VicHealth focuses on strengthening social connections to improve health and wellbeing – both mental and physical.

Our social connections comprise people we know; the friends we confide in, the family we belong to and the community we live in. The need to belong, be connected and engaged in group and civic activities are intrinsic to mental health and wellbeing.

Person leaping into the airThese seemingly simple needs have a profound impact on mental health and wellbeing. However, activities that focus on enhancing social connection and participation must bring together many complex elements.

Important aspects of social connection include:

  • supportive social networks; family, friends and community groups
  • participation in social activities such as those run by community groups or clubs
  • civic engagement through community groups, such as church or volunteer, service clubs, and professional or political associations.

Script reading

Future Makers for Change

Artists and creatives across the state are joining forces with community organisations to help tackle some of the state’s biggest challenges with support from VicHealth, Creative Victoria and others in the new Future Makers for Change program. 

$2.6 million will support nine game changing projects that will showcase the powerful role creativity can play in driving social change. 

An initiative of the Creative State strategy, Future Makers for Change is part of a new Social Impact program, a cross-government initiative to support creative projects that complement government efforts in areas including mental wellbeing, social cohesion, gender equality and family violence. 

Learn more about this program here.

Arts Innovation Challenge artwork

Innovation Challenge: Arts

The 2014 VicHealth Innovation Challenge: Arts called for new ideas to get more Victorians physically active and socially connected.

Getting involved in the arts – whether it's enjoying a museum exhibition, taking a dance class to get your heart pumping or going to a gig – provides people with an opportunity to gain new skills and express themselves, be inspired, and feel good about life in general. And we know that being connected and getting involved with the community reduces loneliness and helps people to make new friends.

Find out who the winners are

People dancing

Swing City

White Night Melbourne and White Night Ballarat

Swing City was dance marathon at White Night 2017 that featured almost every form of social dance, set to the swinging sounds of big band music from the 30s, 40s and 50s. And everyone, including the audience, was invited to join in!

It included crowd tuition and demonstrations, competitions, and Victoria’s community dance groups performing alongside Fred and Ginger movies as inspiration.

Fun run

Fun Run

A Riotous Celebration of Endurance

By All The Queens Men
Project IV Betty Amsden Participation Program
Presented in partnership with our Active Arts partners, Arts Centre Melbourne and Circus Oz

In 2017, Melbourne artist Tristan Meecham, who in homage to the Greek messenger Pheidippides, ran a gruelling 42 km on a treadmill live on stage, supported by a sizzling soundtrack, hundreds of performers and participants drawn from a multitude of Melbourne communities, dancers from Indigenous Hip Hop Projects and special guests.

This remarkable event was a celebration of active arts and included a massive Fun Run Flash Mob.

Circus Circus

Circus Circus

White Night Melbourne

In February 2016, the leading practitioners of 21st century circus converged on the state’s iconic world heritage listed Carlton Gardens for a contemporary re-imagining of the greatest show on earth. Circus Circus celebrated Victoria’s long history of circus with 12 exhilarating hours of gravity defying acrobatics, heart-stopping aerials and breathtaking feats of physicality, strength and daring.

Audience members were invited to stretch their minds and bodies for 720 minutes in the Circus Playground. 

Community Activation Program

Community Activation Program

This VicHealth investment aims to create and activate places within local communities that increase access to opportunities for physical activity and social connection.

For VicHealth, Community Activation means physically and visually transforming a public space or place within your community, then 'activating' it in a variety of ways that inspires and involves local people who are less active to get more physically active.

Five councils were selected to plan and pilot approaches to transform and activate a selected space within their community, with a view to it becoming a permanent site for physical activity.

VicHealth’s Active Arts Partners – Arts Centre Melbourne, The Australian Ballet and Circus Oz – will be assisting these local governments to activate their project sites and communities.

Find out more about the successful projects