Your wellbeing economy questions answered

We explain the basics of a wellbeing economy before we delve into the Australian context and the 5-stages in our wellbeing economy toolkit.

What is a wellbeing economy?

 

A wellbeing economy moves beyond the focus on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and economic growth as our primary markers of progress, shifting towards indicators that prioritise health, social and environmental outcomes for the people today and the generations of the future.

This is because the way communities feel about their life is increasingly at odds with headline economic indicators like Gross Domestic/State Product and inflation. The concept of wellbeing economies has been developed to address this gap. It is giving governments across the world a new way to think about social progress and target funding to make the biggest difference.

 

It's about bringing in indicators that reflect our environmental health, our social health, and, of course, human health...when we're designing our budgets, when we're setting priorities as a society and as governments

- Dr Sandro Demaio, CEO, VicHealth

 

 

Video: leaders from VicHealth and VCOSS describe a wellbeing economy

 

In the video below, Dr. Sandro Demaio, CEO, VicHealth and Emma King, CEO, Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) explain the purpose of a wellbeing economy.

 

 

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Benefits of a wellbeing economy

 

A wellbeing economy is designed with the purpose of serving the wellbeing of people and the planet first and foremost; in doing so, it delivers social justice and a healthy planet. A wellbeing economy is also about integrating wellbeing into every corner of Government decision making ensuring our leaders consider the long-term impact of policy on people’s lives and the planet. It could support people and policymakers with:  

 

  • Pursuing solutions that have holistic benefits for individuals and communities. 
  • Protecting our most marginalised while also protecting the planet.
  • Taking into account the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. 
  • Addressing challenges that often fall between governmental departments. 

 

The idea is that there is no economy without health, that health has to be our number one priority

- Dr Sandro Demaio, CEO, VicHealth

 

 

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Does a wellbeing economy help to address climate change?

 

Yes, a wellbeing economy helps to address climate change, because unlike traditional economic markers of progress like Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it defines the markers of progress as the things that serve the wellbeing of people and the planet (health, social and environmental outcomes for the people today and the generations of the future).

The idea of a wellbeing economy has grown from previous ideas including sustainable development approaches which sought to limit exponential economic growth at the expense of planetary and people’s wellbeing. 

 

The benefits of a wellbeing economy are really multifold....human health is inextricably linked to planetary health, to the health of our environment

- Dr Sandro Demaio, CEO, VicHealth

 

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Does a wellbeing economy help with mental health?

 

Yes, a wellbeing economy helps support positive mental health outcomes because, unlike traditional economic markers of progress like Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it defines the markers of progress as the things that serve the wellbeing of people and the planet (health, social and environmental outcomes for the people today and the generations of the future).

A wellbeing economy would naturally support investment in health (physical and mental) promotion, prevention and early intervention to enable people to live healthier lives and stop ill health in the first place. It would also support investment to properly support and care for people who already have ill health. 

It's about enjoying good health. It's about being safe, it's about being connected

- Dr Sandro Demaio, CEO, VicHealth

 

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Does Australia have a wellbeing economy?

 

In short, not yet.  The ACT (Australian Capital Territory) already provides a good case study for how the initial stages of progressing a wellbeing economy policy are about establishing what really matters. VicHealth commissioned a wellbeing policy toolkit to support the progression of a wellbeing economy - either at the national, state or territory level. It includes opportunities to further existing Australian policies on the topic.

 

Also see: How does Australia get a wellbeing economy?

 

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Who are the key players on the topic of a wellbeing economy?

 

Around the world and in some parts of Australia, governments are now experimenting with more holistic and longer-term visions of progress so that collective wellbeing becomes the ultimate measure of economic success. 

 

 

In Australia 


 

  • We at VicHealth:  

Australian State Governments


 

 

 

Globally 


 

 

 

Who is doing a wellbeing economy well?

 

Video: VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio gives examples of wellbeing economies 

 

Learn about 2 strong examples of wellbeing economies in the video below, or scroll down to read about them.

 

 

 

Wales 

Wales has defined wellbeing through a set of wellbeing goals in part 2, s.2 of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. The Act embeds structural changes in government decision making by requiring all public bodies to comply with seven wellbeing goals and five ways of working whilst carrying out their duties. It also establishes an independent Future Generations Commissioner to hold government to account on action and sets a range of national wellbeing indicators to be reported against regularly.  

ACT (Australian Capital Territory) 

The ACT Wellbeing Framework looks at wellbeing in terms of how we are doing, as individuals, as a community, and as a place to live.

Personal Wellbeing Flower: Health, Economy, Access and connectivity, Governance and institutions, Identity and belonging, Time, Education and life-long learning, Social connection, Environment and climate,  Housing and home, Living standards, Safety

Wellbeing flower image: from the ACT Wellbeing Framework comprises 12 domains of wellbeing, reflecting key factors that impact on the quality of life of Canberrans.

 

The ACT Government uses the framework to inform government priorities, policies and investment decisions, including through Budget and Cabinet processes. The framework is the foundation of deeper structural change in the ACT Government, transforming decision making and measurement. 

 

Also see: What are examples of wellbeing economies around the world? (Case studies)

 

 

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How does Australia get a wellbeing economy?

 

By integrating intergenerational wellbeing into the business of government. That is, by moving beyond the totalitarianism of GDP as the sole measure of progress to account for things that really matter: physical and mental health, the environment, community and wealth distribution, equity and meeting our needs while caring for future generations.

VicHealth commissioned a wellbeing policy toolkit to support this work in Victoria. 

We need a robust World-Class health care system, but we also need to make sure that people are not just being made well when they're sick, but kept well throughout life

- Dr Sandro Demaio, CEO, VicHealth

 

Video: 5 important things Victoria needs to build a wellbeing economy

 

In the video below VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio outlines 5 things that would progress a wellbeing economy. Also see: What is our wellbeing economy vision for Victoria? and How to implement a wellbeing economy (toolkit).

 

 

 

 

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What is our wellbeing economy vision for Victoria?

 

Intergenerational Wellbeing- Victoria to not be left behind.

 

We want a Victoria where all Victorians, now and into the future are able to life healthy and full lives.

We want to invest in our health and wellbeing, as well as the health of our communities, economy and the planet.

We want to ensure all Victorians have a say in their needs and wants for today and for generations to come – with future Victorians getting a say about what they need. The implementation process would therefore need to include real, continual community engagement. 

We want to ensure all Victorians have a say in their needs and wants for today and for generations to come – with future Victorians getting a say about what they need.  

The implementation process would therefore need to include real, continual community engagement.

Implementing a wellbeing economy would look like a Government that delivers annual wellbeing budgets, developed a wellbeing framework, appointed a Minister for Wellbeing that sits within the Department of Premier and Cabinet who ensures a whole of Government approach to policy making, and, finally, passing a Wellbeing Economy bill to future proof wellbeing for all generations.

Ultimately, we would see a state that invests in prevention, health promotion and healthy communities.

 

Imagine a Victoria where we all have access to:

 

  • safe and affordable housing

  • high quality education

  • jobs close to home

  • fresh, affordable and sustainable fruit and vege

  • well-connected transport systems

  • walkable neighbourhoods where everything you need is less than 20 minutes away

  • equality, justice, and fairness for all

 

That’s good for wellbeing. That’s a wellbeing economy.  

 

 

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How to implement a wellbeing economy (toolkit)

 

Wellbeing economy toolkit  

Toolkit cover page thumbnail: a toolkit to progress wellbeing economy policies in AustraliaThumbnail image: Developing a wellbeing economy vision framework and measurementsToolkit cover thumbnail image: implementing wellbeing economy policies

We commissioned The George Institute for Global Health to provide a toolkit to progress wellbeing economy approaches in Australia. 

The toolkit looks at how we might implement a wellbeing economy in Victoria including frameworks, strategy, economic policies, implementation and evaluation. 

Download toolkit

 

Toolkit contents: 5-stage summary  

How to implement a wellbeing economy - Stage 1 - Develop a wellbeing vision, framework and measurements

1. Develop a wellbeing vision, framework and measurements 

 

Set a different vision of progress – away from purely economic indicators such as GDP which don't improve wellbeing:  

  • Understand what matters for wellbeing 
  • Craft and communicate your wellbeing vision 
  • Measure wellbeing 

 

How to implement a wellbeing economy - Stage 2 - Design a strategy to foster the areas of economic life most important for our wellbeing

2. Design a strategy to foster the areas of economic life most important for our wellbeing 

 

Define the concrete changes in the economy required to achieve your wellbeing goals: 

  • Identify wellbeing economy activities and behaviours 
  • Align institutions and stakeholders for wellbeing 
  • Manage trade-offs and power dynamics 

 

How to implement a wellbeing economy - Stage 3 - Assess and co-create Wellbeing Economy policies to build a coherent and innovative policy mix

3. Assess and co-create Wellbeing Economy policies to build a coherent and innovative policy mix 

 

Create a series of gradual reforms to progress powerful change: 

  • Assess and reform existing policies 
  • Co-create new ones 

 

How to implement a wellbeing economy - Stage 4 - Successfully implement Wellbeing Economy policies by empowering local stakeholders and communities

4. Successfully implement Wellbeing Economy policies by empowering local stakeholders and communities 


Mitigate implementation challenges:  

  • Learn from stakeholder engagement examples in Wales, New Zealand, Scotland, Iceland, Finland, France and Canada 
  • Give stakeholders a clear understanding of the logic behind policy work
  • Co-design so they can effectively tailor policies to their context 


How to implement a wellbeing economy - Stage 5 - Evaluate policy impacts on wellbeing for learning, adaptation and success

5. Evaluate policy impacts on wellbeing for learning, adaptation and success 

Connect the dots and measure the impacts – from unexpected barriers to the the great successes and everything in between. 

The toolkit outlines: 

  • Wellbeing assessments (resources and case studies)
  • Identify best practice and lessons for improvement 

 

Access more detailed information about each stage

Download the complete toolkit:

Download toolkit

 

 

Support beyond the toolkit 

 

Networks that governments can join for peer support 

Wellbeing Economy Governments Partnership (WEGo)  

New Economy Network of Australia (NENA)  

Training courses in Australia  

Building a Wellbeing Economy Course 

 

 

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What are examples of wellbeing economies around the world? (Case studies)

 

The wellbeing economy toolkit outlines several case studies.

Below is a snapshot of how they represent the different stages of progressing a wellbeing economy: 

  • Establishing what matters (ACT and OECD)
  • Implementation (Wales and New Zealand)
  • Evaluation (Australian Social Bank Calculator)
  •  

    Establishing what matters

     

    Case study: The Australian Capital Territory’s Wellbeing Framework

    The Canberra Wellbeing Framework(2020) introduces 12 thematic areas or ‘domains’, developed through their community consultation process in 2019–20. The ACT Government uses the framework to inform government priorities, policies and investment decisions, including through Budget and Cabinet processes. The framework is the foundation of deeper structural change in the ACT Government, transforming decision making and measurement. for quality of life in the Australian Capital Territory?

     

    Case study: The OECD’s thought leadership 

    The OECD has played a pivotal role in helping countries craft their Wellbeing Vision. One of its major founding initiatives was a 2009 Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, led by Jean-Paul Fitoussi and Nobel laureates Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen, and commissioned by the former French president, Nicholas Sarkozy. It recommended the development of wellbeing and sustainability indicators to guide policy, making 12 recommendations for measuring economic and social performance, including the need for multiple indicators or a ‘dashboard’ approach to measuring wellbeing. More recently, the OECD has developed a guide to crafting a Wellbeing Vision framework. The guide is built around three components: current wellbeing, inequalities in wellbeing outcomes and resources for future wellbeing. 

     

     

    Implementation

     

    Case study: Wales’ Well-being of Future Generations Act 

    The Well-being of Future Generations Act was adopted in 2015 and is the result of a long process of working to integrate a sustainable development approach into Welsh policymaking, including the process of public consultation, ‘The Wales We Want’, outlined above. The Act embeds structural changes in government decision making by requiring all public bodies to comply with seven wellbeing goals and five ways of working whilst carrying out their duties. It also establishes an independent Future Generations Commissioner to hold government to account on action and sets a range of national wellbeing indicators to be reported against regularly. This legislative tool reflects a whole-of-government commitment to deeper structural change and embeds a wellbeing agenda within every process and decision of all bodies and organisations in the country. It is useful to governments in progressing a wellbeing approach by providing an example of both a cultural and practical shift in government and society, bringing all sectors together through a cohesive framework. 

     

    Case study: New Zealand’s  Wellbeing Budget

    The Wellbeing Budget was introduced in May 2019 and firmly grounds the wellbeing agenda in the resource allocation and budgeting process. While relatively recent, the Wellbeing Budget builds upon many years of prior work within the Treasury to develop the Living Standards Framework that underpins it. All budget proposals must be assessed on the difference they would make across a range of economic, social, environmental and cultural considerations. This assessment is assisted by a new cost-benefit analysis tool (CBAx), which allows public-sector agencies to calculate the value and impact of wellbeing policies. This process is now enshrined in the Public Finance (Wellbeing) Amendment Act 2020, which requires all future governments to report annually on wellbeing objectives in the Budget, and requires the Treasury to report periodically on the state of wellbeing in their Wellbeing Reports. Additionally, the Local Government (Community Well-being) Amendment Act 2019 places responsibility upon local governments to determine whether activities in their communities promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of the community. Their coordination of the public service response to local wellbeing needs means that the broader wellbeing objectives can be experienced in practice.

     

     

    Evaluation

     

    Australian Social Value Bank Calculator 

    The Australian Social Value Bank is a bank of social values and a value calculator that can be used by any group, organisation or professional to demonstrate social impact. The Bank contains data on 63 different social values related to all aspects of Australian life, derived from Australian datasets using a wellbeing valuation approach. Wellbeing valuation calculates both primary benefits to individuals and secondary benefits to others (including cost savings to governments via reduced welfare payments, for example).

     

     

    More case studies

     

    See further case studies and policy applications in our wellbeing economy toolkit:

    Download toolkit

     

     

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