As many chronic diseases, injuries and some cancers are preventable, the Victorian public health and wellbeing plan 2015-2019 focuses on embedding prevention into the core business of government, the department and funded services.
Public health facts
Investigated over 5,250 food safety complaints and enquiries
Received over 117,987 disease notifications
Initiated hepatitis C cure treatments for over 7000 Victorians
Funded 257,000 free breast screens for Victorian women
Supported 95.7 per cent of Victorian children to be fully immunised at school entry
About public health

Recognising the influential role of social, cultural and economic forces, as well as biological and environmental factors on health and wellbeing, we consider the whole population and support community-led action wherever possible.

Victorians have one of the highest life expectancies in the world – but this is not shared by all. The link between poor health and poverty is clear. Those with the least resources suffer more from avoidable illness and reduced life expectancy, often across generations. 

There are a number of challenges that need to be addressed. These include:

  • Overweight and obesity
  • Poor nutrition and hygiene
  • Poor health literacy
  • Physical inactivity and sedentary lifestyles
  • Smoking
  • Excess alcohol consumption
  • Drug misuse
  • Poor social connection and participation
  • Poor mental health and violence.

These factors contribute to the growing burden of chronic disease, which can lead to people living with illness, pain and restrictions in activity over many years, and can reduce a person’s ability to participate in the community.

Victorians also face threats from communicable diseases, particularly where highly contagious diseases such as measles are reappearing. Hazards in the environment, both natural and human created, include climate-related hazards like Ross River virus and epidemic thunderstorm asthma. While some of these threats can be predicted, many arrive unannounced.

The good news is we can do something to address these many challenges.

The Chief Health Officer (CHO) undertakes a variety of statutory functions under health and food-related legislation. The CHO provides expert clinical and scientific advice and leadership on issues impacting public health and issues public health alerts and advisories.

During emergencies we work closely with Emergency Management Victoria to provide critical relief and recovery support.

For more information on the Chief Health Officer visit the Health.vic website.

For more information on health advice you can go to the Nurse-on-call on the Health.vic website.

For more information on Supercare Pharmacies on the Health.vic website. 

Our response

The Public health and wellbeing plan 2015-2019 outlines the Government’s priorities to improve the health and wellbeing of Victorians, particularly the most disadvantaged.

The plan articulates the Government’s vision to keep Victorians as healthy as possible and to prevent the avoidable burden of disease and injury – so all Victorians can enjoy the highest attainable standards of health, wellbeing, and participation at every age.

Many diseases can be prevented through a combination of vaccines, good hygiene, healthy eating, physical activity, safe practices, environments and strong protective measures. The plan focuses on prevention and supporting healthy living from the early years and throughout life.

Victoria is at the forefront of reform in disease prevention, earlier detection and intervention and has invested in efforts to intervene earlier and prevent people developing chronic diseases.

For more information on the Public health and wellbeing plan 2015-2019 on the Health.vic website.

Actions and outcomes

Immunising Victorians against preventable diseases

Initiatives to increase levels of immunisation coverage.

Action: No Jab No Play/Immunity for Community

Outcome: Victoria has achieved its best ever immunisation coverage and reached the ‘herd immunity’ threshold with 95.7 per cent of children aged five years now protected against preventable and serious life-threatening diseases.

Preparing for thunderstorm asthma

Victorians now have access to public information, forecasts and warnings to help protect their health during an epidemic thunderstorm asthma event.

Action: Public awareness campaign

Outcome: More Victorians will be warned about a possible epidemic thunderstorm asthma event and know how to protect their health.

Victorians have access to education to improve health literacy related to asthma and allergy management.

Health professionals will have a greater understanding of the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of thunderstorm asthma.

Protecting Victorians from seasonal influenza

Initiatives have been delivered to help Victorians better protect themselves from seasonal influenza.

Action: Public health campaign and introduction of free flu vaccination for children under five.

Outcome: Victoria implemented its first ever public health campaign encouraging all Victorians to help stop the spread of the flu through good hygiene practices and an annual flu vaccination.

A $3.5 million program was announced to help ensure all Victorian families, with children aged six months to five years of age can have their children vaccinated against flu.

Healthy eating – Kilojoules on the menu

As a result of legislation introduced in May 2018, approximately 3500 food outlets across the state are now required to display kilojoule content on their menus.

Action: The legislation is supported by a consumer education campaign.

Outcome: Victorian consumers have access to information about the kilojoule content of food to help them make informed, healthier choices when eating out.

Cancer screening and early detection programs

The Victorian Cancer Plan sets out a number of strategies to increase early detection of cancers. This is through improved health literacy and enhanced primary care capacity, to support early diagnosis.

Action: Investments in breast and cervical cancer screening programs, human papillomavirus immunisation program, and world-leading treatment facilities.

Outcome: Victoria has some of the lowest mortality and incidence rates of cervical cancer in the world.