Sep 2014 – Feb 2015 Last updated: 05 Nov, 2018

Over three quarters of Australians think alcohol is a serious issue facing our community. VicHealth thought it was time to do something about it.

VicHealth wants to see a better drinking culture in Victoria. One where people can say no to a drink when they feel like stopping, where drinking to get drunk isn't seen as acceptable or normal. 

Most Victorians drink. Alcohol is a part of most social occasions. The problem is, the more you drink the more likely you are to suffer from an injury, aggression or accident and do or say things you may later regret. Additionally, drinking too much, too regularly increases their risk of chronic disease; such as heart disease or some cancers.

The VicHealth Innovation Challenge called for ideas to help change Victoria's drinking culture by either:

  • Reducing the amount Victorians drink, particularly those who drink a lot, often, or;
  • Increasing the acceptability of saying no to a drink, or drinking a bit less.

Challenge winners

In February 2015, start-up funding was awarded to four successful projects:


Be a Brother– cohealth, Youth Support & Advocacy Service, Victoria University and South Sudanese filmmaker Ez Eldin Deng

Be a Brother is a social media campaign aimed at African men aged 16-25 in Melbourne’s western region. cohealth Arts Generator worked closely with filmmaker Ez Eldin Deng and a group of young African Australians committed to finding solutions to issues facing their community. Together, they created this campaign which included three short films encouraging young men to ‘be a brother’ by supporting their friends to drink less.  



#SoberSelfie – Australian Drug Foundation 

Targeted towards 18-30-year-olds, the #SoberSelfie Challenge aims to make it easier for young people to say no to a drink. Participants can register for a weekend or a fortnight period without alcohol and are encouraged to take photos of how they’re spending their hangover-free days using the hashtag #SoberSelfie. Participants can take the challenge at any time during the campaign period as well as nominate their friends to share the experience.

Enough is Enough: Emergency Department Clinicians Action on Reducing Alcohol Harm – Australasian College of Emergency Medicine, Hello Sunday Morning & Monash University

This project included development of an app to allow emergency department clinicians to identify hazardous drinkers and offer them a Brief Intervention (BI) and referral if required. The innovation was piloted in three Victorian emergency departments with clinicians screening for harmful drinking on their smartphones using the World Health Organization’s Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Tool (AUDIT), and where appropriate, referring to The aim was to develop a feasible, sustainable BI for emergency department patients, coupled with an ongoing opportunity to reduce harmful drinking.  

Peer Modelling: Drinking Culture Change Intervention – Swinburne University & Victoria Police

This project targeted 20-24-year-olds whose alcohol consumption brought them into contact with Victoria Police. An online program was developed, featuring video interviews with young people talking about their own experiences, motivations and strategies for reducing harmful alcohol consumption. The project aimed to assess the feasibility of implementing a brief, police-led intervention to prompt contemplation of drinking-related behaviour change.

Challenge events

To support these projects VicHealth also ran a series of workshops to help these and other applicants develop their project proposals. 

The Discovery and Insights Forum, held on October 20 provided a rundown of the current trends in alcohol consumption and related harm, and also explored innovative approaches to idea creation, design thinking and lean start up. Check out our short video of the Forum.

We followed this with the Ideas Jam on November 5 where participants got the chance to work collaboratively to prototype ideas and develop a business pitch. If you weren’t able to make it, you can see the slides from the day via slideshare.