VicHealth research comparing the impact of the first and second wave of the coronavirus pandemic on the health and wellbeing of Victorians.

  • This research report is the second in a series exploring how the health and wellbeing of Victorians was affected by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

  • It details the results of a follow-up survey of around 2,000 Victorians conducted in September 2020, compared with the initial VicHealth Coronavirus Victorian Wellbeing Impact Study conducted in late May-early June 2020.

  • Positive results included an improvement between the two surveys in the risk of short-term harm from alcohol; reliance on low-cost unhealthy food due to shortage of money; and financial hardship.

  • However, there was a decline in life satisfaction and wellbeing, and people struggled to both connect socially and keep physically active.

  • As with the previous survey, there were stark differences between communities facing hardship and the wider community, detailed in the key results below.


Download: Summary report (PDF, 1.1 MB)

Download: Full research report (PDF, 2.5 MB)


VicHealth Coronavirus Victorian Wellbeing Impact Study: Follow-up survey

This year has brought immense challenges for Victorians. It began with bushfires, followed by a first set of restrictions to stop the spread of coronavirus and then a second set of restrictions. 

Anecdotally and through public discourse we saw Victorians voice their struggles during the second wave of the pandemic. 

It appeared to be harder than the first time around.

Listening to these stories, documenting these experiences and learning from them are important to our recovery. 

With the first Coronavirus Impact Wellbeing Study survey we were provided with invaluable insights into the daily struggles of Victorians and how this impact varied between communities.

The findings of the first survey guided the Reimagining Health: A VicHealth Partnership Grant round, our largest grant round to date, providing $3.9m for locally-led solutions that support those hardest hit by this pandemic. 

To understand the experiences, challenges and silver linings experienced by Victorians during the latter half of 2020, including during the second wave of the pandemic, we again asked 2,000 participants to share their insights with us. 

Once again, this survey covers key domains of general wellbeing, social connection, healthy eating, physical activity, financial hardship, smoking, alcohol consumption and details the impact of the pandemic on home and working life. 

It also identifies Victorian communities that have carried the social, economic and indirect health burdens during this pandemic. 


“The results will continue to guide how we work with Victorians as together we find the ways to build back the physical, mental and social wellbeing of our communities.”

Dr Sandro Demaio, CEO, VicHealth

Key findings

The findings outlined in this report will enable a more detailed understanding of the response required by VicHealth and its stakeholders to support the health and wellbeing of Victorians during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. 


Differences between communities

This survey identified stark differences between the experiences of communities facing hardship and the wider population. Those experiencing the most significant health and wellbeing impacts compared to the Victorian population overall, included:

  • young people aged 18–35 years
  • people on low incomes
  • people who are unemployed
  • people with a self-reported disability
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • people living in inner Melbourne
  • bushfire-affected communities.

Specific health and wellbeing areas

To see detailed findings for specific areas of health and wellbeing, simply click on the contents section of the report to find:

  • General wellbeing
  • Social connection
  • Physical activity
  • Healthy eating
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Hardship (financial and housing)
  • Working life
  • Gender equity in childcare
  • Key indicators for sub-populations.

More information about the survey for researchers and policymakers

This online representative survey was designed to examine the health and wellbeing impacts of the pandemic during the second wave that occurred from July to October 2020. Results are compared to findings from VicHealth’s first survey that examined the health and wellbeing impacts of the first pandemic wave from March to June 2020. 

Importantly, the study has also examined reasons why health and wellbeing factors may have changed, as well as variation by sociodemographics and recent experiences, such as job loss and the 2020 summer bushfires across Victoria. It is anticipated that this level of information will be valuable in the development of policies and programs aimed at influencing the underlying drivers of health and illness that are most important to our communities. 

Throughout the report, comparisons are made to people’s subjective recollection of their healthy lifestyle experiences and behaviours in February 2020. Comparisons are also made to relevant population surveys that have used similar measures in recent years. However, this is a reference only and absolute comparisons cannot be made due to differences in data collection and sampling methods. The comparison surveys are intended to assist understanding of the level of wellbeing and behaviour rates under ‘usual’ circumstances.


Comparison surveys


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