Closed Last updated: 27 Oct, 2017

Making water the drink of choice in local government owned sport and recreation facilities

Do you want to improve access to and promote water and healthy drinks in your sport and recreation facilities? Do you want to create an environment where choosing a healthy drink is the easy choice?

VicHealth is supporting Victorian local governments to make it easier for participants, coaches, spectators and volunteers to choose water as the drink of choice in canteens/retail food outlets in local sport and active recreation facilities.   

Through this grant round, a small number of local governments will receive funds to undertake a ‘nudge’ in Council-owned sports and recreation facilities’ retail outlets which sell sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB’s), such as soft drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks.  The nudge will involve either limiting to less than 20% or removing SSBs (red) from display and increasing availability, accessibility and promotion of water and healthy drinks (green) to greater than 50%.  

The funded Councils will be required to have a dedicated project manager and implement Council policies and practices that support longer-term change.

Making water the drink of choice, instead of SSBs is a significant first step to implementing the broader Victorian Government’s Healthy Choices guidelines, a set of guidelines to improve the supply and promotion of healthy foods and drinks in key settings including Sports and Recreation Centres.

Even though the focus for this grant is to promote water as the drink of choice, Councils can also trial a ‘nudge’ to promote healthy food choices which are classified ‘Green’ according to the Victorian Government’s Healthy choices: food and drinks classification guide (DHHS, 2015).


What’s on offer?

Your Council could share in up to $540,000 in funding available over 2018-2020 to:

  • Implement ‘nudges’ within multiple community sport and recreation facilities, to demonstrate changes in supporting making water the beverage of choice
  • Develop or strengthen Council policies and practices which enable longer-term changes to increase the promotion, access and supply of water across council-owned sport and recreation facilities.
Water in Sports and Recreation facilities View more

Traffic light classification system

The Healthy Choices: food and drink classification guide categorises foods and drinks as GREEN, AMBER or RED based on their nutritional value. The GREEN category is the best choice, the AMBER category is to choose carefully and RED category is to limit or avoid. 

What is a nudge?

A ‘nudge’ is designed to encourage consumers to make healthier choices, by changing the placement, product or promotion of healthier food and drinks in preference to unhealthy options.  For example, sugary ‘red’ drinks are not displayed in drinks’ fridges. 

Local governments should apply if:

  • you want to make it easier for local communities to choose water as the drink of choice
  • you want to limit unhealthy red drinks
  • you own multiple sports and recreation facilities e.g. swimming centres, multi-indoor stadiums with a functioning canteen/kiosk
  • you can obtain or have the commitment and support to make water the drink of choice from the Canteen/Kiosk Managers
  • you can appoint a dedicated position to oversee the project
  • your local community has a strong health need i.e. high obesity rates, poor dental health outcomes
Water as the drink of choice View more

Councils can make it easier for local communities to choose healthy food and drinks in a range of settings including sporting environments. This can be part of local strategies and actions to maximise the health and wellbeing of residents identified through local Municipal Health and Wellbeing plans.

Many sport and recreation facilities currently offer drinks with added sugar through canteens, kiosks, vending machines or bars. Drinking water instead of sugary drinks is not only better for health, but important for hydration before, during and after playing sport and being active.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend to drink plenty of water and limit SSB’s such as soft drinks, sports drinks, flavoured water, cordials, energy drinks, and some fruit juices. Sugary drinks are the largest source of added sugars in the Australian diet, and high consumption contributes to poor health, in particular the risk of weight gain, some chronic diseases and increased risk of tooth decay.

Making drinking water more accessible, visible and available within local government-owned sport and recreation facilities can help to increase water consumption and reduce the intake of SSBs.

Who will we fund? View more

VicHealth is seeking to fund up to nine Councils within Victoria and will prioritise funding to Councils with:

  • High SSB consumption (as per the Victorian Population Health Survey), high obesity rates and poor dental health outcomes in their municipality.
  • A commitment to improving healthy drink choices such as within the Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan
  • A commitment to embed changes within policies and practices across Council owned sport and recreation facility canteen/kiosks to support healthy drinks in the longer-term.
  • Multiple council-owned sport and recreation facilities with the following attributes:
    • Significant community reach
    • Frequent use by children and young people including junior sport activities, competitions or programs
    • Canteen/kiosk selling SSBs such as soft drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks
    • Canteen/kiosk managed either by:
      • Council
      • Private operator with Council’s ability to influence what is offered
      • Local league/association/club with Councils ability to influence what is offered
  • Be based in Victoria and conduct activities in Victoria
  • Have acquitted previous grants awarded to it by VicHealth (to the satisfaction of VicHealth)
What will we fund? View more

Funds from this grant can be used by Councils to employ a dedicated project manager, who will be required to:

  • Oversee all aspects of the project
  • Liaise directly with each facility regarding canteen operations
  • Liaise with relevant State government organisations
  • Provide data and information to inform the project evaluation
  • Embed the initiative into council policies and practices.

You will need to provide an indicative budget as part of your application as to how much investment you are requesting from VicHealth and how much in kind contribution from Council to support the program lead position and to achieve the objectives.

Funds will be distributed over three financial years

What we will not fund View more

VicHealth will not fund the following:

  • Purchase of packaged drinks
  • Fridges
  • Ice machines
  • Vending machines
  • Subsidies for price discounts on drinks
  • Drinking water fountains 
Roles and responsibilities View more

VicHealth roles and responsibilities:

VicHealth will provide Councils with the following to support the project:

  • Program delivery support (external provider) - to provide resources to implement the ‘nudge’, training, assist with planning, implementing and evaluating the project with ongoing one-on-one support, such as through a mentorship program. Specific training and mentorship will focus on Healthy Choices interpretation and implementation to ensure consistency of project implementation with State government requirements.
  • Evaluation support (external provider) – to collect data and information to evaluate the Water in Sport Initiative 2017-20, including periodic updates on the outcomes of program delivery.


Council roles and responsibilities

VicHealth will be requiring funded Councils to:

  • Employ a dedicated position within Council to lead the delivery of this project
  • Contribute an in kind contribution to the project  
  • Agree to provide VicHealth with a work plan.
  • Develop and maintain partnerships with the facility canteen/kiosk managers, provider of program delivery support, program evaluator and suppliers, as required.
  • Agree to work in collaboration with the program evaluator and assist in collecting data and provide the following intermittently throughout the project: 
    • Sales data from the Canteen/kiosk
    • Photos of packaged drinks on display in the canteen/kiosk
    • An audit of drinks displayed in the fridge
  • Agree to work in collaboration with the program delivery support and undertake the following:
    • Training
    • Work with suppliers
    • Investigate lease agreements and the possibility of incentives
  • Agree to work in collaboration with other State government organisations and initiatives
  • Confirm bank account details for electronic funds transfer
  • Comply with reporting requirements including progress reports, final report and financial acquittal as per VicHealth contract requirements.
Assessment View more

Stages of assessment

Stage 1: Screening of process to determine eligibility and review completeness of application.

Stage 2: All eligible applicants will be reviewed and short listed.

Stage 3: Shortlisted applications will be reviewed by a panel of experts with sport, physical activity and healthy eating expertise.

Stage 4: Councils will be advised by email of the outcome of their application. 


Assessment criteria


  • Provide information on the Council-owned sport and recreation facilities with canteens/kiosks that will be involved in the initiative – including number of facilities, type of facility and canteen operations
  • Provide a clear description of who and how many attend the sport and recreation facility per year
  • Provide an outline of the health of the community, including SSB consumption, obesity rates and dental health outcomes


  • Provide a description of how this project aligns strategically with Councils priorities and strategies, such as the Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan
  • Provide a description of the Council’s commitment to developing and implementing a healthy drinks policy and practices within Council-owned facility canteen/kiosks
  • Demonstrate support and commitment from the sport and recreation facilities canteen/kiosk Managers, by providing a letter

Stakeholders / partners

  • Provide a description of the key external stakeholders that will be involved in this project e.g. suppliers, volunteers, canteen staff
  • Provide a description of who within Council will be involved with the program e.g. Policy unit, Communications etc.
  • Provide a description of how you would work collaboratively with key stakeholders/partners

Health Equity

  • When assessing your grant application, VicHealth will take into account the social and Economic disadvantage in your Council area, based on the Socio-Economic Indexes for Area (SEIFA)
Important dates View more



27 September 2017

Applications open


27 October 2017

Applications close


November 2017

Applications assessed by an Assessment Panel including independent representatives

November/ December 2017

Notifications: Successful and unsuccessful Councils will be notified

January 2018

Project commences


More information View more

Contact VicHealth

Please contact us at or (03) 9667 9004

For information regarding technical system questions please click here

0001-01-01 11:00:00 2017-10-27 03:00:00 Australia/Melbourne Water in sport grants 2017-2020 Making water the drink of choice in local government owned sport and recreation facilities