14 Jan, 2016 Last updated: 21 Apr, 2016

Our cover story talks about social marketing and its role in health promotion beyond behaviour change. We also feature the results of VicHealth’s social marketing campaigns in 2015.

VicHealth Letter Issue 42

Download: VicHealth Letter: Issue 42 (PDF)

Read articles from this edition online:


Get notified when the next VicHealth Letter is released: register with VicHealth and sign-up to the VicHealth Update fortnightly email. 
To request a print copy or provide feedback please email us at [email protected].

Professor Emeritus John Catford

Message from the Chair

Professor Emeritus John Catford
Chair of the Board

Health is complex. In the same way that diseases are multi-causal, and causes are ‘multi-diseasal’, so too are causes ‘multisolution’ and solutions ‘multi-causal’.

There is no single magic wand, but rather a basketful of wands (solutions) is needed which together can address several causes and in so doing many diseases.

Take the issue of obesity, so high in the public consciousness. We all know that obesity is a major health challenge in Australia, and the solutions are diverse and multi-layered. Individual choices, environmental supports, structural determinants and genetic factors surrounding obesity are dynamic and inter-related; so too are the relationships between the many organisations working to address them.

The success of the recent VicHealth Citizens’ Jury on Obesity was its ability to enable every day Victorians, from as many communities,professions, lifestyle groups, and demographics as possible, to work together on the basket of solutions. They looked from varying positions on how to make healthier eating choices easier, and formed their ideas into actionable ‘asks’ from government and industry.

The Citizens’ Jury is an example of VicHealth at its most effective in the role of facilitator and catalyst: providing the platform and guidance towards workable solutions, alongside key decision makers from government, academia, industry and the not-for-profit sectors.

The 2015 VicHealth Awards represent a different kind of venture with the same perspective of complexity in health promotion. This year we received outstanding submissions from advocacy groups, arts organisations, councils, health care providers, sporting bodies and universities. The diversity of achievements by both nominees and winners is evidence of the cross-sectoral and cross-disciplinary nature of the work required to improve health at scale. The calibre of finalists truly reaffirms Victoria as a world-leader in health promotion and I offer my congratulations to each of them. 

At this year’s Awards, we also presented the prestigious Nigel Gray Award for Excellence in Health Promotion to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for their Mental As Campaign. This is an extraordinary, ground-breaking initiative that helped kick-start a national conversation about mental health. Through it the ABC raised over $1 million funding for mental health research. This award honours the late Dr Nigel Gray AO whose vision, ingenuity and commitment - to prevent the incursions of big tobacco in Australians’ lives - changed the landscape of health promotion forever.

In September the Victorian Government outlined its key health improvement priorities in the Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2015–─2019, with a particular focus on health inequality. Launching the Plan, Minister for Health, The Hon. Jill Hennessy, said that she hopes that the responses will break the cycle of poor health and social disadvantage so all Victorians can enjoy the highest standards of health.

VicHealth actively supports the Plan and will contribute our unique mix of insights, innovations and investments. In this complex environment, VicHealth will continue to initiate and facilitate interactions and partnerships with government, cross-sector organisations, communities and citizens to tackle entrenched and emerging issues to improve the health and wellbeing of all Victorians.

Jerril Rechter

CEO's foreword

Jerril Rechter
Chief Executive Officer

Our society is more connected to each other, and to information, than ever before. That is clear. 

It’s inspirational to see technology catalyse social connection, communication and co-creation, distribute tools and information at full throttle, or enable instant feedback.

The hallmark of our time is digitisation. It’s no different in promoting health and preventing illness, as we see social marketing evolve, and new ways to communicate such as online platforms and apps become part of daily lives. More than 70% of Victorians now access the internet via their mobiles, and more than 90% are connected to others via social networking sites. Two in five Victorians tell us they trust health information from an app. 

VicHealth has achieved much with social marketing to influence attitudes and behaviours that benefit the health of individuals and communities. 

In 2015, our investment in this space continued leveraging new technologies, and pursuing ambitious goals backed by our long-held tradition of using high calibre evidence to create and evaluate our programs. These include the challenge of changing attitudes towards risky alcohol consumption, encouraging Victorians to drink less, nudging people to prefer water over unhealthy drinks, supporting communities to be active from walking to school to opening opportunities for more females to participate in casual and organised sport.

Establishing new ways to engage and communicate is particularly important among Victorians who may not have the same opportunities as others to lead healthy lives. Achieving health equity is an important focus across all VicHealth’s funded programs, campaigns and partnerships. 

In the coming years as we work through our strategic plan, the VicHealth Action Agenda for Health Promotion, we will continue to develop and pursue comprehensive and multi-faceted approaches to our programs and partnerships. We will innovate, test, partner, leverage and communicate; always refining our approach.

This edition of the VicHealth Letter will hopefully make you feel, as it does for me, that although Victoria’s health challenges are defined by their complexity, our solutions are defined by their insight, innovation and inclusivity. Being at the forefront of health promotion, we will continue to support the means to find the evidence to plug gaps in knowledge that inform policy and practice as well as enable all Victorians to make decisions for their health.

Latest news