Key Messages

  • Provides a comprehensive picture of the health and wellbeing of Victorians and an overview of the health issues facing Victoria.
  • Victorians generally enjoy good health compared with other Australians.
  • Indicators of population health cover wellbeing, health conditions, human function and deaths.
  • Indicators are organised under four dimensions: health behaviours, biomedical factors, community and socioeconomic, and environmental factors.


This is the fourth publication in a series of biennial reports that provide a comprehensive picture of the health and wellbeing of Victorians. It has been developed to meet the requirements of s. 21(c) of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 and covers the period to June 2012.

The information in this report is a valuable overview of the health issues that Victoria faces. It is an ideal starting point on which to build policy and government investments for improving the health of the Victorian population. This report provides a strong basis for a concerted public health effort to reduce health inequalities and further improve the health status of Victorians by tackling the burden of preventable diseases.

Overall, the report shows that Victorians generally enjoy good health compared with other Australians; however, it also reveals health issues and differentials in health outcomes between areas and population groups.

Your health: The Chief Health Officer’s report 2012 has been structured using the National health performance framework 2009 and provides an overview of the health of Victorians, in particular their health status and the factors that determine their health.

Health status

This domain covers the four dimensions of health status, bringing together a range of indicators that summarise the impact of disease and injury on the wellbeing of Victorians. The indicators provide an overall measure of population health, which may be either wholly or partially attributable to health service intervention:

  1. Wellbeing: Includes measures of physical, mental and social wellbeing.
  2. Health conditions: Measured through the prevalence of disease, disorder, injury or trauma or other health-related state.
  3. Human function: Measures alterations to body structure or function (impairment), activity limitations and restrictions in participation.
  4. Deaths: Includes mortality rates and life expectancy measures.

Determinants of health

The determinants of health impact at the individual or population level. They are key to the prevention of disease and injury and help explain and predict trends and inequalities in health status. They can be behavioural, biomedical, socioeconomic or environmental. Determinants of health can impact late in the causal pathway (such as tobacco smoking) or further upstream via a number of intermediaries (such as socioeconomic status and environmental factors). This domain organises indicators under four dimensions:

  1. Health behaviours: Includes attitudes, beliefs, knowledge and behaviours such as patterns of eating, physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption.
  2. Biomedical factors: Incorporates genetic-related susceptibility to disease and other factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels and body weight.
  3. Community and socioeconomic: Measures community factors such as social capital, support services and socioeconomic factors such as housing, education, employment and income.
  4. Environmental factors: Includes physical, chemical and biological factors such as air, water, food and soil quality.