It is an exciting time for VicHealth. We continue to lay the building blocks of significant change: change that will encourage one million more Victorians to lead healthier lives.
This year, we began work to encourage and support 25,000 more women and girls to become more physically active through sport. The Changing the Game: Increasing Female Participation in Sport program launched in July, inspired six sports to provide fun and flexible ways to make it easier for less active women and girls to participate. This initiative will also help raise the profile of women in sports – not just for players but also for females in leadership and management roles in the sports sector.
We are changing the way health apps are viewed. We released a review of over 200 health and wellbeing smartphone apps, rating them not just for their functionality, but also their effectiveness in helping to change behaviour. This provides Victorians with confidence when choosing health and wellbeing apps. Using literature reviews, we also compiled a guide for app developers to inspire the application of sound principles to create apps that help a user achieve sustained behaviour change.
Our Leading Thinkers program continued to work on innovative ways for VicHealth to engage and persuade people to improve their health and wellbeing. A key achievement in 2015 is the Citizens’ Jury on Obesity. More than 100 everyday Victorians came together online and face-to-face to listen to evidence and presentations from experts in health through to food industry representatives, then assess and form their ‘asks’, in answering the question ‘How can we make it easier to eat better?’ VicHealth is coordinating a panel of decision makers in public health, government and industry, which will consider each of the jury’s suggestions and select actions to trial and implement.
We commissioned foresight research on young people which examined megatrends─ long-term changes that affect us over a long period of time. One finding of this research indicates that young people will require sophisticated social and emotional resilience skills to thrive in a future of unprecedented change and competition. In response, VicHealth has developed a Mental Wellbeing Strategy to be launched later this year that encompasses individual change; school, workplace and community support; and increased involvement of sports and arts organisations to assist young Victorians to deal with their future environment.
Many other initiatives complement these major milestones where we seek to effect sustainable changes for better health and wellbeing. There is much more to come as we strive to carve a healthier future for all Victorians.