“It’s a real coup for CEQ to have someone of Melinda’s calibre join the organisation, and we’re delighted to have her on board with us,” he said.

CEQ is a not-for-profit organisation responsible for providing goods and essential services to the Torres Strait, Northern Peninsula Area (NPA), mainland Aboriginal remote communities, and Palm Island through its 28 stores.

CEQ’s Store Support Office is based in Cairns and manages Islanders Board of Industry and Service (IBIS) and Aboriginal Business, Industry and Service (ABIS) mainland stores, as well as other stores including Col Jones and Mitre 10 on Thursday Island (CHH).