The Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) is a pioneer in health promotion – the process of enabling people to increase control over and improve their health.
Our primary focus is promoting good health and preventing chronic disease.
We create and fund world-class interventions. We conduct vital research to advance Victoria’s population health. We produce and support public campaigns to promote a healthier Victoria. We provide transformational expertise and insights to government.
Of all the things we do, above all we seek to make health gains among Victorians by pre-empting and targeting improvements in health across our population, fostered within the day-to-day spaces where people spend their time, and with benefits to be enjoyed by all.
Our overarching priorities
Pinpointing and preventing the negative influences of ill health, and championing the positive influences on good health, is central and exclusive to our work. Our priorities support government objectives and relevant aspects of the Victorian Department of Health’s Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2011-2015.
Four unique approaches underpin our mandate to prevent chronic disease.
- Our role as an independent statutory authority with multipartisan support
We advise governments and complement and contribute to the efforts of various government portfolios.
- A comprehensive, inclusive approach to health
We focus on creating the conditions in which good health can flourish – from better public policy and healthy urban environments to more inclusive and respectful communities.
- Our innovation
We are able to take and absorb risks in ways that government cannot. Our work is underpinned by robust evidence, and is integrated with evaluation, practice and dissemination.
- Our partnerships
We work in partnership with governments, organisations, communities and individuals in a broad range of sectors, including sport, recreation, community, urban planning, research, transport, local government, education, arts and business. We have a legislative mandate to allocate at least 30% of our appropriation to sports organisations.
VicHealth's Action Agenda for Health Promotion 2013–2023 focuses on five strategic imperatives with associated goals and three-year priorities.
- promoting healthy eating
- encouraging regular physical activity
- preventing tobacco use
- preventing harm from alcohol
- improving mental wellbeing
These priorities are consistent with VicHealth’s obligations under the Tobacco Act of 1987. They also align with State Government policy and program directions, and national and international health promotion priorities and policies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) charters and declarations for Health Promotion.
How VicHealth is funded
VicHealth receives core funding from the Department of Health to deliver its objectives as outlined in the Tobacco Act 1987. Additionally, VicHealth periodically receives special funding from various Government agencies to deliver specific programs.
Previous funding model
For its first 10 years (until 1997), VicHealth was funded by a dedicated (or ‘hypothecated’) tax. This kind of tax is one generated for a specific purpose and does not become part of a government’s general consolidated revenue. A hypothecated tax is rarely implemented.
The Victorian State Government applied a levy of 5% on top of existing state tobacco fees (set out in the Victorian Tobacco Act 1987). This money was hypothecated to the Victorian Health Promotion Fund, and the Fund was administered by VicHealth.
In health terms, such an approach created an incentive in its own right by increasing the price of something considered to be harmful to health (in this case smoking). There was evidence in Victoria before the Tobacco Act was introduced in 1987 that a price increase in cigarettes would reduce the smoking rates of people under 18. This was a powerful message to help the Victorian Government gain community support for a new tax to the community.
The model created considerable interest in other parts of the world. Thailand, Korea, Finland and Portugal have all implemented some version of a hypothecated tax to fund health promotion.
For more information, see The Story of VicHealth: A world first in health promotion.
VicHealth currently engages with all levels of government, across political parties and across a range of portfolios. Our partners span many sectors, including health, sports, research, education, the arts and community.
We also have strong relationships with health promotion practitioners and the media.
Our partnerships allow us to share knowledge, capacity and resources, enhancing our promotion and prevention efforts. By paying particular attention to our relationships with those of influence, organisations such as Victoria Police and the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), we can be strategically aligned with priorities of importance and make the best use of our collective resources.
VicHealth works closely with like foundations from around the world to provide information and guidance to foreign governments who wish to establish similar models in their own country.
International Network of Health Promotion Foundations
VicHealth has an alliance with other countries that have established or are in the process of establishing health promotion foundations, many based on the VicHealth model. This International Network of Health Promotion Foundations strengthens the work of existing foundations and supports new ones. The Network's website has significant resources and links to member websites.
WHO and ProLead
The Network (see above) and VicHealth are also involved in supporting the work of the World Health Organization to increase the number of countries with sustainable financing for health promotion via the ProLead project.