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Population health surveillance is the collection, analysis, interpretation and communication of data relating to the health status of the population. VAHI’s population health surveillance work allows us to provide a comprehensive picture of Victoria’s health. 

This year marked the first year of population health surveillance being incorporated into our strategic objectives, following the transition of responsibility for this important work from the Department to VAHI in January 2019. 

A reporting roadmap for Victoria 

In the first full year with population health surveillance and reporting in our remit, we have prioritised developing a population health surveillance strategy for Victoria. The strategy aims to support comprehensive monitoring of health outcomes, including inequalities and emerging issues at a population level. 

The strategy, which has been developed for the 2020–24 period and is currently being finalised for release in 2020–21, sets out a series of priorities and actions to address the improvement of population health surveillance in Victoria through data sourcing, data transformation and communication of information. 

The strategy will assist VAHI in leading the development of meaningful surveillance to provide insights to government, clinicians and the general public on non-communicable disease and associated intervention opportunities in Victoria. Key areas of impact include mental health, family violence, diversity, and Aboriginal health. 

Comparing Victoria’s health care nationally and internationally 

This year we explored results from The Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey with an aim to compare Victoria’s health care with others on a national and international scale. The survey includes data from 11 countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States and the United Kingdom. 

The Health system performance: how does Victoria fare nationally and internationally? report draws largely on results from the 2016 International Health Policy Survey of Adults. For the first time, the Commonwealth Fund was commissioned to oversample Victoria in the survey to provide meaningful data to draw comparisons. The report categorises measures into six core performance areas: accessibility, appropriateness, effectiveness, efficiency, equity and sustainability. While Victoria as a whole ranked well against other countries, opportunities for improvement were also identified, for example, through findings of a disparity in primary care access between below average and above average income earners. The report was well received by stakeholders, received positive media coverage and was used to inform government discussions about health system accessibility.

A picture of health in Victoria 

The annual Victorian Population Health Survey continues to provide meaningful information about the health of adults living in Victoria. The survey collects information about the health, lifestyle and wellbeing of adult Victorians, aged 18 years and over. The survey follows an established method to collect relevant, timely and valid health information which is used for policy development and strategic planning. The survey findings provide comparative data on many important health measures, including discrimination, social capital, socioeconomic status, mental health, physical health and health screening behaviours.

VAHI has prepared four reports containing the findings of the 2017 Victorian Population Health Survey focused on family violence, the LGBTIQ+ population, end of life and palliative care, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. 

The release of these reports relating to the 2017 Victorian Population Health Survey has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are looking forward to sharing them with our partners, stakeholders, and the wider Victorian community in 2020–21. 

Overall results from the 2018 survey will also be released in 2020–21.



Highlighting food insecurity in Victoria

Image of the Food insecurity in Victoria report

The Challenges to healthy eating – food insecurity in Victoria report is the state’s first in-depth investigation of food insecurity and its determinants, based on findings from the 2014 Victorian Population Health Survey. 

Food insecurity refers to the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or the limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways. 

The report sought to examine the existence of food insecurity in Victoria, its health impacts, and the relationship between food insecurity and obesity. 

In its findings, the report concluded that food insecurity in Victoria is a problem for specific populations such as adults who are unable to work, who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, who are unemployed, and with very low total annual household incomes. It also concluded that food insecurity is associated with poor mental and physical health, and reaffirmed the strong association between food insecurity and obesity. 

Since its release in September 2019, the report has been widely praised by academics at a national level, including at Monash University where a professor in the Nutrition Dietetics and Food program used the report in their teaching of masters and undergraduate students. 

The report has been commended by other organisations, with VAHI recently making an agreement to provide the dataset to Foodbank Victoria to allow for additional exploration of the data. The report has also been actively promoted by VicHealth in its food insecurity work. 

Page last updated: 26 Oct 2020

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