Last updated: 03 Apr, 2018

Health promotion foundation VicHealth is challenging sports organisations and local councils to develop new ideas to get Victorians active with up to $450,000 in funding up for grabs for the most innovative concepts.

VicHealth’s Innovation Challenge: Sport seeks to fund around six new ideas to make playing sport more flexible, accessible and social to encourage less active Victorians to give sport a go.

 The Challenge, now in its sixth round, has previously kick-started highly successful programs such as Basketball Victoria’s Walking Basketball - a huge hit amongst seniors, AFL Victoria’s Boorimul Program for indigenous females and Bushwalking Victoria Club Escaping Your Comfort Zone, a body positive hiking group for plus size women.

Health Minister Jill Hennessy said VicHealth’s Innovation Challenge was about making physical activity accessible to everyone.

“It’s no secret that Victorians love our sport but unfortunately too many of us aren’t doing enough sport and physical activity to benefit our health,” Minister Hennessy said.

“We know that not everyone enjoys or is able to take part in traditional sport. This program is about creating new ways for everyone to get active regardless of their gender, ability or background.”

VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said VicHealth was looking to seed new ideas through the Innovation Challenge.

“Less than one third of Australians get enough physical activity to benefit their health,” Ms Rechter said.

“Our research shows many people are reluctant to get involved in sport if it’s too competitive, difficult to get to or requires a big time commitment, amongst other challenges.

"We’re looking for creative new ways to help Victorians get active. We want to encourage sports organisations and Victorian Councils to think outside the square and come up with exciting new ways for people to play sport.

“Through recent years of the Challenge we’ve seen small ideas turn into hugely successful programs that really resonate with the community. If you have an idea, we want to hear from you – enter it now into the Challenge.”


Escaping Your Comfort Zone is a perfect example of a small idea turned big through the Innovation Challenge. Creator Richelle Olsen wanted to start a hiking program for plus-size women who were intimidated by traditional sport and recreation activities.

After a trial with just 14 walkers, Escaping Your Comfort Zone now has over 900 hikers, and was recently nominated for a Victorian Sport Award.

“The world in general often tells us what’s wrong with us, and that’s particularly true for plus-size women who are told ‘We can fix you’,” Ms Olsen said.


“Thanks to the support of VicHealth we were able to create a supportive program for women to get out there and enjoy being active just the way are in Victoria’s beautiful bushland.”

Sports organisations and Victorian councils are encouraged to apply for the Innovation Challenge: Sport which opens today. To enter, complete a short application on the website, including a 90-second video pitch by 3pm, Friday 4 May 2018.

More information including the funding guidelines is available at



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