Advice for Municipal public health and wellbeing plans 2017–2021

Advice for public health and wellbeing planning in Victoria: planning cycle 2017-21 helps Councils and funded prevention and health promotion organisations with health and wellbeing planning and implementation for the 2017-21 cycle. It outlines Victorian policy directions, supplements the 2013 guide to municipal public health and wellbeing planning for Councils, and provides information on the requirements and expectations of funded prevention and health promotion organisations. This shared advice for Councils and funded agencies emphasises the importance of collaboration to improve the health and wellbeing of local populations.

Legislative requirements of Municipal public health and wellbeing plans

Councils are required to prepare a Municipal public health and wellbeing plan every four years by the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008, which also sets out what must be included in the Municipal public health and wellbeing plan. In addition, there are other legislative obligations that Councils need to be aware of when developing their Municipal public health and wellbeing plans.

  • Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008

    The Public Health and Wellbeing Act requires Councils to prepare a Municipal public health and wellbeing plan within 12 months after each general election of the Council (section 26(1)).

    Section 26(2) of the Act requires a Municipal public health and wellbeing plan to:

    (a) include an examination of data about health status and health determinants in the municipal district
    (b) identify goals and strategies based on available evidence for creating a local community in which people can achieve maximum health and wellbeing
    (ba) specify measures to prevent family violence and respond to the needs of victims of family violence in the local community
    (c) provide for the involvement of people in the local community in the development, implementation and evaluation of the public health and wellbeing plan
    (d) specify how the Council will work in partnership with the Department of Health and other agencies undertaking public health initiatives, projects and programs to accomplish the goals and strategies identified in the public health and wellbeing plan
    (e) be consistent with

    1. the Council Plan
    2. the Municipal Strategic Statement/Municipal Planning Scheme.

    Section 26(3) requires Councils to have regard for the state public health and wellbeing plan in preparing the Municipal public health and wellbeing plan.

    Section 26(4) requires Councils to review the municipal public health and wellbeing plan annually, and if appropriate amend it. Section 26(4A) requires that an annual review must include a review of the measures related to family violence.  

    Section 26(6) requires Councils to provide a copy of the current municipal public health and wellbeing plan to the Secretary, Department of Health.

    Section 26(6A) requires Councils to report to the Secretary on family violence measures at intervals specified by the Secretary in writing.

    Section 26(7) requires Councils to make available for inspection by members of the public, a copy of the current Municipal public health and wellbeing plan.

    Victorian public health and wellbeing plan 2019–2023

    The Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 requires Councils to have regard to the State public health and wellbeing plan when developing their Municipal public health and wellbeing plan.

    The Victorian public health and wellbeing plan 2019–2023 establishes the Victorian Government’s priorities for improving health and wellbeing in Victoria. The plan includes ten priorities of which four are designated as focus areas for additional attention for the duration of the plan:

    Evidence-based guidance materials are available online to support actions that contribute to addressing the focus area. This guidance is provided for specific settings, including local government.

    Seeking exemption from producing a Municipal public health and wellbeing plan

    Section 27 of the Act gives Councils the option to seek an exemption from producing a Municipal public health and wellbeing plan by including public health and wellbeing matters in a Council Plan or Strategic Plan.

    Councils wishing to take this option will need to seek an exemption from the Secretary of the Department of Health.

    Information about the requirements of Council Plans is available from Local Government Victoria.

    Municipal public health and wellbeing planning 2021–2025 Advice note 2 includes information on applying for an exemption from producing a standalone Municipal public health and wellbeing plan.

    Family violence prevention and response

    There are two resources to support Councils to meet their obligations under the Act to specify measures to prevent family violence and respond to the needs of victim survivors of family violence in the local community:

    The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) supports councils to deliver, partner and lead gender equality and preventing violence against women (PVAW) work in their communities and raise the profile of the local government sector’s work in this space.

    Women Victoria promotes gender equality and women’s leadership and works to change attitudes to prevent family violence and violence against women.

    Family Safety Victoria implements key recommendations from the Royal Commission into family violence.

  • Other Legislative Requirements

    There are other pieces of legislation that impose requirements on Municipal public health and wellbeing plans and/or Councils.

    Climate Change Act 2017

    The Climate Change Act 2017 requires Councils to have regard to climate change when preparing their Municipal public health and wellbeing plan.

    Tackling climate change and its impacts on health through municipal public health and wellbeing planning: Guidance for local government, 2020 has been developed to assist Councils in meeting their legislative obligations under the Climate Change Act 2017 and the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008. It highlights opportunities for Councils to protect and improve the health and wellbeing of their communities through climate change action. A summary of the guidance is also available.

    Gender Equality Act 2020

    The Gender Equality Act 2020 commenced on 31 March 2021 and seeks to improve workplace gender equality in the Victorian public sector, universities and local councils.

    The Act applies to certain organisations (‘defined entities’), that have 50 or more employees, including the public sector, universities and local councils, which will have specific obligations under the Act.

    Local councils with 50 or more employees will be required to publicly report on their progress in relation to workplace gender equality and promote gender equality in policies, programs and services that impact the public. For further advice refer to the Commission for Gender Equality in the Public Sector website, Advice for local Government.

    While it is encouraged that councils incorporate a Gender Impact Assessment (GIA) process from the earliest stages of design and development of policies, programs and services, please note that councils are not required to formally conduct GIAS of your Council Plan or Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan.

    A fact sheet, Gender Equality Act (2020) and local government is available from the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA).