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VicHealth Coronavirus Victorian Wellbeing Impact Study

5 Oct 2021
Research and Publications
Illustration of coronavirus

How the first coronavirus lockdown impacted the health and wellbeing of Victorians is the focus of a new VicHealth survey report.

Key messages

  • During the first lockdown of 2020, VicHealth surveyed 2,000 Victorian adults to explore how their health and wellbeing was affected.

  • The survey covered general wellbeing, social connection, healthy eating, physical activity, financial hardship, smoking, alcohol consumption, as well as working and home life.

  • It shows the positive and negative impacts of the first lockdown by age, gender, employment, income, location and community.

Download: Infographic summary of the report (PDF, 1.1 MB)

Download: Full research report (PDF, 2.5 MB)


In the midst of this global coronavirus pandemic, protecting health and wellbeing is more important than ever. While the pandemic has affected all of us, certain individuals, families and communities have been hardest hit.

To be able to respond and support Victorians effectively, we must understand how they are being impacted.

At VicHealth, we value the voices and experiences of all Victorians – no matter their postcode, income or background. Our deep commitment to supporting and listening to Victorians has led to the development of this survey. 

During the initial coronavirus restrictions of 2020, VicHealth surveyed 2,000 Victorians to explore how their health and wellbeing was affected, comparing these results with pre-lockdown results from February 2020 and previous surveys carried out in 2017 and 2015. 

The results provide a detailed understanding of the response required by VicHealth and its stakeholders to support the health and wellbeing of Victorians during coronavirus restrictions and beyond.


“Many Victorians were already fighting an uphill battle before the pandemic hit, but now they are facing even greater challenges when it comes to putting healthy food on the table, keeping active and staying connected to others in their community.”

Dr Sandro Demaio, CEO, VicHealth


Key survey findings

  1. General wellbeing: many people experienced mental wellbeing issues and lower levels of life satisfaction.

  2. Social connection: overall Victorians felt less socially connected.

  3. Healthy eating: there was a concerning rise in food insecurity and consumption of sugary drinks.

  4. Smoking: there was a mix of positive and negative results for smoking.

  5. Alcohol consumption: feeling anxious or stressed may have increased alcohol intake for some people.

  6. Financial hardship: a large number of Victorians have experienced financial hardships and increasing uncertainty.

  7. Physical activity: on the positive side most of those able to continue being active did so, but there were some limiting factors.

  8. Working and home life: many Victorians were concerned about their job prospects, and mothers were bearing the greater load of helping children with school at home.

  9. Positive impacts: there were some silver linings with Victorians wanting to keep some aspects of work and home life during lockdown.

  10. People facing hardship: there are stark differences between the experiences of some people or communities and the rest of the state.


What is VicHealth doing next?

In response to the survey findings. VicHealth has announced $2.5 million in grant funding to support Victorians to create meaningful social connections, get active in a restricted environment, and access healthy, affordable food. 

To find out more, go to: Applications close 11.59pm Tuesday 27 October 2020.

VicHealth will run a follow up survey in September 2020 to assess the effects of the second lockdown.


More information about the survey for researchers and policymakers

VicHealth undertook a survey to understand the impact on Victorians of the first coronavirus lockdown in March–May 2020. A range of health and lifestyle questions were asked to find out whether the lockdown had changed people’s health and wellbeing compared to life in February 2020, and to understand factors influencing these changes. Variation by socio-demographics and recent experiences, such as job loss and the 2020 summer bushfires, were also explored. 

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


Need help?

If you feel anxious, talk to a trusted friend or family member or seek professional help: 



Artwork by Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022
VicHealth acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land. We pay our respects to all Elders past, present and future.
This website may contain images, names and voices of deceased people.

VicHealth acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.

Artwork Credit: Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022, acrylic on canvas. Learn more about this artwork.