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 status cover health conditions, human function, wellbeing and deaths.
  • Indicators for determinants of health cover environmental, community and socioeconomic factors, health behaviours and biomedical factors.

Overview

Keeping Victorians as well as they can be is important for individuals, families and the community. It is also crucial for a healthy, productive workforce and a strong economy.

This report, Victoria’s health, is the fifth report in what was formerly the Your health series, covering the two-year period to June 2014. It has been prepared to meet the requirements of s. 21(c) of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008. The report provides an overview of the health and wellbeing of Victorians, as well as the determinants of health in Victoria. It is structured to reflect the National health performance framework, which incorporates indicators across a wide range of health dimensions (AIHW 2012a). The data contained within this report are collated from a variety of sources, and therefore reporting periods differ for the various indicators.

The information in this report is a valuable overview of the health issues that Victoria faces. It can provide an important starting point in considering policy and government investments for improving the health of the Victorian population. Indicators have been selected based on those that have readily available data that have been measured over time. The 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 enormous burden of, and the steady increase in, preventable diseases.

For the first time, this report includes a chapter focusing on a specific aspect of the health and wellbeing of Victorians, including policy initiatives to improve this. The chapter, which this year concentrates on nutrition and health, has been developed in conjunction with the nutrition team in the department’s Population Health and Prevention Strategy Branch.

Health Status

This domain consists of four dimensions that cover a range of indicators summarising 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:
  • health conditions – measured through the prevalence of disease, disorder, injury or trauma or other health-related state
  • human function – measures alterations to body structure or function (impairment), activity limitations and restrictions in participation
  • wellbeing – includes measures of physical, mental and social wellbeing
  • deaths – includes mortality rates and life expectancy measures.

Determinants of Health

The determinants of health make an impact at the individual and/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 have an effect 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:
  • environmental factors – includes physical, chemical and biological factors such as air, water, food and soil quality
  • community and socioeconomic – measures community factors such as social capital, support services and socioeconomic factors such as housing, education, employment and income
  • health behaviours – includes attitudes, beliefs, knowledge and behaviours such as patterns of eating, physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption
  • biomedical factors – incorporates genetic-related susceptibility to disease and other factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels and body weight.