The state’s greatest health promotion projects have been recognised for their efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of Victorians at the annual VicHealth Awards. 



The 14 winning projects were announced at last night’s ceremony at Melbourne Museum by Health Minister Jill Hennessy, Shadow Health Minister Mary Wooldridge, Leader of the Victorian Greens Samantha Ratnam and VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter.

This year’s awards marked VicHealth’s 30th anniversary, celebrating VicHealth’s establishment in 1987 as the world’s first health promotion foundation, and the unprecedented cross-political support it took to make it happen.

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy said the VicHealth Awards is a wonderful celebration of health promotion organisations who are working hard to improve the health of Victorians.

“Congratulations to all of the 2017 finalists and to the well deserving winners who are working in innovative ways to help Victorians embrace a healthier lifestyle,” Minister Hennessy said.

“Congratulations also to VicHealth as it celebrates 30 years of championing the health and wellbeing of Victorians,” Minister Hennessy said.

Winning projects include a sports participation program for children and young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds and a program supporting disadvantaged families to grow their own fruits and vegetables.

Ms Rechter said the VicHealth Awards display the huge range, value and influence of health promotion programs and projects in Victoria.

“I congratulate all the finalists, highly commended and winning projects for continuing the world-leading health promotion work Victoria is renowned for,” Ms Rechter said.

“These community organisations, arts or research bodies, health services, local councils and major sporting codes are tackling some of Victoria’s biggest health issues and have made a huge difference to the lives of many Victorians.

“From statewide campaigns tackling the scourge of ice-addiction to grassroots projects encouraging disadvantaged families to connect with their community, this year’s winners have all gone above and beyond in supporting Victorians to live happier and healthier lives.

“We are incredibly proud to celebrate health promotion in Victoria and congratulations to all of the inspiring winners for their achievements.”

In celebration of VicHealth’s 30th anniversary milestone The Nigel Gray Award for Excellence in Health Promotion was presented to the Parliament of Victoria, presented by Professor Emeritus Sir Gustav Nossal, inaugural VicHealth Chair and accepted by parliamentary representatives Jill Hennessy, Mary Woolridge and Samantha Ratnam.

VicHealth Chair Fiona McCormack said the Nigel Gray Award honoured the Victorian Parliament’s legacy in putting health before politics.

“Thirty years ago it took an act of vision, leadership and unprecedented cross party political support to put VicHealth’s mandate to champion the health of all Victorians above the politics of the day,” Ms McCormack said.

“Thanks to this ground-breaking moment, health promotion efforts have been able to make significant inroads in tackling the key health and wellbeing issues impacting Victorians.”

2017 VicHealth Award winners

The Nigel Gray Award for Excellence in Health Promotion

The Parliament of Victoria

This year marks the 30th anniversary of VicHealth’s establishment as the world’s first health promotion foundation. Thirty years ago it took an act of vision, leadership and unprecedented cross party political support to place VicHealth’s mandate to champion the health of all Victorians above the politics of the day. 


Promoting healthy eating

WATER – THE DRINK OF CHOICE - Ballarat Health Services: Primary Care and Population Health Advisory Committee with City of Ballarat, Ballarat Community Health, Central Highlands Primary Care Partnership, St John of God Ballarat Hospital, Western Victoria Primary Health Network, YMCA Ballarat.

The project encouraged the local community to choose water over sugary drinks.


Encouraging physical activity

MIND.BODY.PEDAL - Bicycle Network with The Body Shop and HeadSpace

This program empowered high school girls to get active through bike riding.


Preventing tobacco use


with Quit Victoria

This program helped local Aboriginal people access extra support to quit smoking.

Preventing harm from alcohol

ALCOHOL HARM SNAPSHOT SURVEY - Australasian College for Emergency Medicine

This research project measured the number of emergency department visits caused by alcohol harm.


Improving mental wellbeing


This program aimed to improve mental health, resilience and social connectivity in children aged 8-12 years.

Communications in health promotion – joint winners

ACTION ON ICE - Victorian AIDS Council

This campaign supported gay ice users to manage their drug use, and be supported to quit.


DON’T TRUST YOUR TASTEBUDS - National Heart Foundation Victoria with The George Institute, The Stroke Foundation, Kidney Health Australia, and VicHealth

This campaign encouraged Victorians to reduce their high salt intake.


Building health through sports

COUNT ME IN - Merri Health with The University of Melbourne

This program supported children and young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds to get more involved in sport.


Building health through arts

FUN RUN – PROJECT FOUR OF THE BETTY AMSDEN PARTICIPATION PROGRAM - Arts Centre Melbourne with All the Queen’s Men, Circus Oz, and VicHealth

This project was an immersive ‘marathon’ run on a treadmill, featuring a range of performances including flash mobs and interactive connections with the audience.


Research into action

SPORT AND RECREATION SPATIAL - Federation University and Victoria University, with Housing, Infrastructure and Sport and Recreation Division, Department of Health and Human Services and VicHealth.

This project measured sport participation in Victoria to support decision making and investments by sports organisations.


Promoting health equity – joint winners


Benalla Health with St Vincent de Paul Society of Benalla, Beechworth Correction Centre, and Benalla Health

This project supported disadvantaged families to grow their own fruit and vegetables.



The program allows older people who are being abused by their spouse or family members to see a lawyer in the safety and privacy of their health practitioner’s office. 


Healthy Happy Heroes Award (kids’ choice)

Farms to Families Program – Pop-up Markets for Communities in Need - Foodbank Victoria

This project aimed to deliver fresh, nutritional produce directly to disadvantaged communities through pop-up style farmers markets.



VicHealth would like to extend a special thanks to our health promotion champions: 

Stephanie Alexander OAM, Ro Allen, Prof. Steven Allender, Clare Amies, Prof. Ian Anderson, Prof. Kerry Arabena, Paris Aristotle AM, Graham Ashton AM, Jason Ball, Rosie Batty, the Hon. Mark Birrell, Katie Brennan, Paul Briggs OAM, the Hon. John Cain, Prof. John Catford, Mary Crooks AO, Prof. Mike Daube AO, Maree Davidson AM, Dr Alessandro De Maio, Belinda Duarte, Tony Elwood, Jane Fenton AM, Prof. John Funder AC, Amanda Gailiss, Prof. Rhonda Galbally AO, Jill Gallagher AO, Prof. Billie Giles-Corti, Peter Gordon, Dr David Halpern, Todd Harper, Dr David Hill AO, Kristen Hilton, Prof. Matthew Hopcraft, Keran Howe, Lauren Jackson ASM, Kellie-Ann Jolly, Tony Keenan, Prof. Helen Keleher, Erin Lalor, Prof Evelyne de Leeuw, Dr Michael Livingston, Prof. Patrick McGorry AO, Sharelle McMahon ASM, Prof. Rob Moodie AM, Sarah Moran, Lyn Morgain, Sir Gustav Nossal AC, CBE, FRS, Kate Palmer, David Parkin OAM, Daisy Pearce, Prof. Anna Peeters, Alice Pryor, Prof. Robin Room, Paul Roos ASM, Cath Scarth, Natasha Stott-Despoja AM, Craig Tiley, Dr Shin Young-Soo

Click below to see the finalists in each category

Foreword from VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter View more

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all to VicHealth’s ‘night of nights’ for the health promotion sector. Tonight, we celebrate your achievements as the champions of health promotion.

Jerril Rechter

Whether you represent a community organisation, arts or research body, health service, local council or major sporting code, you have tackled some of Victoria’s biggest health issues and made a huge difference to the lives of many Victorians. Your organisations are embedding health promotion into your work in innovative ways to improve the health and wellbeing of your communities – and Victoria is all the better for it.

This year we’re also celebrating VicHealth’s 30th anniversary. It not only represents a turning point in Victoria’s history, it represents the strength of health promotion – bringing people together.

Indeed, VicHealth was created by people coming together to improve the health and wellbeing of Victorians, and it’s a legacy that continues today.

Tonight is a celebration of health promotion in Victoria, which is far greater than any one organisation. It’s our collective achievements and hard work that we’re celebrating, which each of you have contributed to.

I am proud to say that VicHealth will continue to build on this impressive, 30-year legacy of innovation, managing the complex and the unfamiliar, and riding the wave of change with all of you, to improve the health and wellbeing of Victorians.

In the rush to keep up with the changing face of health in Victoria, we sometimes forget to take a step back, look at the bigger picture and celebrate what we have achieved. And as we look to the next 30 years, I’m truly excited by what we are yet to achieve.

I congratulate all the finalists, the highly commended and the winning projects for continuing the world-leading health promotion work Victoria is renowned for.

Jerril Rechter
VicHealth CEO

Preventing Tobacco Use View more

Implementing a Shared-Care Model Between Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and Aboriginal Quitline: Providing Best-Practice Smoking Cessation Support for Community

Lakes Entrance Aboriginal Health Association

With Quit Victoria

Identifying a need for additional support beyond the services provided by the Lakes Entrance Aboriginal Health Association (LEAHA) to help local Aboriginal people quit smoking, LEAHA partnered with Quit Victoria to develop a shared-care model.

This model provided best-practice cessation support to Aboriginal smokers. Specifically, during intake at LEAHA, staff recorded detailed smoker information and now include an opt-out system for an Aboriginal Quitline call back. This enables the smoker to have both face-to-face support, and additional support over the phone, whenever they want it, from Aboriginal Quitline specialists.



Creating Healthy Cultures in Senior Sporting Clubs

Peninsula Health

With AFL South East, St Kilda Football Club, Good Sports and Frankston City Council.

Building on the successes and learnings from a 2016 award-winning initiative, Peninsula Health formed a partnership with AFL South East, St Kilda Football Club, Good Sports and Frankston City Council. This collaboration has supported an additional 39 clubs to become smoke-free.

In 2017, all games, training days and events run by the Frankston and District Junior Football League (17 clubs) and the Mornington Peninsula Football Netball League (22 senior clubs) became smoke free. A Quit Challenge Round was also held, coinciding with World No Tobacco Day. As a result of the project, over 8000 community members now have access to smoke-free sporting environments.

Encouraging Physical Activity View more

F3: Victorian Females Flock To Footy

AFL Victoria    

With the number of female AFL teams more than doubling between March 2016 and June 2017, adding an estimated 11,000 new female players, this project demonstrates how AFL Victoria has contributed to the growth of women’s football in Victoria.

To exemplify its vision to be the most accessible sport for all Victorians, AFL Victoria did research and used the subsequent findings to implement organisational and competition structure change, and develop new talent pathways. This work has significantly contributed to the exponential growth in the number of active women in Australian football in Victoria.




Bicycle Network

With The Body Shop and HeadSpace.

MIND.BODY.PEDAL is a free program specifically designed for teenage secondary school girls that addresses their decline in physical activity by inspiring and empowering them to get active through bike riding.

With teenage girls generally active for less than 30 minutes a day, the project aimed to encourage and support them to overcome the barriers to exercise by creating a supportive environment, while addressing the issues of self-esteem and confidence that hold many back from riding a bike. The project also created new and enhanced existing organisational partnerships.

As a result, participating schools reported twice as many girls riding to school, and that walking to school rates had also increased, from 28 per cent to 38 per cent. events/ride2school/events/mind- body-pedal



Nature Play Working Party

City of Casey  

There is a growing understanding of the physical and mental benefits of playing outdoors, in natural surroundings. Nature Play Working Party has been raising awareness of these benefits by providing a program that actively engages families and children – including very young children – in nature play. Commencing in 2014 with just 24 interested members, the city-wide network has grown, doubling in size within three years.

Objectives include:

  • advocating for children 0–5 years to experience nature play
  • maximising children’s potential by discovering learning and playing in Casey’s nature reserves, natural bush areas and coastal areas
  • increasing the number of active nature play programs for early years across Casey.



ALLPLAY Footy: Creating a Culture of Inclusion in the Australian Sporting Context

Deakin Child Study Centre, Deakin University         

This project aimed to make it easier for children with disabilities to participate in organised physical activity. It built an evidence base about the benefits, barriers and facilitators to taking part in physical activity, and then created digital resources to help children, families and coaches modify or improve the way community sporting activities are run.

Specifically targeting a group that is at risk of missing out on physical activity opportunities, the project demonstrates how important it is to include children with disabilities into ‘general’ community events.




Primary Care Connect

With Mooroopna Bowls Club.

The Afghan community is a growing refugee group in the Shepparton area and seniors are often isolated from each other and the broader community. Engage offers tailored lawn bowls lessons and regular matches providing a means to stay active and socialise.

The project is built on the innovative idea of encouraging involvement of an at-risk community in a local lawn bowling club as a way of encouraging gentle, culturally appropriate physical activity, which also helps to build social connection.

Promoting Healthy Eating View more

Nudging Victorians Towards Healthier Options

Alfred Health 

Based in Alfred Health’s largest café, this project aimed to increase customer access to healthy food by making these options easier to identify and nudging customers towards making healthier choices.

Demonstrating strong impact for low cost, and the potential for broad application in other cafés, this approach has inspired other institutions, in Australia and internationally, to adopt similar approaches at their points of sale.



‘Water – The Drink of Choice’ – a Ballarat Workplace Health Promotion

Ballarat Health Services: Primary Care and Population Health Advisory Committee (PCPHAC)

with City of Ballarat, Ballarat Community Health, Central Highlands Primary Care Partnership, St John of God Ballarat Hospital, Western Victoria Primary Health Network and YMCA Ballarat.

‘Water – the drink of choice’ focused on making healthy drink choices easier. A collaborative project between the seven member agencies, it aimed to influence their own workforces by:

  • increasing the availability and promotion of water
  • decreasing the availability and promotion of sugary drinks
  • increasing staff awareness of the link between consumption of sugary drinks and ill health.

This low-cost initiative demonstrated huge spread, reaching over 7000 staff across the seven organisations, and potentially influencing the total daily traffic of more than 10,000 clients per day.



Sugary Drink Free Summer Initiative

Corangamite Shire Council

With YMCA Ballarat.

During the 2016–17 swimming season, this project prevented 12,153 teaspoons, or 78.85 kg of sugar, from entering the Corangamite community. This was achieved by removing of all sports and soft drinks from sale and stocking only plain and lightly flavoured water in the swimming pool kiosks.

All six outdoor swimming pool facilities successfully removed all soft drinks, decreasing the availability of sugar-sweetened drink options with minimal impact on financial or staff resources. Results showed that pool-goers were willing to switch to the healthier drink options as there was no decrease in overall dollar sales recorded, no customers complained about the change, and almost two-thirds of sales were plain water.



Healthy Heroes – A Geelong Cats and GMHBA Joint Community Initiative

Geelong Cats Football Club and GMHBA      

Healthy Heroes is a school-based program that encourages positive behaviour change by increasing students’ knowledge around physical activity, healthy eating, hydration and screen time. Involving the Geelong Cats AFL players, together with interactive, engaging and practical activities, gives students a learning experience that is both memorable and educational.

The program provided healthy eating education to year 3 and 4 students in Geelong and surrounding suburbs, with the aim of increasing the number of children who were able to identify the recommended amount of vegetables, fruit and water they should consume each day. healthy-heroes



Kicking Health Goals with Sports Clubs

Monash Health

With City of Casey.

This project aimed to increase healthy food options available in sports clubs’ canteens by building the capacity of club staff, members and volunteers to lead, identity and implement healthy changes.

Objectives included increasing the number of healthy food and drink options, decreasing the number of unhealthy food and drink options and promoting healthy choices through the canteen environment. The changes were widely embraced by customers so no loss of profit was recorded when the number of healthy options was increased. One club reported their experience of only 10 ‘healthy’ sales in week one, increasing to 50 by week four.

Directly reaching over 600 club members, plus spectators on game days, estimates indicate that an expanded initiative would reach over 1900 club and community members.

Improving Mental Wellbeing View more

Ambulance Victoria’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2016–2019

Ambulance Victoria  

With statistics showing the suicide rate among paramedics is four times higher than the Victorian average, and three times higher than that of police and fire services, Ambulance Victoria produced this strategy to create a mentally healthy workplace and improve the mental health of its staff.

Specifically, the strategy aims to reduce stigma around mental health issues and create a safe culture that supports people to:

  • recognise mental health issues in themselves and others
  • speak up when issues occur
  • seek help and treatment early.

It is estimated that 6000 operational and corporate staff, volunteers and families have been reached and influenced by the implementation of this strategy.



Arts Wellbeing Collective

Arts Centre Melbourne

With Entertainment Assist.

Made up of 130 Victorian arts and cultural organisations, the Arts Wellbeing Collective actively promotes a shared vision to effect better mental health and wellbeing for Victorian arts workers in their workplaces.

The Collective features workshops, training, resources and a custom-built dedicated website – all tailored to the needs of the arts sector. To date, 1000 performing arts workers have taken part in free mental wellbeing workshops – eight times more than what was originally expected.



BeyondNow: a suicide prevention safety planning app


With Dr Glenn Melvin, Centre for Developmental Psychiatry & Psychology, Monash University and The Movember Foundation.

The BeyondNow app guides users on how to complete a personalised suicide safety plan for use during a suicidal crisis. The app puts an individual’s safety plan within easy reach, and is being used widely as a self-help tool.

This program included an eight-week clinical trial by Monash Health, involving 36 suicidal older adolescents and adults who used the app alongside their usual care. The results demonstrated reductions in suicidal ideation and behaviour, as well as improved capacity to cope with suicidal thoughts.

Since March 2016 it has been downloaded 9500 times in Victoria, with 29,000 downloads nationally.



Reach Out, Speak Out campaign

Jewish Care Victoria  

Targeting the Victorian Jewish community, Reach Out, Speak Out aimed to reduce stigma around mental health and reduce the barriers to people seeking help.

Specifically, the campaign aimed to:

  • facilitate greater community dialogue around the issue of mental ill health
  • improve mental health literacy in the Jewish community
  • reduce negative stigma by sharing ‘real life’ stories of respected community members
  • promote help-seeking by encouraging affected persons to connect with their relevant health professional.

A key element of the campaign was the production of four videos featuring highlights of interviews with Jewish community members with a lived experience of mental ill-health. Screened widely at Jewish community forums, the videos have been viewed about 45,000 times, with 2500 YouTube views.



Kids as Catalyst – Children Leading Community Change

Kids Thrive     

Kids as Catalyst is an innovative child-led social change program that activates children to be positive contributors to and creators of community. With the aim of advancing the mental health, resilience and social connectivity of children aged 8–12 years, this program was delivered in eight primary schools in the Wyndham, Benalla and Goldfields regions of Victoria in 2016–17. During this period it reached more than 360 students and a total of 1270 community members.

The program inspired and coached young leaders, with students delivering 63 philanthropic projects to benefit their local community. This program demonstrated the importance of strengthening the connections between children and local community groups, and empowered them to get involved and make a difference.



#HerTribe Aboriginal Women’s Health and Empowerment Program

Victorian Aboriginal Health Service

With The University of Melbourne.

Developed for Aboriginal women aged 14 to 68 years, #HerTribe engaged participants in a healthy lifestyle and self-empowerment program to address their mental, physical and spiritual health. Emphasising the importance of connection to spirit, spirituality, ancestors, land and culture this innovative program facilitated connection between the participants, and was successful in reducing their levels of psychological distress.

To date, 121 Aboriginal women have taken part in #HerTribe, three times the anticipated response. The 16-week program combined fitness programs with inspirational speakers, spiritual massage, nutrition consultations, counselling and Quit programs. Four women are now smoke free.

Improving Health Equity View more

Benalla Grow Your Own – Engaging Disadvantaged Families with Wicking Garden Beds

Benalla Health

With St Vincent de Paul Society of Benalla, Benalla Health and Beechworth Corrections Centre.

This project piloted the installation of wicking garden beds in the backyards of at-risk families, to support them to grow their own fruit and vegetables. It also aimed to improve community connectivity and increase people’s knowledge, confidence and skills to grow their own food.

Designed by prisoners at the nearby Beechworth Corrections Centre, the garden beds are raised with built-in reservoirs at the bottom. This type of garden bed was chosen for its water saving capabilities, and the cost of watering this type of garden is substantially less than a regular garden.

In total, 48 families (including 72 children) now have wicking garden beds. This has led to an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption, spending more time outside and improved self-reported mental health.



Overcoming Barriers to Breast Screening

BreastScreen Victoria

With Monash Health: Refugee Health and Wellbeing, Dandenong & District Aborigines Co-Operative Limited, Red Cross, AMES Dandenong, Life without Barriers and Women’s Health In the South East.

The objective of this program was to reduce the barriers to breast screening and improve screening rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and CALD women in the Dandenong area.

BreastScreen Victoria recognised the need for tailored approaches to reach these women, so initiated partnerships with a range of local services to build a better understanding of their target audience’s needs. The program also aimed to improve the capacity of local services to refer women to the screening service. Specific activities included:

  • program partners contacting their female clients
  • displaying promotional material throughout their centres and accompanying clients to the mobile testing van
  • offering group visits for the first time (recognising that women feel more comfortable attending screening with peers)
  • working with BreastScreen Victoria to ensure these women had a positive first-time screening experience to increase their likelihood of returning in two years’ time.



Farms to Families® Program: Pop-up Markets for Communities in Need


Farms to Families delivered free, fresh, nutritious produce directly to disadvantaged communities through pop-up style farmers markets. These markets were held in communities marked as ‘food deserts’ – areas of socio-economic disadvantage where access to fresh produce is limited, and demand for food relief is high.

Foodbank worked with community agencies to ensure those who most needed access to the markets were invited, and held 24 markets in eight local government areas in 2016–17.



Gender Service

Gateway Health         

Gateway Health in Wodonga has established the first regional gender service in Australia, bringing help and advice a lot closer to home for gender-questioning, trans and gender-diverse (TGD) young people under 17 years old.

As the project is located within a mainstream community health centre, internal change included:

  • installing all-gender restrooms
  • updating client registration forms
  • developing a guide for reception staff
  • delivering regular training
  • reviewing the physical environment to create a supportive environment for TGD young people and their families.

The tyranny of distance compounds disadvantage for TGD young people in rural and regional areas and this project is providing a local response to an often anxiety- provoking and complex system. 


Working together: A Health Justice Partnership to Address Elder Abuse

Justice Connect

With Cohealth.

The idea behind this project was to embed lawyers within health practices specifically to prevent elder abuse. It enables older people who are being abused by their spouse or family members, either physically, psychologically or financially, to see a lawyer while in the safety of their health practitioner’s office, without their abuser knowing. Based at alternate Cohealth sites in Footscray, Collingwood and Kensington four days a week, the lawyer also makes home visits as required.

Justice Connect trained 309 of Cohealth’s staff to educate them about elder abuse, which dramatically increased referrals in 2016–17 (up 112 per cent on the previous year). Over the two years of operation, 556 legal matters have been addressed, and 666 people have attended community legal education. partnerships



Equinox, Gender Diverse Health Service

Victorian AIDS Council           

Trans and gender diverse (TGD) people face many barriers to accessing and seeking proper healthcare. Equinox was established by the Victorian AIDS Council to provide sensitive and appropriate general practice and mental health support services to this vulnerable community.

Equinox offers bulk-billed general practice services, low-cost counselling services, free Rapid IV and STI testing and free onsite and outreach alcohol and other drug care coordination services.

With a focus on peer-led services (five of the team of eight staff openly identify as trans or gender diverse), and a commitment to evaluating patient experiences, this project showed leadership in responding to the needs and rights of an audience experiencing significant health inequity.

Building Health Through Art View more

FUN RUN – Project IV of the Betty Amsden Participation Program

Arts Centre Melbourne

With All The Queens Men, supported by VicHealth and in association with Circus Oz.

FUN RUN was a three month project that culminated in a single-day, immersive and participatory ‘marathon’. Artist Tristan Meacham of All The Queens Men ran the marathon, on a treadmill in real time with a range of performances, including flash mobs and interactive connections with the audience.

During the three months leading up to the main event, FUN RUN engaged with 22 community groups and schools, with an additional 1500 participants taking part in 23 public flash mobs.

The project aimed to engage a range of communities and deliver a highly accessible and fun approach to physical activity and arts involvement. The impact of FUN RUN has extended well beyond the event, with the piece being picked up by other national and international presenters. Post-event research has identified overwhelmingly positive feelings about physical activity and enhanced confidence and connections to community and cultural spaces.

Approximately 46,000 people engaged with FUN RUN online and in person.



Connecting the dots: Art and You – A Planning Guide

 Arts Access Victoria  

Connecting the Dots is a capacity-building project that assisted the arts and cultural sectors, and people experiencing mental health issues, to navigate the changing landscape of mental health services in Victoria. It brought together the key players from across the targeted sectors to develop an integrated approach to investigate, plan and develop new program models to develop pathways for people with disability and mental health issues to ongoing arts participation.

Art and You – A Planning Guide identifies and promotes the benefits of arts participation to improve quality of life, recovery and community inclusion and connection. It also includes information on available arts and cultural development programs, case studies, examples of best practice and testimonials from people living with disability and mental health issues who are actively involved in the arts.



A March to Art: Identity

Australian National Veterans Arts Museum 

Born out of the growing crisis in veterans’ mental health and suicide rates, A March to Art: Identity aimed to be a link between veterans and the wider community, offering an opportunity to redefine community perceptions of the new generation of veterans and engage the arts as a mechanism to explore identity.

The art exhibition presented works by artists – young and older – who have served in the military or who are within a veteran’s family circle, and included poetry, music, quilting, paintings, photography and sculpture. The program demonstrated a direct

benefit to the artists, their families, and those who attended the exhibition, as well as progress towards creating a permanent centre offering art therapy for veterans and broadening the options for those living with mental health issues.



One Million Stars: Preventing Violence Through Community Art

Bayside City Council

One Million Stars provided a forum for safe conversations about family violence, built on the principle that ‘we don’t have to wait for tragedy to occur before responding as a community’. Specifically, this project aimed to engage and encourage community members across the Bayside catchment area in weaving 10,000 stars by October 2016. A resource kit was developed to support the project, and included the material to make woven stars, information on the meaning behind the project, and local services information.

This program demonstrated successful collaboration with local communities to raise awareness around family violence. Thirty-four community organisations and neighbouring councils joined in, with more than 500 participants weaving 13,000 stars which were launched on White Ribbon Day 2016. Research found that 83 per cent of those involved thought the activity was successful in creating conversations about ending violence in our communities.



ELVA (Enhancing Emotional Literacy through Visual Arts)

The Dax Centre          

Targeting teachers, ELVA aimed to develop their skills in delivering quality and impactful visual arts education, allowing students to explore emotions in a safe and supportive environment. Through art, supported by appropriately trained and resourced teachers, young people can develop emotional intelligence, empathy and resilience in the face of emotional challenges.

This project involved a six-day program delivered over 18 months, and involved 24 teachers in eight Victorian regions (some affected by bushfires), training and translating information for 2000 students. The program included applying evidence-based methodologies to support children affected by trauma.



Streetshot Youth Health Promotion Program

Hepatitis Victoria       

StreetShot is a unique youth health promotion program, promoting creative ways for young people to address issues around viral hepatitis for both themselves and for their communities.

It includes interactive education sessions where participants learn about risk factors for viral hepatitis and how they can keep themselves safe. Participants then collaborate on a creative photography or video project to visually represent their understandings of viral hepatitis, and to communicate through peer education strategies what they think other young people need to know.

Communications in Health Promotion View more

Don’t Trust Your Tastebuds

National Heart Foundation Victoria

With The George Institute, Stroke Foundation, Kidney Australia and VicHealth.

Concerned by 2010 research that attributed almost one in 20 deaths to high salt intake (around six times the annual road toll for that year), the Don’t Trust Your Tastebuds campaign was developed to raise awareness about salt intake and encourage healthy diet changes to reduce the salt consumption of Victorians. Based on the research, five steps to helping people reduce their salt consumption were identified.

Among those exposed to the campaign, there was:

  • a 5 per cent increase in awareness that salt in Australian diets comes from processed foods (target was 4 per cent)
  • a 10 per cent increase in the knowledge of recommended daily levels of salt (target was 3 per cent)
  • an 11 per cent increase in concern about family salt intake (target was 5 per cent)

While behaviour change wasn’t an objective of this initial phase of the campaign, 73 per cent of people who saw the campaign have taken at least one action to reduce salt intake as a result of seeing the campaign materials.



Just Click Here for Better Oral Health

Peninsula Health

With Peninsula Health Community Dental Services and Dental Health Services Victoria.

This program created a simple online e-referral tool, allowing client referrals to be made by local medical professionals and by clients themselves through one access point.

The program objectives were to:

  • make it easier to book dental health checks
  • increase the total number of people accessing Community Dental Services
  • increase the number of people from priority population groups accessing Community Dental Services.

Since inception, there has been an increase of between 1000 and 1500 referrals per annum, showing an average 63% increase in access by priority population groups. This program’s online e-referral system demonstrated how a traditional ‘promotional’ channel such as a website can offer a smart technology solution, making health services more accessible to all.



Sports Drinks are Gammin!

Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation

With Cancer Council Victoria and the Rethink Sugary Drink Alliance.

In response to community consultation that found sports drinks were a greater issue than soft drinks, this program produced a series of testimonial videos featuring Indigenous sports stars promoting drinking water over sports drinks.

An evaluation survey in January 2017 of 175 people (of whom 49 per cent were of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent) showed very high awareness of, and support for, the Sports Drinks are Gammin! campaign videos. Among the respondents, 60 per cent indicated that they were motivated to take action to improve the health of their family as a result of viewing the material.



Action on Ice

Victorian AIDS Council           

Targeting male methamphetamine users who have sex with men, this campaign provided users with a range of options to reduce the harms associated with their use, manage their use, and/or to be supported in ceasing their use altogether. This two year project was developed with funding allocated from the Victorian Government’s Ice Action Taskforce and was delivered across a range of settings including community and workforce education, community engagement and social marketing campaigns.

As a result of this campaign:

  • 203 health care workers across Victoria have been trained
  • a fortnightly peer-led support group has been established (100  attendees)
  • outreach was undertaken by volunteer workers at more than 60 events.

Total campaign reach through the variety of channels is estimated at 59,580 people, not including outdoor advertising or engagement with print or digital collateral.

Preventing Harm from Alcohol View more

Alcohol Harm Snapshot Survey

Australasian College for Emergency Medicine        

Emergency departments (EDs) in Australia and New Zealand are at the forefront of dealing with the harmful effects of alcohol consumption. However, ED alcohol-related presentation data is not routinely collected in patient data sets in Australasia.

The primary objective of this project was to provide an evidence base to advocate for alcohol harm reduction measures in our communities, by quantifying the level of alcohol harm presenting to Australasian emergency departments.

This survey quantifies that on weekends, one in eight patients in emergency departments in Australia is there because of alcohol. This is the third such snapshot survey which has demonstrated the impact of alcohol on ED presentations. The nominee intends to continue this project annually, building an evidence base for sustained advocacy.



Reducing Youth Alcohol-Related Harm Through the Smart Generations Program

Deakin University, School of Psychology

With Communities That Care Ltd and City of Ballarat.

Offering a method for strategic community action to reduce secondary school age alcohol use across large municipal populations, this program is made up of a number of components including:

  • capacity building for communities to create a clear plan to reduce school-aged alcohol use
  • alcohol sales monitoring and feedback to alcohol sales outlets
  • tailored social marketing to parents and students.

In 2016–17, this program reached 164,000 people across eight municipalities.



Booze Free Sport Campaign

Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education      

Evidence shows that exposure to alcohol advertising is associated with young people drinking more, and from an earlier age. Millions of Australian children and families watch sporting broadcasts that are saturated with alcohol promotion. Booze Free Sport is advocating for an end to alcohol advertising and sponsorship in sport. It aims to do this by:

  • educating, growing and maintaining an engaged support base
  • highlighting how alcohol sponsorship in sport is an issue that can be addressed with greater support from the public and  government.



Remote Drug and Alcohol recovery for Southern Otways Region

Windana Drug and Alcohol Recovery

With Otway Health and Lorne Community Hospital.

This project delivers telehealth recovery services for regional and remote residents with alcohol and substance misuse issues. Using an innovative ‘no wrong door’ referral pathway, any local healthcare provider can refer patients to specialist AOD services without needing to engage in complex and multi-level referral processes.

By using telehealth in an innovative way, the project future-proofs local health services by offering access to AOD treatment remotely. In addition, it also presents opportunities for other tertiary health consultations to occur, resulting in reduced waiting and travelling times for clients.

Research into Action View more

Diabetes and Emotional Health: A Handbook and Toolkit for Health Professionals Supporting Adults with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes

The Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes

These resources were produced under the auspices of the National Diabetes Services Scheme. The NDSS is an initiative of the Australian Government, administered with the assistance of Diabetes Australia. The Agent for the NDSS in Victoria is Diabetes Victoria.

This project developed an evidence-based, clinically informed resource to support health professionals in meeting the emotional needs of adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

The booklet and toolkit contains practical, evidence-based, peer-reviewed resources, aiming to provide a model for and develop the skills of health professionals on how to identify and address psychological problems with adults with diabetes.



The Wellbeing Profiler: Measuring and Evaluating Youth Wellbeing for the Future

Centre for Positive Psychology, Melbourne Graduate School of Education and the University of Melbourne

Created to assess the impact of student wellbeing interventions, the Wellbeing Profiler was developed to help give schools a better sense of what works. Objectives of the project included:

  • providing users with useful information on the mental health and wellbeing of the young people in their care
  • identifying key areas of concern, to guide strategic plans and the design of effective wellbeing programs
  • evaluating the effectiveness of implemented wellbeing programs.

There has been a strong level of initial take-up of the tool by about 60 schools, which equates to around 19,000 young people.  


Sport and Recreation Spatial – Sport Participation Research Project

Federation University and Victoria University

With Housing, Infrastructure and Sport and Recreation Division. Department of Health and Human Services and VicHealth.

Sport and Recreation Spatial investigates sport and recreation participation and facilities, and relationships with health, allowing for evidence-based decision-making and policy development.

Presenting data about sport and recreation participation, sport and recreation facilities, population demographics and population health, it is largest repository of sport participation data in Australia. This database helps improve state and local government decision-making about funding for community-based sport, and builds a better understanding of the link between investment in ‘on the ground’ facilities and higher levels of participation. It also offers peak sporting associations meaningful data about participation in their particular sport, which helps them to make strategic planning decisions.




Turning Point 

MAKINGtheLINK is a school-based health promotion program, educating young people to effectively support their peers experiencing mental health and substance use issues by assisting them to seek professional help.

The program teaches young people how to be effective gate-keepers for their peers by developing their skills to identify mental health concerns, have a help-seeking conversation, overcome barriers to seeking help, and linking peers with professional sources of help such as GPs and counsellors. The program focuses on teaching practical skills to students, aiming to not only affect their knowledge and intentions, but actually change behaviour.

Building Health Through Sport View more

‘Be the Change!’ 2017 – Generating Community Leadership for the Prevention of Violence Against Women

Eastern Health

With AFL Yarra Ranges, Eastern Football League, Inspiro Community Health and Eastern Health

Building on the recent success of the AFL Women’s inaugural season, the resulting high profile, positive media coverage and growing popularity of women’s sport and female sporting role models, this program targeted grassroots football clubs to encourage more female participation.

‘Be the Change!’ successfully demonstrated that empowering local football/netball clubs to assess their own culture around female participation led them to develop a more inclusive and welcoming club environment. The campaign reached an estimated 71,700 people through the clubs themselves, and through digital and social media activity.



Count Me In – Building the Health of Individuals and Communities by Engaging Refugee and Migrant Families in Mainstream Sporting Clubs

Merri Health

With University of Melbourne.

Count Me In is a sports program targeting children and young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds. Using sports participation, this project aims to improve social inclusion and wellbeing for refugee and migrant families, and strengthen community cohesion by supporting them to engage with mainstream sporting clubs. The program also works with sporting clubs to create safer, more inclusive and welcoming environments.

In the first year, 115 families took part in the program and the positive survey responses indicate that Count Me In is having a real and relevant impact on target groups.



Ballarat Cricket Association Under 13 Girls’ Competition

Sports Central and Ballarat Cricket Association

Evidence showing the significant drop-off rates in sport participation by adolescent girls was the impetus behind Sport Central’s program targeting 9–15 year old girls. The aim was to build positive sporting experiences for this group through the development of a girls’ cricket competition.

The resulting Under 13 Girls’ cricket competition in the Central Highlands (Ballarat region) was a true catalyst for change, creating a new sports competition where originally there was none. Engaging directly with cricket clubs and schools, the project attracted 84 girls to the competition. Reaching around 500 people across the community, the project emphasised positive messages of active lifestyle and health benefits.

The program broke new ground – not only was this the first girls’ cricket competition in the Central Highlands, but for a number of participants it was their first experience of organised sport.



Pride Game

St Kilda Football Club

The objective of the first AFL-level Pride Game was to overcome prejudice and promote a diverse sporting landscape where everyone feels they belong. Supported by significant mainstream media coverage, the Pride Game was an important symbol with a huge reach – 33,059 people attended the game and more than 800,000 watched it on TV.

The program’s evaluation demonstrated creating ‘change from the inside out’ and highlighted the effort by St Kilda Football Club to inform and shape more inclusive attitudes amongst their players, staff and club members. It also showed that campaign messages around inclusion and the impact on mental health as a result of exclusion and discrimination were more successful on those who had experienced the most exposure to them.



All Abilities Program

YMCA Endeavour Hills           

The aim of this program was to ensure that nobody is denied access to gymnastics, regardless of ability. Developed to accommodate many types of students, it included those with learning needs, congenital disorders and visual impairments, as well as transgender participants. It was also able to help those who have anxiety or require additional social assistance in a personalised setting.

This program used a highly individualised, co-design model, acknowledging that no two students have the same pathway, aspiration, or goal.

YMCA Endeavour Hills’ All Abilities Program demonstrates the successful way the Club genuinely celebrates each individual’s achievements and the program’s successes.

Further information

Call VicHealth on (03) 9667 1315 or email

Download: 2016 VicHealth Awards finalists brochure (PDF, 357 KB)

Download: 2015 VicHealth Awards Nomination Brochure (PDF, 363KB)

Download: 2015 VicHealth Award Finalists Brochure (PDF, 264KB)