3 year priority: More opportunities to build community resilience and positive social connections, with a focus on young people and women
Most Victorians have a good quality of life and sense of wellbeing. But almost half will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, with the first onset of symptoms most common during adolescence and young adulthood.
The environments where we live, learn, play and build relationships with others are powerful influences on our mental wellbeing and the likelihood of being free from mental illness.
VicHealth understands mental wellbeing as a dynamic state in which people are able to develop their potential, work productively and creatively, build positive and respectful relationships with others, and meaningfully contribute to the community.
Innovation Challenge: Arts
VicHealth’s Innovation Challenge: Arts was about kick-starting ideas that made getting active fun for everyone. The successful projects used creative and participatory approaches to provide opportunities for Victorians of all ages to get active.
In 2015, VicHealth funded two new projects for two years that used technology to increase physical activity and social connection. Dance Break by No Lights, No Lycra is an app that gets people active wherever they are by playing an energising dance track on smart phones. In the second year of funding the Dance Break app, the design was improved, leading to more users dancing regularly and sharing it on social media.
Season 2 of The Cloud by Pop up Playground ran from January to March 2017. It was an immersive and creative street game where players found passcodes located in and around Melbourne to unlock documents and videos hidden online.
Creating healthy workplaces
A positive workplace can provide us with an important sense of community and connection with others, as well as help to build self-esteem and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. VicHealth, SuperFriend and WorkSafe Victoria have been working in collaboration since 2014 to help workplaces create supportive workplace cultures and environments that enable workers to be more engaged and effective.
Events held by the Victorian Workplace Mental Wellbeing Collaboration include regular leadership meetings which bring together business leaders to hear from expert speakers, get a better understanding of how they can support the mental wellbeing of their workforces and create a network of workplace mental wellbeing champions.
Bright Futures challenge
Almost 75 per cent of mental illness commences before 25 years of age so it’s crucial we work to build the resilience and connectedness of young people with young people.
Through VicHealth’s Bright Futures for Young Victorians Challenge, VicHealth provided more than $400,000 in grants for 12 projects to support the resilience, social connection and mental wellbeing of Victorian youth. They include a project to help young dads retain quality connections with their children, a support network for young job-seekers, and a social enterprise to enhance young peoples’ skills and confidence.
The projects connect councils, community and young people to codesign and trial preventative strategies that will equip young people with the tools they need to face future challenges.
Preventing violence against women in Victoria
In an attempt to design and test a place-based multi-sectoral approach to preventing violence against women, VicHealth’s world-first model for preventing violence against women, Generating Equality and Respect (GEAR), was recognised with the prestigious national Excellence in Evaluation Award, announced by the Australian Evaluation Society (AES). GEAR provides accessible tools and resources for local governments, health services, businesses and non-government organisations (NGOs) to work collaboratively in taking prevention of violence against women to the next level.
VicHealth’s continued efforts to inform diverse sectors of current and emerging issues in the prevention of violence against women are illustrated by the Prevention is Possible Policy Forums held during 2017. This series of three forums worked with public service policy makers to increase their understanding of, and preparedness for, the release of the Victorian government Primary Prevention strategy, as well as increasing their capacity to take action on the Royal Commission into Family Violence recommendations.
The Pride Game
Research shows that sport can be a challenging environment for the LGBTI community, as players or spectators.
More than 80 per cent of LGBTI participants said they had witnessed or experienced homophobia in sport. A further 87 per cent of young gay Australian sportswomen and men felt forced to partially or completely hide their sexuality.
Homophobia can have a very serious impact on the mental wellbeing of LGBTI people. Same-sex attracted Australians are up to three times more likely to experience depression and have up to 14 times higher rates of suicide attempts than their heterosexual peers.
In 2014, Yarra Glen Football Club and Yarra Junction took a step towards making football more inclusive when it staged a football match for the Community Pride Cup, which welcomed everyone from the LGBTI community.
The AFL endorsed the game and hundreds came to support the teams and local footballer Jason Ball, who in 2012 became the first male Australian Rules football player at any level to publicly come out as gay in the media.
Two years later, St Kilda and the Sydney Swans – with VicHealth’s support – met for the inaugural AFL Pride Cup, establishing an international precedent that will be a feature of each season.
Football grounds haven’t always been the most welcoming places for LGBTI fans but the rainbow colours rippling through the crowds at Etihad Stadium for the Pride Game told a different story. A VicHealth-funded La Trobe University study of 3700 footy fans found that before the 2016 Pride match 50 per cent of LGBTI football fans thought AFL games were not inclusive or welcoming. But after the game, more than 90 per cent of LGBTI fans said they found the match safe, inclusive and welcoming.
It was a message of inclusion that St Kilda CEO Matt Finnis shared. “As a club, we are proud to continue to promote the message that everyone is welcome in football,” he said.
“Through the Pride Game and other initiatives, we are striving to tackle homophobia and transphobia, and other barriers that prohibit members of the LGTBI community feeling welcome in the sporting environment.”
The Pride Game has helped inspire similar events around Victoria. Hamilton, in the western district, had two pride matches in 2017: one featured two of Melbourne’s strongest women’s VFL teams and was followed by a local football match, featuring the Hamilton Kangaroos. All teams wore Pride jumpers featuring rainbow designs. There were also Pride games in Gippsland and in the Southern Football and Netball League, which covers Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs. Next year, there are plans for Pride games in Mornington, Daylesford and Shepparton.