There are three broad themes relating to sustainability in health:
- sustainable environments for a healthy lifestyle
- implications of a changing climate
- sustainability in health system performance.
These three themes are articulated in the attached Sustainability principles and the Integrated approach diagram, available to download from this page.
Sustainable environments for a healthy lifestyle
In developed countries like Australia there are few visible indicators of the environmental impact on health, unlike in many developing countries where visible indicators include poor sanitation, litter, waste, smog and haze.
Health is, in part, dependent on the natural and built environments. It is critical to foster environments that protect and promote the health and wellbeing of communities. Many decisions that ultimately affect the health and wellbeing of Victorians, such as land use and transport planning policies and decisions, are made outside the health department. The department plays a key role communicating the importance of the natural and built environments to health and wellbeing.
See the Victorian public health and wellbeing plan for more information.
Implications of a changing climate
The climate is changing and is having recognisable effects on the health and wellbeing of all Victorians, though more acutely on those who are already vulnerable. Such effects include an upward trend in the average annual number of hot days and related deaths and hospitalisations, and an increase in the number and severity of bushfires and associated injury, death, respiratory hazards and mental health and wellbeing.
The department’s Environmental Health Unit provides related information on managing climate and health-related impacts from events, including heatwave, bushfires and drought. Environmental health has more information.
Sustainability in health system performance
Due to the nature of the services they provide, health services use significant amounts of energy and water and generate large volumes of waste. The department’s Sustainability in Healthcare - Environmental sustainability strategy 2018–19 to 2022–23 sets out our commitment for the next five years to further improve the environmental sustainability of the health system and to adapt the health system so it is resilient in the face of climate change. The department runs a number of programs and initiatives to help health services improve their environmental performance, which are further documented on this website.