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Health promotion is a powerful, cost effective and efficient way to maintain a healthier community. It enables people to increase control over and improve their health.

About VicHealth

Our role

The focus of our work is on promoting good health and preventing ill-health.

The Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, best known as VicHealth, works in partnership with organisations, communities and individuals to make health a central part of our daily lives.

The focus of our work is on promoting good health and preventing ill-health.

Today, we have a broader understanding of health than ever before. How much you earn, your social position, your level of literacy or your capacity to be involved in sport or creative activities that help connect you to others in your community are as important to determining your health and wellbeing as the medical care you receive when ill.

We also know that in the industrialised world the greatest burden of disease is related to illness that can be prevented through lifestyle changes. In Australia, chronic diseases cause 80% of the total burden; and heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease and cancer all have poor nutrition and physical inactivity as important risk factors.

Promoting health by fostering change in social, economic, cultural and physical environments underpins our mission. Of course, raising awareness is important to achieve change, both for individuals and the community. We aim to build opportunities for people to be informed, learn new skills, have greater access to activities that promote good health, and share healthier environments.

The principles guiding our strategic focus are consistent with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) directions for health promotion set out in The Jakarta Declaration on Health Promotion, Leading Health Promotion into the 21st Century 1997, and the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion 1986.

The key points of relevance are:

  • building healthy public policy
  • funding appropriate structures for health promotion delivery and development
  • promoting shared community responsibility for improving health
  • creating environments that support healthy choices
  • developing and supporting partnerships for health
  • increasing the community’s skills and resources to promote healthy behaviours and empowering individuals to make informed decisions
  • developing personal knowledge and skills

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Mission and values

We work across many sectors to broaden the benefit of health promotion strategies.

VicHealth envisages a community where:

  • health is a fundamental human right
  • everyone shares in the responsibility for promoting health
  • everyone benefits from improved health outcomes

Our mission is to build the capabilities of organisations, communities and individuals in ways that:

  • change social, economic, cultural and physical environments to improve health for all Victorians
  • strengthen the understanding and the skills of individuals in ways that support their efforts to achieve and maintain health

To help us deliver on our proposed outcomes, strategy and vision we need a skilled, engaged and committed workforce. At VicHealth you’ll find a group of dedicated people who embrace a clearly defined and agreed set of values:

Work together

Adding value to each others’ work through collaborative and cooperative relationships.

Be honest

Creating trust through open, straightforward communications and honest work practices.

Engage others respectfully

Enhancing mutual wellbeing by treating everyone fairly and with dignity.

Challenge and be challenged

Fostering innovation by encouraging robust debate.

Be eco-wise

Protecting our future health by implementing environmentally sustainable practices.

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Strategic priorities

We work in collaboration with a range of individuals, groups and organisations.

Improving the health of all Victorians

Our strategic priorities to 2009 include a focus on innovation, building and sharing health promotion knowledge, and working across many sectors to broaden the benefit of health promotion strategies.

With support across the political spectrum, we improve health by working in collaboration with a range of individuals, groups and organisations from many sectors. These include sport, health, planning, transport, local government, education, community and the arts.

Our activities reflect national and state public health priorities. We focus on improving the health of all people in Victoria while reducing the differences in health status between different population groups.

We support the development of leadership and skills in public health, and we develop strategic alliances with national and global public health organisations to strengthen health promotion action and advocacy.

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Stakeholder perspectives

Stakeholder feedback assists VicHealth in its strategic and operational planning. Click here for the summary findings of the studies completed in 2005 and 2002.

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Position statements

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Healthy partnerships are the all-important link to the people of Victoria.

Health promotion requires many people working together with a shared vision for a healthier future.

At VicHealth we understand that a key role for our organisation is to support, foster and connect with other organisations and individuals to work more effectively to promote the health and wellbeing of the community.

We work with a wide range of partner organisations to deliver new and innovative programs that will impact on the complex social, economic, cultural and environmental forces that shape the health of all Victorians.

Sitting within a state and federal system of health promotion and disease prevention, the Foundation’s particular focus is on developing new knowledge and raising awareness of the best practice in health promotion.

We also add strength to other organisations working in health promotion through the provision of funding and other resources, just as they add strength to ours through their outstanding work. Healthy partnerships are the all-important link to the people of Victoria.

In the last financial year (2006-2007) we funded over 900 projects in health promotion, with funds going to hundreds of different organisations, both large and small.

We are proud of the fact that The Victorian Health Promotion Foundation was the very first of its kind in the world. The Foundation represents a ground-breaking model for funding of health promotion programs, and maintains a leading position worldwide.

We have many points of influence around the world, but also believe we gain invaluable knowledge from our overseas connections – knowledge that can be shared freely with others working in the field.

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VicHealth represents a ground-breaking model for funding of health promotion programs, and maintains a leading position worldwide.

Legislation and relationship with the Crown

VicHealth represents the Crown (Tobacco Act 1987, Section 16(3)). It is a body corporate consisting of 11 members (The ‘Board’) appointed by the Minister for Health. The members are responsible for promoting VicHealth’s objectives (Section 17 of the Act). VicHealth’s membership is distinct from most other like bodies in that there are three members who are also elected members of the Victorian Parliament. Their position on the VicHealth Board is by election by the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly jointly.

The Minister for Health is accountable to the Cabinet and the Parliament for the performance of VicHealth. The Minister is also required to consult with the Minister administering the Sport and Recreation Act 1972 on any guidelines or directions under Sections 20 and 33 of the Tobacco Act.

VicHealth is subject to the scrutiny of the Parliament and is required to present an Annual Report to the Parliament reporting on the operational activity and financial statements during the financial year.

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History of VicHealth

Innovation remains the guiding principle.

A ground-breaking model in health promotion

VicHealth, the world’s first health promotion foundation, was established by the Victorian Parliament as part of the Tobacco Act of 1987.

This Act set the standard for international best practice by banning outdoor tobacco advertising and using cigarette taxes to fund anti-smoking campaigns and buy out the tobacco sponsorship of sport and the arts.

It was a bold move – out with the Marlboro Man and in with Quit – and it sent a very strong health promotion message to all Victorians.

The impact on smoking has been dramatic. Sponsorship has gone from sports and arts events; tobacco advertising cannot be found in media or sporting fields, most workplaces and public spaces are smokefree, the legal age to purchase tobacco has increased to 18 years, and the number of adult smokers has almost halved.

The fact that it was such a good idea is emphasised by the continuing work of VicHealth and by the establishment of Health Promotion Foundations in other Australian states, as well as countries such as Thailand, Switzerland, Austria and Malaysia.

Innovation remains the guiding principle. In recent years, VicHealth has been at the forefront of action to promote mental health and wellbeing, and to increase participation in physical activity. As it has evolved, the organisation has further investigated the social factors that influence a person’s health, including poverty, unemployment, substandard housing and poor education, to name but a few.

We are always seeking new and effective ways to promote the health of Victorians, and looking for new partners and alliances. And as pressure for immediate care and treatment grows stronger by the day, the economic arguments tell us that prevention is indeed better than cure, and they underline the necessity for an innovative, effective and committed VicHealth.

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Vichealth corporate brochure (537.0 KB)
Fact sheet - VicHealth funding model (33.7 KB)
Strategic Priorities 2006-2009 (2.06 MB)
Key stakeholders (20.6 KB)
Partnerships Analysis Tool (69.9 KB)