Message from the Chair
It’s hard not to be proud of the fact that the vibrant and influential organisation we know as VicHealth was in fact the world’s first health promotion foundation.
VicHealth was established by the Victorian Parliament as part of the Tobacco Act of 1987 and charged with substantially reducing the impact of smoking. We completed the buyout of tobacco company sponsorship of sport in Victoria, with the exception of a few isolated AFL clubs, in just over a year. Maintaining momentum, VicHealth extended its scope and within its first few years had funded new screening programs for breast cancer and cervical cancer, provided financial support for the SunSmart campaign and research into Alzheimer’s disease, and inspired the launch of health promotion foundations in South Australia, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.
Thirty years on, VicHealth’s reputation has extended overseas with delegations from countries including China and Korea reaching out to the organisation for guidance in the creation of their own national health promotion foundations. And its role has expanded to embrace a much broader mission: raising awareness in the community around the social and environmental factors that impact on good health and giving individuals the information they need to enjoy greater control over their own wellbeing.
Along the way, the health challenges facing Victorians have taken on new and different dimensions, but we continue to make gains. And we continue to learn new and better ways of driving change at an individual, social and institutional level.
That progressive spirit, enriched by a passion for improving the health and wellbeing of all Victorians, runs through everything we do at VicHealth. It is evident in the way we continually evolve our skills and practices to keep pace with new technology. It’s there in our willingness to investigate new approaches to community engagement and problem-solving, such as co-design. And it’s behind the deep research we do and the recommendations we are then able to make – as was the case with the insights we uncovered about the fear of judgement experienced by women when they consider exercise, and our subsequent support of ‘social sport’ programs like Surfing Victoria’s Coasting: Stand Up Paddleboarding for Women.
On the run up to our thirtieth birthday, our long list of accomplishments gives us plenty to be proud of, but I suspect I speak for all of us at VicHealth when I say we find even more inspiration in looking ahead. In years to come, our pioneering approach to research, our innovation mindset, our transformational expertise and our strong and strategic partnerships across government and community sectors is certain to drive even greater gains in the health and wellbeing of Victorians.
Chair of the Board